Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back to the guilt...I mean, grind

I went back to work today after 12 weeks of maternity leave. For weeks I've been nervous about leaving Jake, worried that he wouldn't take a bottle and would cry incessantly until Chris lost his mind. But I wasn't expecting the emotional sucker-punch from Hayden, who has almost five years of practice separating from his mom each morning. This morning may have been in the top five hardest for me yet. Here's how it went down:

Wake up at 5:15 to feed Jake (who, by the way, did exactly as I asked and slept straight through from midnight to 5:15. What a good boy.) Shower, make-up, hair, get dressed. Tiptoe through the bedroom and hallway to avoid all the creaky floorboards. Kiss Chris goodbye. Tuck Jake's binky back into his mouth. Peek my head into Hayden's bedroom door, thinking he's still in bed because it's practically before the dawn...but his eyes are open, and he's clutching his lovey bear. Uh oh.
Me: Bye, love, I have to go to work.

Hayden: Nooooo! Mommmeeeee! Dooonnnn't go! [Sits up and begins sobbing uncontrollably, Big crocodile tears, sucking air, snotty nose] Don't go to work, Mommy. I'm going to miss you soooo much!

Me: I know, sweetie. I'll miss you too. But I have to go to work. I don't really have a choice, love. Don't worry, I'll be back around dinner time so we can spend the whole evening together! [Forcing a big smile through the lump in my throat]

H: I want to go with you.

Me: You can't, sweetie. Grown-ups only. It's no fun there, anyway.

H: So why do you go there?

Me: Because that's how we get the money we need to pay for our house, and our food, and...and...and your toys! [Yeah, toys, he'll get that.]

H: Oh. Are you gonna bring me a toy?

Me: Not today.

H: You never give me toys. [sniffle sniffle] Please have breakfast with me.

Me: [Knowing that breakfast will just prolong the agony] No, buddy. I'm going to eat breakfast later. Why don't you come down and help me get my stuff together, and then wave to me from the door.

H: [Deciding that tears are no longer working, and he must go for the jugular] NO! DON'T GO! YOU NEVER SPEND ANY TIME WITH ME ANYMORE!
With that, knowing I wasn't going to win this battle, I hugged him, he clung to me down the stairs, and he sniffled me to the front door. I made him promise he'd go back to bed and snuggle with Daddy; I asked him to help Daddy with the baby because being the big brother is even more important when Mommy goes to work. I smiled bravely as I tromped out to the car. He sat on the front step crying and waving, hugging his arms to his body.

And once again, I drove away from my crying child -- and cried my own self down the highway to my office. It's not the first time, and certainly won't be the last. Just have to get back into working mom shape. Toughen up. Shake it off. Go, Mommy, go.

(You know what I can't wait for? TWO kids sobbing me off to work in the morning!)