Skip to main content

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!)


  1. paddyandhenrysmomJune 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Oh, dear. Those kinds of mornings are like being repeatedly stabbed in the heart and yet having to carry on for a whole day when you wanna drop to the floor and wail. I'm sure not every morning will be that way, which is a small spark of hope. Most days Hayden will likely sleep in a lot later and miss your departure, which will help a whole ton. I bet he was OK not long after you left, and likewise I bet your guilt and sadness lasted all day. :( One day at a time, my friend.

  2. boo! i'm so not looking forward to this in 5 weeks... :(


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Grace happens

Today Honey's roommate in room 364 at Maine Medical Center was discharged. Some other day I'll tell you about why Honey is in the hospital again, but this story is about the roommate because it's way more interesting. Let's call him Elton, because all I really know about him is he plays guitar in an Elton John tribute band and he's originally from the very northern part of England, bordering Scotland. (Or as Honey described it, "that place in England where the Roman Empire decided, nope, those Celts are crazy, and put up a wall.")

Elton was in room 364 before Honey arrived, and what struck me immediately, besides his delightful accent and soothing Liam-Neeson-esque voice, was his gentle, good-natured manner. He was going through heck from a botched surgery and compartment syndrome - pain and gore and fear of losing the use of his dominant hand - yet he spoke kindly and softly to every person who came into his room. Every time a nurse walked in, Elton gree…

Boardwalk ghosts

“Imagine this, buddy, in the middle of summer, especially near the Fourth of July. Wall to wall people, just sort of moving in and out of each other. Flashing lights. Loud music. Screams from Morey’s Pier, laughter on the swirly rides. Oh...and the cream, funnel cake, fudge, cheese steaks, pizza, fries...the smells alone would drive you nuts!” 
It’s 5:00 on the evening before his Nana’s funeral, and we’re standing in a windy drizzle on an empty Wildwood boardwalk. My mind has flashed back to the summer of 1991, when I spent a week here with my best friend. Wicked sunburn. Tandem bike adventures. Water slides. Thrill rides. A ground-shaking thunderstorm. Friendship bracelets. College guys taking showers outside. Ice cream and VCR movies every night.

Back in the here-and-now I’m trying to explain to Zippy what this place is like when it’s not October. He’s been to Rehoboth and Ocean City and Old Orchard Beach, but none of those come anywhere close to Wildwood in peak season.…


Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."