Earlier this week, you broke my heart.
“I have to go to work. I won’t love it. I will miss my kids forever. I will not get used to it. It will not get better. It will mean missing huge parts of my children’s lives that can never be replaced. But it is not a choice, so, I will be looking for ways to be successful.”
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that going to back to work hasn’t been totally heartbreaking. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess I felt the exact same way you do in the first days following my decision to go back to work.
When I sent in my resume and cover letter, I sent a copy to my husband, who was out of town. He responded with a one-line email.
“You’re going to get the job.”
And I knew he was right. Not just because it was pretty much the coolest resume ever (ha, I’m so humble) but because this whole thing was too serendipitous to have not been meant to be. Instead of jumping for joy, I sat down and ugly cried.
. . . and cried and cried.
Here’s the thing.
After you have stayed home with your kids for any period of time, the idea of leaving them behind is terrifying.
I never will get these hours and days back. While I am at work, the kids are learning and growing and being adorable, and I am not there to see it. I am not there to take a million pictures. I’m not there to kiss the boo-boos or cheer them on.
I’m missing all of it.
But I am doing something important. I have made the decision to do what I need to do for my family. I am being brave. I am working hard. I am showing my children through my actions that sometimes, we have to do hard things. Sometimes, we have to change and stretch outside of our comfort zone.
Sure, plenty of moms go to work because they want to, but I didn’t at first.
Luckily, I’ve been able to find the joy in the situation. I flippin’ love my job.
You know what else I love?
The hour and a half I spend in the car each day. I listen to a morning show (which isn’t even kid appropriate) and I enjoy music without little voices bickering in the back seat about who is breathing on who. I love my organized desk, and my responsibilities, and the fact that I can sit down and work for an hour straight and at no point does anyone ask me to pour them some cereal or wipe their butt.
I love my lunch break, and the sweet silence of the office in the morning before people start arriving. I love getting dressed in nice things and not worrying about sticky fingers. I love chatting with my coworkers about grown up things.
After nine years of nothing but kids, I am enjoying my daily stop in the adult world.
Even more, I am enjoying coming home at the end of the day.
Did you know my house is cleaner now that I work out of the home? I’m more patient with my kids, too, because I did have a moment to recharge on the way home. I am more energetic and have been having a ton of fun with them every afternoon. I know I only have that small window of the day for memory building, and gosh darn it, I am not going to waste it.
These things don’t make up for missing my kids (whom I love even more than I love my job). But they are perks, and for moms who go to work because they have to, they are a sweet reminder that it’s not all bad.
Those little things are making all the difference for me. I am feeling less and less like I can’t do this, and more and more like we can make this work and still be happy.
This isn’t to say working is better, or staying at home is better. That old debate is just too overplayed, and frankly, I don’t give a fig. It isn’t the point. I’ve been on both sides now, and there just isn’t picking a “better”. I loved staying home with the kids. I am working now because I need to, and I am learning to love it too.
At the end of the day, if the kids are happy and well cared for; if your home and your finances and your marriage is in order; if you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the woman staring back at you . . . then you’re doing the right thing.
If you are dreading the transition, I have nothing but hugs and hope for you.
I hope that you can find a smidgen of joy in the little things you can now enjoy as a working mom. I hope you fall in love with your job and your coworkers. I hope the moments you spend with your kids are now even more magical. I hope you have increased patience and energy for your little ones because of the quiet you got on the drive home. I hope you feel valued for the contributions you are making for your family.
Because you are valuable.
I know at this moment, nothing will help, not even my promises of peace and quiet and renewed energy for your kids.
You have a right to grieve for a while. You have a right to want to kick and scream while you decide what to do. But once that decision is made, and once the job is yours, you have to stop worrying. You have to let go of the guilt and the fear. You already know this is something you need to do.
Take a deep breath, and get a move on, Momma.
There is work to be done, and when you get home, there are kiddos to kiss.