Being there.

Yesterday was a "talk me down" kind of a day and you all did it that very thing. Thank you. Squishy hugs and big gold statuettes all around.

As predicted by most of you, Thalia was just fine. Hunky-dory. A-okay. I spent the morning trying to reach Nate (phone off, sleeping, hangover) in a panic all while Thalia was happily ensconced in play.

She asked me to make a card for her while I was at work, and she would make one for me too. I drew her a smiling sun and the two of us holding hands. It looks about as good as her drawings at this point. She drew me a photo of the two of us floating on a double raft together at Atlantis.

She tells me she wants us to go back, but this time, to bring everyone in her class and all of their families.

I tell her that I would have to work a loooooot of hours to be able to afford that.

"That's okay," she says. "You can just come home late and tuck us in in our sleep like you do now, and then see us on weekends."

In my head, I replayed the story Jaelithe told yesterday in a post called To My Friends Who Work Outside the Home that she wrote in part in response to mine. As a former nanny, Jaelithe remembers her charges also crying when their mother left the house to head to her writing job and the guilt that mother must have carried with her all day. But the story doesn't end there.

Five or ten minutes after she left, the kids would recover completely, and start laughing and playing with me just as they did on the days when their mother was in the next room.

Sometimes, the older girl would get out a box and pretend to type on it as if it were a computer.

"I'm a Mommy. I'm working," she would say. "I'm a writer writing things."

And that little girl would sound so proud.

It's not such a horrible thing, to make our children proud. Through our actions, through our work, through our commitment to them and those in our lives.

I have to remind myself that the choices we make now as parents aren't just to get our children through the days. It's to get them through their lives.


Blogger Tali said...

Thank you for this. It couldn't have been written at a better time. It seems that while my daughter is at her most challenging, so are my clients.
Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. I posted a link to your blog via my personal blog and shared with close friends who are going through the very same thing.

3/11/10, 9:28 AM  
Blogger Aging Mommy said...

I didn't comment yesterday as I could sense you were feeling so bad about your daughter wanting you to stay with her and the words might have seemed trite.

But honestly, it's not because you go to work that your daughter was upset yesterday and you should not feel guilty. I'm a SAHM and my daughter who is 3 goes to pre-school 3 mornings a week. She is always fine, right from day 1 no tears until one morning when, like Thalia, she just started crying and clinging to me and did not want me to go. I felt awful leaving her - but her teacher later told me she was completely fine 5 minutes later. At the weekends I sometimes go out and leave her with my husband. Usually she is fine and happily waves me goodbye but sometimes she will get upset but again, five minutes after I am gone she will be happily playing with Daddy.

I just like to think of it this way - your children need to spend time away from you, whether you work or not. It is good for them and good for you. Going to pre-school, spending time with other children and adults prepares them for their life ahead.

And a final point - if your child never cared if you were around or not wouldn't that be far worse? Being needed is a sign that you are doing a good job of being a Mom - at least some of the time!

3/11/10, 9:43 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Stay at home or working mom....we all make sacrifices for our children. As a stay at home mom your friends change, you can lose your own sense of self easily, and when it is time to return to the working world you can't have an adult conversation without mentioning Blue's Clues.

3/11/10, 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Kami said...

I love that: "the choices we make now as parents aren't just to get our children through the days. It's to get them through their lives." How poignant. They get over their tears within minutes. So easily are they redirected. But for us? Those minutes of the clinging and crying, well, they shoot our whole day.

Life is sometimes hard, so I suppose it only makes sense that teaching our kids life skills is also sometimes hard. But as it goes in that awful Music Together song: "who says she's gonna come back? Your mommy does, that's who! Whoever takes care of you comes back, because they do love you!"


3/11/10, 10:32 AM  
Anonymous mayberry said...

And you know what? My mom worked (she still has a very high-powered job) and I do feel it prepared me to feel more comfortable with my choices now that I am a mother myself. I remember our babysitters fondly, but I only have one Mom.

3/11/10, 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

"I have to remind myself that the choices we make now as parents aren't just to get our children through the days. It's to get them through their lives."

My heart just went thump. Thank you for this reminder. I think it's all too easy to get wrapped up and forget this.

Brilliantly and beautifully written. xoxoxo

3/11/10, 12:01 PM  
Anonymous NYCityMama said...

My mom worked, all the time, a lot. She inspired me to be a professional myself, and as growing up, when I would day dream of the adult life that awaited me, I never saw myself as staying home with my kids as I do now (most of the time), I saw myself as my mother, getting up early, dealing with the morning chaos, juggling both lives...and I felt proud, and wanted to be her, like her when I grew up. Also, my mother was ALWAYS there for me, even if not physically, I never, ever felt my mom wasn't there for me.

I remember her going to school for her Masters, so that she could "get a better job" she would tell us. Maybe we didn't get to do a lot of the activities some of the other kids got to do because their moms where around to drive them to and from places, but my brother and I were loved in a way I can only wish my children will remember being loved by me.

You're an awesome mom, and if I can tell, I know she can feel it far more than me.

3/11/10, 12:10 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

My parents have a hilarious video, taken literally 5 minutes after my husband and I left for a night away, leaving a screaming toddler behind.

In the video, my daughter is dancing, and laughing, and singing.

They really do get over it pretty quickly.

I have had luck recently telling my daughter (now almost 3) that it is OK to be sad and miss me, that I miss her, too, but that I need to go to work.

And she'll often pull out one of her books that has a button that makes it play a song, and open it up and call it her "com-pooter" and say she is working. Very cute.

I think I do OK with leaving my daughters at day care because I know, really, really KNOW that going back to work after my first was born saved my sanity. And that the obsessive, heading towards depressed mother that I was turning into during my maternity leave was not going to be a good mother AT ALL. There are more ways to "need to go to work" than to just need the paycheck.

3/11/10, 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Jennie said...

I'm crying, which isn't the strangest thing in the world (I do it often) but I can't tell you how much I needed to read this. Posts like this or why blogging changes lives.

3/11/10, 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

Every choice I've made since becoming a mother (even the unpalatable ones) is made so my children will be proud of me. Some of those choices have been easier to make than others, but all of them have been made with them in mind, and the example I want to set for them.

Thalia and Sage are lucky to have you setting such a great example for them.

3/11/10, 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Stacia said...

My mom worked outside the home, too. And the thing I learned most: that women could be smart, have careers, and find fulfillment in it. Your Thalia will take note of this, too (and it will guide her throughout her life, as you so eloquently noted).

3/11/10, 12:32 PM  
Blogger sjflinders said...

"I have to remind myself that the choices we make now as parents aren't just to get our children through the days. It's to get them through their lives." This is so right-on for me now. I am posting your words above my computer at work. Thank you.

3/11/10, 12:37 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I think your last paragraph here was better than my whole post.

I'm happy I helped you feel a little better. Thalia actually reminds me a lot of that girl I used to take care of, who liked to pretend to be a writer. I have a feeling both of them will grow up to do something great, just like their mothers.

3/11/10, 12:39 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

I tried to comment yesterday, but I was logged in to the wrong Google account.

I have those days too, and then one day I caught my daughter, with the old blackberry my husband gave her, typing away at the old keyboard we gave her (that isn't attached to anything). She said she was working, and she was proud of it. It was a fun little moment.

We've started bringing her to work with us, even if it is just for a visit on a day off, so she can see where we sit all day. We talk about what we do, and while IT stuff is a little over her head, she knows we help people.

I hope I'm preparing her for a future where she can make choices about what to do regardless of what anyone else tells her.

3/11/10, 1:12 PM  
Blogger Dyar Baby Momma said...

Okay tears... I needed to hear this. :)

3/11/10, 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Pam said...

I'm a SAHM and I feel the exact same way. Whether going to the office or running a million errands, we are both leaving our kid with someone else. My Bean started a 3 year old program this January and was rockin' it until just this week when he cried and did not want me to leave. It just felt so wrong to turn and walk away when I could still hear him crying down the hallway.
But I know it's something he has to do. He has to learn to be without me. And YES, I too get comfort in knowing he still likes to hang out with his Mama. :)

3/11/10, 1:50 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

My favourite mothering quote is from Ariel Gore: "Children need interesting mothers." I believe it wholeheartedly. If we want our daughters to believe that they can do whatever they want, then we need to model doing things that energize and engage us.

3/11/10, 5:14 PM  
Blogger JHP said...

This post needs a "like" button.

Your daughters know what an awesome mother they have and all that she does to make their lives better. Well, maybe not all, but you catch my drift.

3/11/10, 6:46 PM  
Blogger just making my way said...

Bravo. The choice to work or stay at home is not easy. Some don't have a "choice" at all. I work outside of the home, and have huge respect for SAH parents, because I don't think I could do it.

Your last line says it all.

3/11/10, 8:58 PM  
Anonymous dusty earth mother said...

That was a great follow-up. LOVE the nanny's perspective and so great that the daughter was proud of her mom. Thanks for sharing all of this, Mom101!

3/12/10, 12:24 AM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

"I have to remind myself that the choices we make now as parents aren't just to get our children through the days. It's to get them through their lives."

Genius. I adore that. Thank you.

3/12/10, 12:34 AM  
Anonymous TechMama said...

Brilliant post! I think about this all the time because - even though I am a work at home mom - I have been working all throughout my kids childhood. I did experience what Jaelithe said - my kids are happy when I find them the right babysitter - and sometimes it even makes me a better mom. For example, my babysitter (who works a couple of nights a week) is young and has the energy to play with my kids in a way I could never do after dinner (because I am so tired by then after a busy day shuffling kids and work around). I have three boys, my babysitter is also male and they play spy games, board games like monopoly, basketball and lots of other fun things. So I think moms need to take all the guilt away if they have to work - and just find the right daycare/sitter/after-school program for their kids to be where they are happy and well cared for. I think the old saying "it takes a village" holds true.

3/12/10, 11:59 AM  
Blogger b said...

I stay home. For a while my husband was unemployed, so I worked, and nursed the baby for HOURS when I got home, and felt guilty that he wasn't getting what the other 3 got from me: time. I will probably have to go back to work soon, and I'm so sad about it. I don't know how you mommies do it, but I see you simply make your back bigger to carry the sorrow of having to leave your kids. You all are my hero, and my example. Thanks.

3/12/10, 11:59 AM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Very well done. My daughter had a horrid time transitioning, and would sometimes throw up when my husband told her that it was time to go to school. When she first started, the teachers couldn't mention us (mommy and daddy that is), or make eye contact with her. She had a rough time of it. But eventually she was fine, made friends, had a great time. I remember the first time I knew she was going to be OK...I went to pick her up, and she was laughing and running, playing football with the other 2 year olds. Whew.

3/14/10, 8:58 PM  
Blogger Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks} said...

Just wanted to pop on and say what a wonderful mother you are, and how glad I am that you write, and how I understand that it can be so hard to do both (along with everything else you do). xo

3/17/10, 1:29 AM  

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