A Letter to My Kids From Your Newly Working Mom

57

November 10, 2014 by Katia

Dearest boys,

Mommy’s hoping to explain something to you, but first she needs to understand it herself, so she’s writing it down. Writing can help put order in your thoughts. Kind of like tidy up time but for your head.

Many people say: kids are adaptable. That means they’ll get used to anything. Is that true, or is it something that grownups say to make themselves feel better about tough decisions?

It’s been so strange for me to go from being your full time butler, chef, nurse, play date coordinator to being just one thing. For someone else. But you, boys, seem to have adapted. Most days I open the door to hungry embraces and wish that I could magically transform into a one woman choir to properly respond to the polyphony of you describing your day and observations, Ben in a long operatic aria and Daniel in single words staccato, always greedily reverting to the refrain “mama!”. On other days you barely acknowledge my presence with a mumbled ‘hi, mom’ and indifferent TV-glazed eyes. I’m equally thrilled either way, my wonderful boys, because – listen to this parenting wisdom – if your kids miss you when you’re at work that’s great. They don’t ? Even better. I know this sounds a little confusing, Ben, and maybe even like the kind of thing that elicits that deep, throaty from the bottom of your heart “BAAA” cry, because what kind of a thing is that to say that YOU didn’t miss ME and even worse for me to be happy about it, right?! Let me explain. All it really means is that you’ve adapted to a new situation and that it’s okay for mommy to not feel that terrible, yucky sense of guilt.

Remember how we talked about white lies, Ben? Sometimes grownups tell themselves white lies, about themselves and what they’re doing because the truth is too embarrassing, scary or bad. I admitted some truths to myself today (I wonder if you’d think that “black truths” is the opposite of white lies. Maybe it is.) and realized that maybe your adapting seemingly well to this me going back to work thing doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s NOT a big deal to you.

A month into the job you and I, Daniel, have established our little routines. Some mornings you protest “No work!” while I do my little bye bye dance outside the house drawing a heart shape in the air and blowing you kisses. Some days “wOrk” shapes your lips into a pout. On the weekend it widens and stretches your eyelids into their naturally inquisitive look as you wonder ‘where work?’ and on days like today it stretches the vowels of your squeaky little “w-OOOO-rk”? as you head determined to the blackboard with a pink chalk in your hand and decisively hand it to me asking: “paint work!”.

work

I understand that work is a new presence in your lives. A pink rectangular building on a blackboard. A big unknown to you, Daniel. I know that to you, Ben, it’s a social commitment mama can ditch whenever you ask her to walk you to school.

Remember how I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say? It’s coming to me now. I guess, my beloveds, that what I need you to know is that work is a thing and a big deal for me too. It’s big and unknown and I’m still figuring it out and it changed my life, not just yours, and I need you to know that I’m doing it not because I would ever choose anything over you, but because work allows us to do the things we want to do together as a family and alone as individuals and it allows us to learn and to feel good about ourselves in new ways.

Remember how last summer you with your infinite wisdom, Ben, told me that maybe we as a family need to each go our own way during the day so we could enjoy each other’s company more on the evening?  Looks like you were right, once again. See? Sometimes grownups can learn from kids.

57 thoughts on “A Letter to My Kids From Your Newly Working Mom

  1. xxxxxxxxxxooooooooooooooo that is all. been working like crazy recently and hating the effect it has on H. esp since I work from home a lot and he knows I’m here, and he’s waiting for me to come out and be with him. “no, mommy, no more working.” it breaks my heart. but work is a big deal for me, too, as you say. glad you are adjusting.

    • Katia says:

      I can imagine, my friend. In that sense I’m lucky I can do this remotely. It’s so hard to create boundaries at home. This too shall pass and Henry won’t remember and ultimately it might still be better for him to this age to see you. Even if you can’t play. Big big hugs. I’ve been thinking of you.

  2. pamb says:

    I went back to work part time when my kids were in 4th and 6th grade. The timing was great for us, as my 6th grader was itching to be a little independent. My 4th grader, not so much. It’s been a few years, and there will always be bumps in the road (it seems there are no summer camps in August, so my kids spent most of their time online or at a neighbor’s.Oops!) Since your kids are younger, it may be both harder (you miss that cuddle time) and easier (they may adapt quicker). Everyone does the best they can, and I do believe it’s good for all kids to see that their parents have other things in their lives (i.e. no one questions why Daddy has to work).

    • Katia says:

      This is very reassuring. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this comment. I agree, I think it’s essential for the kids to recognize that we’ve got other things going on in our lives. As an only child (married to another only child and the daughter of one) I know only too well what a burden being “the only thing” to someone can be.

  3. What a gift a loving mother is to her sons… and you are such a gift!

  4. Natalie DeYoung says:

    I’ve been wondering how it’s going for you. This was a good way to find out.

    • Katia says:

      Same here! I actually thought of you last week going into the elevator at work. How random? Funny how we meet for a few minutes but take up a place in each other’s hearts, right? Xo

  5. Alma Campos says:

    Good luck to you! Though, I think you’ve got it all covered.🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you, that’s so kind! Right now it doesn’t look like they’ll end up resenting me, but who knows, time will tell. Writing them a letter definitely helps.🙂

      • Alma Campos says:

        I can’t imagine. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about stay at home moms that go back to work, and how they manage to do it and our desire to do both. Be moms and aso for wanting accomplish our dreams. Would you mind if I mentioned you and this post?

      • Katia says:

        Absolutely, I’d be honoured!

        It’s a worthy topic for a post, for sure. I’d be curious to read your thoughts!

      • Katia says:

        So weird, I thought I responded to this. Absolutely, by all means! I’d love to read your take about this and feel free to refer to my post. Thank you!

      • Alma Campos says:

        Yeah that was weird. Oh well! I will definetly contact you when it’s ready!😉 have a good day.

  6. Laura M. says:

    I am preparing to go back to work just after the one year mark and cannot come to terms with it. I think I’ll follow suit and write a letter to arrange my thoughts. And then I’ll buy a lotto ticket and hope I win so I can stay home. Lol

  7. You’ve got a wise little man in your Ben. His comments are gems. Actually so is this post. The “… allows us to learn and feel good about ourselves in new ways…” sums it up for me. Your boys are blessed with you as their mom.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much for this, my dear dear friend. When I resume normal blog reading life I’m rushing over to yours. Hope all is well with you, the kids and your mom. Big hugs, Katia xo

  8. Sarah says:

    This is a pretty major epiphany. I know how hard this transition back to working can be. The mixed feelings. I’m glad you’re finding the good.

  9. lrconsiderer says:

    I love your soul, Katia, right through to the middlest middle. This is beautiful, and I’m so glad things are going alright at work, and that you’re managing to begin to adapt.

    Keep going with the advice from that philosopher boy of yours, my dear. He takes after you.

    • Katia says:

      This WARMED up my heart to the middlest middle (this is my new favourite expression and I intend to use it all the time). There’s something about opening up WordPress to read this comment and plugging into such kindness on your way home from work, where yes you feel accomplished, but not always known to your middlest middle. I❤ you.

      • lrconsiderer says:

        Makes you appreciate ‘home’ all the more, work does🙂 Still, it’s good to have and good to do, and I’m glad this comment warmed your heart. Keep being awesome, my friend🙂🙂

  10. Sarah Day says:

    Thanks for this – I’ve been contemplating a move back to FT work and the prospect seems overwhelming most days.

  11. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says:

    I went to work part time back in February and my girls are all in school, but it has still been a BIG adjustment. I can only imagine full time with younger little guys. I’m sure you are doing great – this post proves it!🙂

    • Katia says:

      I didn’t even know that, Lisa! I totally get how overwhelming it is, full time or part time! I think that part time might even be more overwhelming, shorter days at work – same amount of expectations, same thing for home. Hugs to you, friend, and thank you so much for your support!

  12. I love this: “Work allows us to do the things we want to do together as a family and alone as individuals and it allows us to learn and to feel good about ourselves in new ways.” I mostly work from home, which means I have to ignore my kids sometimes. What’s really hard is that my kindergartner never wants to go to school because he misses me and thinks he’ll be missing out on something. I’m going to try explaining school to him as something that allows us to learn and to feel good about ourselves in new ways. Time apart is a good thing and we always come back to each other. Lovely post, Katia!

  13. Dana says:

    I can imagine how life changing a full time job is for your whole family, Katia. But it sounds like it is a good thing, and that you are all adjusting well. I miss your words, my friend. I’ll come visit more often.

    • Katia says:

      And I’ve missed you, my friend! I really look forward to start reading blogs again. I find myself thinking of you and other blog friends and wondering what’s going on with everyone. Thanks so much for visiting, my friend. xoxoxo

  14. MrsG says:

    I love your blog so much. I take so much away from it every time. Thank you for opening up your heart.

  15. Mara says:

    I just started back at work after maternity leave and this post resonates a lot. It sounds like you’re doing a great job trying to find balance… so hard.

    • Katia says:

      It’s super hard to find balance. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m not sure it’s possible but what I have right now is not bad. Good luck to you and thank you so much for your comment!

  16. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    I’ve been thinking about you, Katia, wondering how your job is going for you. It sounds like it’s hard but also rewarding and I do know that the boys will adjust – seems that in many ways, they already have. I still just work part time but do relate to how hard it all is! Hugs to you my sweet friend!

  17. Ruth Anne says:

    This is a beautiful post, Katia. It’s so hard… I’m the full-time worker and my DH is the one who stays home, and I know he has the harder job of the two of us, but that doesn’t mean leaving them every morning is easy. I’m away from them for a Very Big and Important Work Thing this week and missing them with every ounce of my being. Nothing more heartbreaking than hearing my 2 y.o. ask me “Mommy more work?” over Skype. Yes, baby, Mommy more work, but Mommy wishes she were with you!

    • Katia says:

      Oh, Ruth Anne, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing this. I completely sympathize. My 2-year-old now asks whenever I put my shoes on”to work?”. It’s not easy leaving them behind and yes you do miss them with every ounce of your being but I know that the time I spend with them now is packed with meaning. I hope the Very Big Work Thing worked out well…🙂

  18. Nice! I like that you wrote this post as a letter and you tailored it to your children as the audience. My favorite line: “work allows us to do the things we want to do together as a family and alone as individuals and it allows us to learn and to feel good about ourselves in new ways.” Beautifully put.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed this. I was trying to imagine talking to them about this and so I had to identify what it is precisely that I want them to know.🙂

  19. The fact that they don’t always miss you shows how secure they are in their relationship with you. I struggled with that when my son had a problem leaving his dads house but not leaving mine. it is a testament to the bond you have built with them.

  20. Roshni says:

    It’s great to do something that personally fulfills you….that’s not selfish and that is not something to feel guilty about!
    I personally found how independent my boys became going to daycare from a young age. And, I do believe that I have a great relationship with each of them! So, no! No resentment; instead lot of quality good times!🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, my friend, I remember the post you wrote about ditching guilt. I theoretically agree but getting there emotionally is a work in progress…🙂

  21. I have also returned to work after a maternity leave (Where I birthed one baby and adopted another). Our new reality means there is less time with all three kids, while hard, they are home with their father now, which brings comfort. My working has allowed me to be a better mom, by concentrating my days givings into better evenings, and taking away “tired mom” that they used to get by the end of the day. When I get home, I’ve clearly been missed, and boy is the feeling mutual. Your kids are wise.

  22. ndunleavy says:

    Very beautiful and refreshing. Personally, I resented having to go back to a job I wasn’t passionate about after my first maternity leave. The guilt of being there instead of at home raising my daughter only got worse with time. When I got pregnant again, my husband found a job in northern Canada that would support our family on a single income so that I could be a stay-at-home working mom and start freelance writing (my real passion) after maternity leave. Our recent move was very difficult and is still fresh, but I think it is the greatest decision we could have taken for our family.

    • Katia says:

      Wow, so sorry I never responded to this. This month has been a bit of a whirlwind and I am out of the loop. I completely get the sentiment you describe here. This is how I felt after coming back to work after my first child. Resentment. No other way to describe it. I am so glad the writing thing worked out for you. I was hoping to be able to make a living off of that for a while but it didn’t happen. It’s amazing that you can spend more time with your kids and do what you love🙂

  23. 35mommy says:

    I can really relate to this post. I am also a full time working mom and struggle increasingly with that decision. On the one hand, I do feel it is good that my children understand that Mommy works and that “everyone has to work” – but on the other hand, I really struggle with guilt and missing time with them, especially while they are so young. I don’t know that I am still 100% confident with my decision, and it may change, but for today it is what it is… and it comforts me to know that others go through the same self-speak. 🙂

  24. Riley-YoungEarthyMama says:

    I can definitely relate to this! For the entire first year of my daughter’s life I was working more than full time, and it was SO hard. My husband stayed home with our kids and I believe that created a bond that they would have otherwise not had. They are now very close, and he got to experience most of our daughter’s “firsts,” and he was not able to do that with our son. My husband now works full-time so that I can stay at home with our children, and I am a now a stay-at-home mom. I can honestly say I love it but some days I think working would be easier😉

    • Katia says:

      I totally agree with you. In certain ways working is much easier: more predictable maybe. Staying at home is not easy it’s not easy in ways that are hard to foresee. I am glad, though, that you’re getting to catch up now on what you’ve missed. I know those ‘firsts’ are more frequent initially but I’m sure there’ll be new firsts that you’ll get to witness🙂

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