10 Thoughts All Working Moms Have When Their Kids Go Back To School After Winter Break
Oh, hey, guys. Sorry, I almost didn't see you there what with my vision being blurred by all these feels I'm currently sorting through. Not sure about you, but I got super-spoiled by the last few weeks since my whole family was home for the holidays. And we definitely took advantage of it, too. I'm talking sleeping in, mid-day snuggles, snowy adventures, holiday celebrations and traditions, trips to see our long-distance loved ones — the whole Winter Break shebang.
Our situation is a bit unique since my partner teaches and I work from home. So, short of his time on campus for class and office hours, we have fairly fluid schedules, meaning we only use about twenty hours of childcare per week. I realize isn't the norm for families with two working parents, but we still felt the difference while we were all home together for the holidays for almost four solid weeks, which somehow managed to feel super-short and kinda long all at the same time.
But, like all good things, it indeed has come to an end. Today's the first day of a new academic term, so my husband and son were up and wearing real clothes by 6:45 a.m. this morning, something that hasn't happened in weeks. I, on the other hand, am wearing sweats over my pajamas, so it's business as usual (working from home is so glam, don't let anyone tell you otherwise). Still, seeing them off this morning was rough, I'm not going to lie. I would venture a guess that I'm not alone in the surge of emotions I experienced. Here's a sampling of what went through my head:
"Welp, There Goes My Heart Getting Ripped Out Of My Chest (Again)."
The bye-bye wave kills me. It kills me. Sure, I'm glad to see that he's comfortable and somewhat cheerful while his dad carries him to the car, but on the inside I'm crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.
"I Wonder If His Teachers Will Notice How Much He's Changed."
Somehow, my son managed to grow a clothing size and double his vocabulary in the last month. OK, that might be a ~slight~ exaggeration, but still, you guys. It was mind-blowingly awesome to see it all. I can't expect his teachers to care as much as I do, but I can't help but wonder if maybe they'll care just a little.
"I Hope His New Clothes Don't Get Ruined."
We have my son's grandparents (oh snap, I mean Santa) to thank for his new winter wardrobe, which he's been unknowingly modeling for his dad and me for days. Part of me was tempted to keep the new stuff tucked away so it stayed nice, but I fought the urge. I may still be a fairly new mom, but I learned pretty early on that trying to keep toddler clothes nice is a fruitless endeavor. Besides, as cute as the clothes look in the drawer, they are ten times cuter when they are actually on him. Also, let's not be insane people here: Clothes are for wearing. Even if wearing means bidding adieu to their pristine condition.
"Am I Leaning In Yet? Is This It? Am I Doing It Right?"
Honestly, I don't even know what qualifies as "leaning in" anymore. But I like to ask because it feels good to think what I'm doing has wider implications for feminism and society and the great work-life balance debate and all my fellow working moms.
"At Least I Have Coffee And Adult Interactions To Distract Me From Missing My Kid."
Not going to lie, both which help me feel like a contributing member of society, something that I like to think my son picks up on. While I value my role of a mom more than any other, I can't turn off the parts of my brain that are stretched when I'm working, and the positive ways that it makes me feel. Which is awesome! All the many upsides to every part of my life distract me from missing the other parts. When I'm working, I love it so much that it helps me miss my kid less; When I'm with my kid, it's so amazing that it makes me miss work less."
"I Know I'm Setting A Good Example By Working And That It Makes Me A Better Mom Because I Would Be Miserable Otherwise...But Also My Kid Is Really Cute And I Miss Him."
Like most working parents, I've considered my options inside and out, backwards and forwards. Even the fact that I'm part of a family where we're lucky enough for me to have options about whether or not to work is something I've spent hours contemplating. My partner and I ultimately agree that the home environment we can create with two working parents is what's best for us and for our son. And I don't mean just what finances allow (we both are in creative fields so it's not like we're making ~super serious bank~ or anything) — it's about showing him our values through our actions, and doing what makes us feel fulfilled.
But this doesn't mean it gets any easier to say good-bye each day.
"This Is All Normal And Fine And Everything Is OK."
I get the impression — from my conversations with other working parents, from the headlines I read, the posts on my feeds, the books on my shelf — that my struggle is not unique. My personal feeling is that experiencing a wide range of emotions about parenting is probably normal, so I'm going with it. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be distracting myself with an overly spunky Spotify playlist and this third cup of coffee.
"Oh, Thank God."
I mean, by early January, we've kind of exhausted all of the toys and books in our house, and — no joke — there's like ten inches of snow in our yard still. If we had to spend one more day trying to entertain our toddler indoors, he probably would have started to hate us. And I've accepted the fact that this will probably happen someday, I'm hoping to at least hold it off until his teenage years. It's definitely a good thing, for all of us, that he gets out of the house now.
"I Forgot What It Sounds Like To Not Have A Child Around All The Time. Wow. So That's What My Inner Voice Sounds Like."
Oh hey, inner voice, nice to hear from you. What's that, you say? You don't feel like reading that same board book about trucks right now? Don't worry, inner voice. I got you.
"Eh, Maybe I Should Let Him Go Back To School, But I'll Take A Few More Days Off Work."
Because naps. I want naps.
Images: Philippe Put/Flickr; Giphy(10)