I got my first paycheck in five years.
After my first day at work, I came home in a great mood.
How was it? my husband asked.
It was great, I replied. I went to the bathroom 4 times and no one cried. They had coffee. Free coffee! I got a badge thing that I beep against the keypad and it unlocks the door. I felt like an agent working at the Men in Black headquarters.
He shook his head and stopped listening but I wasn’t done.
I had conversations with adults that weren’t interrupted by a child. I didn’t have to sprint off mid-sentence to go catch a runaway toddler. I ate lunch that didn’t require half an hour of clean up afterward.
Oh, and I got to sit in traffic for 45 minutes on the way there AND on the way back. That’s an hour and a half of just me Spotify playlist of high school music. I got to relive my clubbing days and sang my heart out. But the absolute best part of my day was when I got home and the kids were so happy to see me. There’s being taken for granted day in and day out, and then there’s your kids running up to hug you and I’ll take the latter any day.
No regrets. I’m loving this decision to go back to work.
The next morning I woke up before the sun and got dressed while everyone slept. No one grabbed my makeup brushes to sweep the bathroom floor with. No toddler ran off with my lipsticks stolen off the bathroom counter to decorate his own face with. I didn’t have to chase down a pint-sized Maui warrior with a makeup remover wipe. It was a quiet and peaceful morning. I drank an entire cup of coffee while it was still hot.
Over the next couple of weeks, my enthusiasm for work waned a little.
It sucks to wake up in the dark. Especially, when the babies have snuck into your bed at night and are all warm and snuggled into you. I left my heart at home every time I left for work. I also worried about the kids all day long. I called to check in with my mom way more than I needed to. I furiously texted when I remembered something.
His stuffed turtle is under his bed – he will ask for it at nap time.
Make sure they drink a lot of water.
Wait…you’re taking them to Chuck E Cheese? Why?!
Then the people around me slowly started to annoy me. There are a lot of different personalities at work and unfortunately, no one gets put in time out. When people get cranky at work you can’t announce that it’s nap time and shut things down for two hours.
Sitting in traffic stopped being fun because I was eager to see my babies at the end of each day. I missed their softness and the scent of them. I missed their wild animated stories and always being made the ‘monster’ that they would have to attack.
The kids missed me too. Tantrums after dinner became the norm because they weren’t used to spending barely an hour with me before it was bedtime.
It all hit me on Earth day. There was a picnic at my son’s preschool, that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I had been there for Easter egg hunts, birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving feasts, and Christmas parties. I had photographic evidence of every single event and milestone of his childhood all captured in my phone.
How could I miss this?
My husband offered to take a long lunch and attend the picnic in my place. I was relieved that my son would still have someone there but still disappointed that it wasn’t me.
I was beginning to understand the sacrifices working mom’s make. I know this was a small one but it was a first. What I wanted was the best of both worlds. Around midday my husband texted me a picture of our son smiling holding a sandwich in his hand. He looked so happy.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
I know it sounds ridiculous but I was heartbroken that I missed the picnic. I realize that it wasn’t about the picnic itself. What I really missed was spending time with my little boy who was growing up way too fast. It later occurred to me that the next event I would miss was Muffins with Mom’s – the school’s celebration for Mother’s day. I held it together long enough to get home, then I bawled my eyes out.
There’s been a whole lot of missing going on these last several weeks. Me missing the kids. The kids missing me. Everyone missing a home made meal because there wasn’t time to cook. I’m having a tough time adjusting to this new way of life. I know the boys will be fine. Kids are amazingly resilient and adaptable like that.
And hey, I got paid for the first time in five years!
And I’m probably going to spend it all at Chuck E Cheese.