What can I say to my son on those days when he doesn’t want to leave home? How do I tell him that I have made decisions in my life - decisions long before he was even a thought in my mind - that mean I have no choice other than to leave him every day?
I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Going to work everyday didn’t bother me when I went back to work after 9 months on maternity leave. Sure, I missed him, but I enjoyed my work and the challenges it gave me and I still do.
But…lately I feel a constant pull in two opposing directions. Since the holidays, when Matt and I were both off for over a week, Brandon has changed. Getting out of the house is a monumental battle at least half the mornings in a good week and all of them in a bad week.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I leave him with a friend. She cares about him and treats him well. I don’t have to leave him with a stranger. When we walk out the door, he is fine. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to go to daycare - he just doesn’t want to leave home. He doesn’t want to leave mommy and daddy.
I hear all the time that women have choices in the world now. We’ve been liberated from our previous generation’s oppressive views. We can stay home with our children and do the work of raising them. Or we can work and “have it all”.
I hate that phrase for the lie that it is.
I do not have it all. I don’t get to spend those hours with my son. I miss out on an enormous chunk of his life at an age that I will never get back. And I’m starting to feel overwhelming guilt for the choices I made before he was ever born that have led me to this juncture. Hindsight gives me clarity that at several points I could have done things differently. And though it’s possible that an alternate path would have led to the same result, I’m in a place where I can’t help but question my decisions.
Ultimately, I feel like I’ve been failing my son these last few months. While I leave everyday to work in a job that I enjoy, I’m increasingly aware that I leave behind a little boy who seems to grieve when Mommy and Daddy say goodbye. It’s excrutiating.
I want to stay home with him - to give him the time he craves with me. But I can’t. I have to leave.
I have no choice.