Alex asks me nearly every day, “Mommy, do you want to stay home with me for all of the time?” “Is today a no school day?” “Do you want to stay with me all the day?” He often asks me why I have to go to work, why I can’t just stay home with him, why I am not there every night to put him to bed. It’s the “do you want…?” that really hits me. Of course I want to, I tell him, but then how do I explain that I have to work? And that I also want to work (most of the time, anyway)?
Quite frankly, it breaks my heart.
He is learning so much these days, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it, let alone an entire day (or three) while I work crazy night shifts and don’t get to see him because I leave in the evening before he’s home from school and am not home in the morning before he leaves for the day.
Every other weekend I’m home, which is great. I cherish those weekends, even though one of those weekends my body is on night shift schedule and I really need to be sleeping the day away.
I knew it would be hard. I understood that my schedule would be tough on the three days that I work a week, but I didn’t realize that those three days would end up feeling more like 6 days a week. I don’t know why, or how, but three days a week feels like more than the five days a week I was at school for long, long, days. I don’t miss the guilt I felt taking a day off from homework to spend time with my family, though. Now, when I’m home? I’m home and that is a wonderful feeling.
But my goodness how time is flying by. Alex is over three and a half. Three and a half. How did that happen? Where did my toddler my go? He’s very quickly navigating his way into preschoolhood, kidhood, so-far-away-from-being-my-babyhood.
He uses the toilet. He uses prepositions, and accurately most of the time. He tells stories. He has a chore (putting away silverware). He gets dressed and undressed with minimal help. He is beginning to comprehend addition. I see his little brain churning away, and I find myself wondering what I’ve missed.
I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom when I made the decision to go back to school, to get a job, to work. But the guilt I feel missing milestones, sending him off to school, not tucking him in up to three times a week, makes me wonder why the grass must be so much greener on the other side.