My 3.5 year old is just starting to figure out that some mommies, likely seemingly better mommies in his estimation, stay home. They do not go to work. Their job is to watch their children. The first conversation went something like this:
“Mommy. Andy’s mommy does not go to work. She stays home and watches Andy.” (Andy is the little boy in Toy Story.)
“Well, I watch you and I go to work,” I say, trying not to panic. “Aren’t you proud that mommy went to school for a long time and works really hard to make a difference in the world? Isn’t it nice that I earn money to buy us food and clothes and TOYS?” (I figure the “toys” insertion will win the day – it does.)
Mommy – 1; mommy-guilt – 0…for that day.
Cut to three days later, however.
We experience the worst drop-off at preschool/daycare since approximately age two. Complete with leg-hanging, teacher-pulling, arms-outreaching, tears-falling, heartbreaking “But I miss you”s. This wonderful day’s conversation went something like this. No, exactly like this – I cannot forget the words this time.
“Mommy, why do you have to go to work? Why can’t you stay home?”
“Well, a lot of people depend on me to be at work and I need to make money to buy you toys.” I am certain the little guy can hear the desperation in my voice as I try to resort back to the “toys” win of the other day.
“But why can’t you just stay home for one day?”
“I do. I stay home on Saturdays and Sundays.”
“But why can’t you just stay home for one school day?”
“Because, son. I work, and you play and learn with your friends at school.” SIGH.
“But, Mommy, I miss you.”
Terrible drop-off day two. The tears today were mine. Let’s face it, I really want to cling to his leg and hold my arms out for “one more hug.” Six years from now (if I am lucky to make it that long), he will not want to spend this time with me. He will not want “one more hug.” I do what I tell him, though.
I keep him in my heart. I look forward to the afternoon. I read to him. I play on the floor with him. I hug him. I kiss him. I tell him I believe in him and that I am proud of him. I love him. Then, I go to work, and come home, and prepare to do it all over again the next day. Because that is what a working mom does. Because, one day, he will be proud of me, too.