In my mind, surely placed there by a thousand ad campaigns and television shows, the working mom stood by the stove, frazzled, while the kid cried his face off nearby. This was the image I had of what our home life would be like when I went back to work. I was shocked and pleased when it turned out that Atticus was just fine in the afternoons. He napped at school and was cheerful when he came home. Back when he was still needing one more short nap, Mike or I would rock him to sleep and enjoy the snuggle time. Sometimes he’s cranky. But, let’s face it, sometimes I’m cranky around 5:00, too. He likes school and has kind teachers and is learning so many things. It’s all been so much better than I imagined the first day I soldiered back to work, sure I had destroyed my child’s future.
Last week, though, was every horrible thing I thought being a working mom would be. Atticus cried at drop-off and he cried in the evenings while I worked on dinner. One morning I drove all the way to work with Mike’s keys and had to turn around and drive them back home. There were some long days and all of us were exhausted. On Friday, Atticus got a fever and he decided that he didn’t like me too much since I was the one who kept dropping him off at his school.
So, not the easiest transition ever.
It culminated in a weekend where Atticus sobbed for his daddy if Mike stepped more than two feet away from him. Things I know are true: he is confused about the changes in our routine, he is tired, he is getting over being sick. Another thing that is true: it hurt to have him act repulsed by me. There was a particular low point on Sunday when I held him for over an hour as he wailed for his daddy (who was at work). I said, over and over, “I love you. I am sorry you feel this way.” He finally stopped crying long enough to fall asleep on my shoulder. He slept for an hour only to wake up sobbing again.
(He’s really heavy these days and half my height. I had to maneuver him into the crib. Is that an Olympic event? It seems way harder than race walking.)
Mike is so sweet about these things. He kept trying to get Atticus to make positive connections about me (You know who else loves dinosaurs? MAMA!) and singing songs about me. But Atticus was having none of it. Mike finally conceded that he could not go to the grocery store and that, instead, he would be the one to take Atticus to the pool. That there was no way Atticus was going to let himself be left alone with me.
I didn’t really want to tell Atticus goodbye, because I kind of figured that he wouldn’t care. And I’d spent an hour telling him I loved him while he wailed for someone else. I am only human, y’all.
As I walked out of the door, I said, “Bye-bye, buddy!” He looked at me and said, “Bye-bye, Mama!” then reached his arms up and said, “Kiss!” After he kissed me he said, “I love you!”
I changed my mind about running away from home. I think I’ll stay.