Friday, October 1, 2010

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Guest Post: A Kiss Before Dying - The Mommy Version

I wanted to share this with you. It was written by my friend and new mom Alex. Alex went back to work today after spending 3 bliss filled months at home with her son, Nicolas. I obviously don't know what it feels like to have a child and go back to work so I don't understand the pain of having to make that separation. Because Alex does, I wanted to share her experience and thoughts with you. 

My maternity leave is officially over. On the eve of my return to work, I sit here full of anxiety at not just what tomorrow holds, but what the future holds for me as a mother. Nicolas was especially difficult to put to bed tonight. I've never heard him cry so much and so intensely. Did he somehow find out that I'm leaving him tomorrow? "Don't leave me Mommy," said his little hands as they gripped my fingers. "I'm sorry, honey, I have no control over this," said my arms holding him tight as I walked with him around the room trying to calm him. 

Am I dying you ask? No, but I feel like I am. This person, this mother I have become will die tomorrow and a new one will take her place. Although the past few months at home with Nicolas have been a piece of heaven on Earth, I have unknowingly been working my way through the stages of dying. The date of my death was set almost a year ago, that glorious day back in October 2009 when I found out I was pregnant. I went into work that morning so hopeful. Here was my chance to get out of this crappy job and start my new life. Get ready to take on the job I was born to do - become a stay-at-home mom. My dreams were short-lived. I returned home that day from work to find out that my husband had lost his job. Clock set. Estimated Date of Death: October 1, 2010. 

I spent my entire pregnancy in denial. There was the looming possibility that my lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom would not come to fruition, but I stubbornly ignored it. "There's no way we can't make this work for at least a year,"I kept telling myself. Even if our income wasn't enough, we would have enough saved up to make it happen. I don't know if it was denial or hopefulness. The months went by as I worked and saved money to kept my dream alive. Ignoring the fact that my husband still couldn't find work, my daily mantra was: "Don't worry, everything will work out." 

By the time Nicolas was born, nothing had really changed for us financially, other than the fact that I was starting maternity leave and there would be no income in the house. We'd be living straight off my savings. The more time I spent at home with Nicolas and the more attached we became, the more in denial I became. "I can't go back to work. How can I go back to work October 1st if he needs me to do the things only his mom would know to do."  

Suddenly, it hit me. I was no longer in control of this. It was going to happen and I have always known this. I would have to return to work while Daddy, still unemployed, stayed home with Nicolas. Now, anger rears its ugly head at the most unexpected moments. One moment I'm happy and having a great day, and out of nowhere something sets me off. I'm furious. I don't want anyone to talk to me. I don't want anyone to touch me. Nicolas is the only one that can bring a smile back to my face and distract me from the rage.

And this anger is directed to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. I'm angry at myself - Why didn't you wait a bit more time to have this beautiful child, wait until things were actually stable with your husband's job so that he could be the sole provider? You put yourself in this position. I'm angry at my husband - How could you let this happen? This was my lifelong dream and you have stolen it from me! You could have done more to save me from the fate that awaits me. This is a once in a lifetime chance and I will always hold this against you. I'm angry at all those mothers who reluctantly stay at home with their kid(s) while wishing they were working - Are you kidding? What kind of a mother are you? Why can't I be in your shoes? Why is it that someone like you gets to stay home with their child and someone like me, dying to stay home with my son, cannot? You should be grateful for this special time you have with your kid! I'm angry at my employer and coworkers - You are the ones keeping me from my son, how dare you! You told me you would work with my schedule when I returned; now working part-time isn't a possibility. LIARS! Oddly enough, the only people I'm not angry at are the stay-at-home moms who realize what a privilege they have been given and really make the most of their time with their kid(s).  

I start to think, "Maybe I can get out of this. I should talk to the big man up there." Enter the nightly prayers to God, Jesus, anyone who will listen. I set Nicolas down in his crib and bow my head to the cross that hangs on the wall over him. 

Dear God, thank you for blessing us with Nicolas. Thank you for keeping him healthy and protecting him. He is so important to me and, as you know, I love him with all my heart and soul. If you can, please please find a way to give me more time at home with him. Just until he is a year old. I'll go back to work full-time after that with no complaints. I will work the rest of my life if I have to, but please give me this time right now. Help my husband find some work so that this can become a reality. I'll be the breadwinner our whole lives if need be, but let me please enjoy the first year of each of my children's lives at home with them.

Although I have already passed the denial stage, these prayers are my last hope. My last attempt to change my fate.  

It's over, not even God can fix this. Heck, it's part of his plan. I may think that I was meant to be a stay-at-home mom, but that is not what he has in mind for me. Returning to work is inevitable and I am filled with depression and guilt. I cry, and cry, and then cry some more. I cry myself to sleep night after night. Nicolas reaches a milestone and I cry at the thought that I won't be home when he hits the next one. I will never witness any more firsts. I cannot be the hands-on mom that I always wanted to be. Still crying. With my work schedule, my time with him will be limited to bedtime and weekends. I won't be able to make those monthly treats to celebrate him turning one month older. There won't be as many pictures of him. When he starts eating solids, I'm going to miss his reactions to each new vegetable or fruit he is introduced to. Will the next entries in my monthly journal be empty because I won't be able to comment on all of Nicolas' developments that month? 

The depression is so strong some days that I can't even enjoy being home with my son and Daddy has to take over. Just looking at Nicolas reminds me of what I'll miss and makes me cry. I can't hold him because I'll cry. And then I cry because I just wasted a day crying instead of taking advantage that I'm still on maternity leave. The depression is like the anger, it comes waves and out of nowhere.  

After working through all the conflicts and feelings that returning to work brings, acceptance is achieved. I've become tired of the emotional roller coaster and succumbed to the inevitable. I'm not saying that I have resolved all the depression, guilt, and anger; although those feelings have subsided, they remain, deep down. But at least I have come to realize that it's not the end of the world. Nicolas will be home with his dad and not some stranger or at some day care. At least someone is working and bringing in the income needed to purchase the formula and diapers for Nicolas so we don't have to waste taxpayer money by subscribing to government programs. I will just have to squeeze in the things that I want to do with Nicolas into weekend time frames. I will have to work extra hard to give him everything I had planned for him. Lucky for him, he has a strong woman for a mother so I CAN give him these things. Although things will be different, they may not necessarily be worse. And hopefully, my efforts will be rewarded and I get to spend more time at home with the next child. 

So tomorrow morning will come and this mom will get ready for work. She will give Nicolas one last kiss before the new mom takes her place. This new mom is a lot like the old mom. This new mom won't be around as much as the old mom, but she will not love Nicolas any less. This sacrifice she is undertaking shows that she loves Nicolas even more.

No comments: