The decision on whether to go back to work or stay at home once you have a child is a momentous one. People spend hours, days, weeks, months, trying to decide what will work best for their family. There are countless factors that come into play when choosing (or not) to be a working parent. And I assure you, it is not one that is easy to make.
For me, personally, I did not have many options. I could just not afford to be home with her and not work. I did have the luxury, and yes I think it was a luxury, of free childcare so I could go back to work to provide for her. I remember those early days of packing her up and dropping her off. I cried and cried all the way to work, feeling like I was abandoning my baby and struggling with the possibility of missing milestones in her early years. I would rush home from work to pick her up to relish in those few short hours I would have with her before I had to tuck her in to bed. I would call often throughout the day, I am sure driving my childcare provider crazy, to hear how she was, what she was doing, did she eat, etc….As Emma got older, it got a bit easier. I called less. Cried a little less (hey, what can I say, I’m a crier).
Even now, with Emma being in school all day and 9 years old, I still struggle with the balance. There are times when I have to miss a school activity or event because of work and I know that it upsets my child. There are snow days and sick days where Nana and Papa are called to duty because I just cannot take the day off. It still hurts and makes me question if I made the right choice in the long run. But I also know that I could not provide Emma with the kind of life I think she deserves if I stayed home. There isn’t a moment during the day where I don’t think of my child and wonder what she is doing. Sometimes I wish I could be with her all the time and be there for every moment in her life. But I also know that she is in great hands with her teachers and that they are her “mom” while she’s at school.
So when you see those children whose parents could not attend hospitality day, the Halloween Party, or the holiday luncheon, please do not assume that we are not there by choice. Some of us do not have the option. Our hearts are there and I assure you, it is where we want to be. Because as we all know, Moms are moms all the time.
For more on the unique challenges of being a working parent, check out Proud Working Mom!