It’s Monday morning after a great long weekend getaway filled with fun and family time. I’m dropping Liam off at child care where I assumed there might be a few tears. What I didn’t expect was that those tears would be my own. I was sitting in his classroom with him, playing and laughing and the thought of leaving him absolutely broke my heart. I was totally caught off guard by the emotion I was experiencing in that moment. Liam had been in child care for nearly nine months and with the exception of those difficult first few weeks, I had never had some much trouble leaving him. It’s obvious that he’s very happy in child care—he smiles, kicks his feet and claps his hands as we walk into his classroom every day and lights up when he sees his teachers and friends. What was wrong with me?
In that moment, I was overwhelmed by the realization of how quickly he is growing. He’s nearly one and the past year has flown by. He’s such a happy, silly, curious little guy and that day, all I wanted to do was spend my time exploring and being silly with him. It seems like yesterday that I would hold him in my arms for hours on end and in the blink of an eye he’s crawling, and now walking (he took his steps over the weekend!) , and soon enough won’t be so interested in cuddling with mom. I’d been told more times than I can count how quickly times goes by when you have a baby but it wasn’t until I had my own flesh and blood reminder of just how quickly time passes that I finally understood.
Of course, sitting there I also knew that staying with Liam that day was not an option. In addition to my work being a financial necessity for our family, I also truly enjoy my job. It has always been important to me to have an intellectually stimulating career and without that, I know I would feel like something was missing. Being a working mom can be really tough but when I step back, I really do believe that the fulfillment I get from work makes me a happier person (most days anyway) and therefore, a better mom. But at that moment, that belief was of little comfort. Many moms talk about working mom guilt but for me, it felt more like sadness. Sadness for the time I missed spending with my beautiful baby, time I surely won’t get back.
I did eventually leave. I left my smiling, happy child in the care of his wonderful teachers and walked to work with tears running down my face. Thankfully that morning was an aberration from our usual routine (and one I hope not to repeat) but it was an excellent reminder to savor every moment I do have with my little guy. I may not be able to choose to spend an idle Monday with him but I can choose to be fully present with him when we get home from work. I can choose to greet him ready to laugh and play at the end of the work day even when I may not feel like it. I can choose to save the laundry and cleaning and household chores until after bedtime recognizing they ultimately are not as important as quality time with my family. As Gretchen Rubin found, so I have found, “The days are long, but the years are short.”