Ain’t Gonna Sugar Coat It

I’ve been absent from Attachment Mama for 2 weeks now.  I’d like to put a PR spin on it for you, but the reality is — my transition back to work has been no cake walk for our family and I’ve been too tired to maintain my midnight blog posting routine. I’m working out a new system so that I can remain faithful to this important creative outlet and get some much needed rest.

After looking at four different preschools with summer programs in Austin, we finally decided on a summer camp which is conveniently either a nice stroller walk or a 3-5 minute drive from our house. The camp doesn’t start until Monday. So my first few weeks on the job, I opted to have my Eldest stay at her school until 5:00 and get baby-sitting support from a friend for my Littlest.  This past week with school out and both girls at home, I’ve had minimal baby-sitting support and had to tell the guys that I simply wasn’t going to be available.

Finding the childcare that we felt good about has been stressful for sure — but the bigger stress has been fretting about all the separation. Their feelings. My feelings. All of us missing each other.

Double tears in the morning. Double melt-downs in the evening that last off and on for 2 hours. A new trend of grouchy, demanding toddler talk with frequent hitting and kicking spells. Me considering returning to night-nursing because of my sadness and guilt that my connection with my almost 2 year-old baby is so minimal. Complete Sleep Fairy Bomb. My 3 year-old dropped all interest in the fairies in favor of me lying with her until she falls asleep again.  She had grown out of the need for parental pre-sleep spooning when she turned 2 — so it’s been over a year 1/2 since we’ve had that routine.  And I willingly accepted the regression.

The other night when I thought it would be safe for me to leave her bed before she fell asleep since we’d had so much time to connect over the long weekend, she started to weep, begging me not to go.

I said, “Sades, I’m just going to be downstairs and do some work on my computer and then I’ll be back to sleep with you for the rest of the night.”

In between sobs she cried, “Mommy please go really fast.”

“OK sweetie, I’ll be as fast as I can.”

“As (sob) fast (sob) as (sob) a cheetah, ok?”  Sniff. Sniff.

My cheetah days are long gone.  The last time I moved my body rapid-fast was when I saw Izzy falling off one of our bar stools and I moved like lightening to catch her mid-air.  Mark who witnessed the save was stunned and said, “Wow – I don’t think I’ve ever seen you move that fast!”

But in response to her tearful request, I said with a stoic straight face:

“Yes sweet angel. I’ll work like a cheetah and come back to you really fast.”

And she let me go.

Being at Whole Foods has been inspiring and invigorating in many ways and I’ve experienced unexpected sadness whenever I take a lunch break in the store by myself.

So much of what I’ve loved about Whole Foods in recent years has been sharing the food exploration experience with Sadie. She might love that place as much as I do now. We dance in the isles together if they’ve got a good 80’s tune playing (which is often at our store), we relish in indulging in every single sample they offer, and she reminds me of things we need that I’ve forgotten. (She’s always right.)

The first two weeks of work it was all I could do to get both girls ready for the day with their lunches prepped and get us out the door by 8:00 a.m.  I consistently forgot to pack my own lunch and would think, “Ah well, I’ll just grab something at the store.”

And every time I left the corporate office and went downstairs to the store to buy something I would inevitably see a mother shopping with her baby. By the end of the second week with all the emotions exploding on the home front every day, my ability to contain it all began to crumble.  I ran into a friend in the prepared food section one day and within a second of her asking, “How are you?!” I started crying in front of fifty other shoppers.  Good times.

Now I’m not so naive to believe that being apart from my girls will always feel this hard. I find myself remembering something one of my best friends said to me about working full-time when you have small children.  She said, “You just have to detach; that’s how you deal with it.”

I understand what she means now and I still find myself clinging to the possibility that some level of attachment parenting and working can co-exist.

My work in its current form means too much time apart. I’m attempting to give 30 hours/week to Whole Foods and 8-10 hours/week to a copy-writing client. I’m not willing to give up my consulting business altogether because it pays considerably more. In order to do both well translates into more than 40 hours/week because most people, including myself, are incapable of being 100% productive for 8 hours straight a day.

For right now, it’s important for me to keep going as is to get momentum going on income generation. And I hold the intention of ultimately finding a better balance of time apart from my girls where I can stimulate my mind and bring home some bacon, and time together that is a more than just breakfast, dinner, and bed-time stories.

My apologies for abandoning the Attachment Mama ship the past few weeks!  I fully intend to return to “regular programming” next week with articles that are less about me and my rambling back-to-work angst and more in service of my fellow Mamas (and Daddy’s too!).

Much Love to Everyone!!

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10 Responses to “Ain’t Gonna Sugar Coat It”

  1. Kristi Ward says:

    Much love to you! I was teary eyed reading this post.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing so candidly, Monica, as usual. I think it’s easy for people to skip over the hard parts of mothering because talking about them can make them feel inadequate. But there are hard parts for every mother, and the more we talk about them the more we can learn from each other.

    As my partner and I think about buying a new house, I have visions of grandeur. But as I read your post, I’m struck by this idea that we should be very careful about how we extend ourselves financially. I’m wondering if, we should try to create a situation where we are able to live off of one income. That way, when we do have children, if one of us wants to stay home full-time or if both of us want to work only part-time, we can.

    It’s just something I’m thinking through…

    • Sara –
      As someone who frequently learns the hard way, I can say if you’re drawn at all to Attachment Parenting and imagine wanting your future children to be at home with a parent during their early years — start planning now on how you can live with one salary or two part-time salaries. Quite frankly, we’ve had our asses kicked by my decision to stay home in combination with my husband’s business falling flat.
      I still cry a lot about it and sometimes I berate myself for being so foolish — but I will never regret the time I’ve had with my girls. I only regret the way we spent most of our savings on our house right before having our girls and then didn’t get super disciplined about changing our spending habits after the girls were born and we didn’t have my income anymore.

  3. Tammy says:

    My heart aches… Your honesty about your experience is as much of a service as any other article could be. Thanks for its gift. I’m drinking it in as I attempt to prepare for the duty and sacrifice for the greater good that parenting seems to require, which pregnancy only offers tiny glimpses of, I’m sure. As I attempt to overcome current resistance to work during pregnancy, not to mention the (far from my ideal) inevitability of being a working mother once our little one arrives, I’ve recently found some passages in the Bhagavad Gita, particularly those on the yoga of action, both comforting & compelling. Maybe they’ll speak to you, too (and hopefully not just be annoying)… “Without concern for results, perform the necessary action; surrendering all attachments, accomplish life’s highest good. Only by selfless action did Janaka and other wise kings govern, and assure the well-being of the whole world.” “God is the offering, God is the offered, poured out by God; God is attained by all those who see God in every action.” Big love to you all.

    • Oh Tammy – I feel your deep desire to nest with your baby. I feel it completely and totally. And you are in a beautiful, wonderful position to be able to work from home. It’s truly a gift from the Universe for mothers of small children. Yes, eventually you will need some support from another loving person to help care for your baby in order for you to work — and that person, carefully selected, will add to your baby’s life experience. Thank you for sending the Bhagavad Gita passages. Beautiful. God is attained by all those who see God in every action. Be Still, And Know that I am God.

      Love to you dear one!

  4. mcclain says:

    i was teary eyed as well. It must be so hard for you. It does get a little easier but it is never easy to be away and distracted. You are an excellent mother!

    • You are my best friend that I’m quoting in this post of course! I’m inspired by all that you have accomplished since having 2 children — including self-care. You are truly my hero!

  5. Christi says:

    Oh, I feel the same way when I see moms and I’m without my little ones. Thanks for sharing your pain and your confusion over nighttime routines, too. It helps knowing that the experience is not isolated. Keep up the good work.

  6. right there with you on the “foolish choices” that i absolutely do not regret. the money will come and go…and hopefully come again, but those early moments will my little boy are irreplaceable. ok. going to wipe my tears for you away. you are a strong one, and my hope is that life presents a surprising break for you soon.

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