The topic this week is regrets.
My children are eleven months apart. We wanted kids close together, but no one does that on purpose. My son’s enormous heart and kind spirit make up for his horrifying fetal behavior, but I was sick every single day of my pregnancy. There were dozens of times I held my infant daughter on one hip while throwing up into a public toilet. She found it hilarious.
When my son made his way to the world, a month early, I had been on bedrest for 6 weeks. My daughter was legit pissed at his arrival. My son was sick. I was sick. We had a horrible go of it the first two months. My daughter would point at the door with a scowl on her face and say, “BYE BYE BABY.” She didn’t know who this new high maintenance human was, but she knew exactly how she felt about him.
I tell you all this in defense of the fact that I RAN back to work two weeks before I had to. It was easy when it was just my daughter, but with two infants I felt overwhelmed and undertrained. I was certain a paid professional could handle the day to day better than I could.
I don’t regret going back to work. I liked my job. I made a good living. And I was right: we had an amazing nanny who had mad skills and award-winning patience I lacked. What I regret is that I dove back into work before getting comfortable with motherhood, which caused tremendous self-doubt. I’d like to blame society’s expectations, but I think it might have more to do with the fact that my desire to want to nurture usurped the experience of nurturing at that young, vulnerable age.
Propelled by guilt, on weekends my husband and I ran our house like a summer camp– trips to the zoo, amusement park, and aquarium, park picnics, pool times, ice cream treats. Disney for the weekend! Daytona beach! We were on the go! From the outside it looked like we were killing this parenting thing.
“Such great work/life balance,” friends and family commended. We’d smile, but the truth was we were exhausted. It was too much. And because we were constantly moving, we weren’t taking the time to get to know our children.
The first weekend after I quit (when they were three and four), I asked– possibly for the first time– what they wanted to do with the day. I threw out the long list of places we were members as possibilities. My daughter shook her head and said, “Momma, let’s just be lazy together.”
“Yes!” my son said, jumping up and down. “Let’s stay in jammies and play!”
It was an aha moment. They were exhausted by the show too. All my children wanted from me was me. I’d convinced myself all the running around was for their benefit, but it was in response to my fear. I’d already put on my clothes for the day, ready to run around like a mad woman, but I went back to my closet and got on pjs. It’s how we’ve spent every weekend morning since.