Being a Working Mom and Missing Milestones

Working full time and being a mommy is so difficult.  I feel like I am constantly missing out on the Grasshopper and Cricket’s lives.  A few weeks ago, their teacher, who is also a dear friend of mine, texted me:

Cricket just rolled over!!!!

I knew it was on its way.  She was so close to doing it the night before.  My husband, the Grasshopper, and I were all watching her so carefully so that none of us would miss it when she finally did roll.  But she rolled over for the first time at school.  And I missed it.

I was so sad.  I sat at my desk and cried.  I couldn’t believe I missed it.  I felt so sorry for myself.  Why?  Why do I have to work?  It’s not fair.

It’s so hard being away from my girls.  In the beginning, it was intensely painful.  Walking away from Cricket on that first day back was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It felt wrong to me.  I was her mother.  I was supposed to be with her all the time.  I had spent nine months holding her in my womb and then three more months holding her in my arms.  It hurt so much to give her to someone else and let the door close behind me.

I grieved in those first few weeks.  Every instinct in my body was telling me to be with my baby and I couldn’t do it.  I cried so much.  I felt angry and sad and lost.  Looking back, I can see that I was going through the stages of grief.  Recognizing that made me feel even more angry.  A mother shouldn’t have to grieve.  A mother shouldn’t have to feel that sense of loss.  A mother shouldn’t have to leave her children to go to work before she’s ready.

In this country, we do not support mothers enough.  We do not provide adequate maternity leave.  Mothers suffer what I have gone through (twice!) every single day.

I have a dear friend who is working on changing that.  She’s at the front of a revolution.  Please read her blog to find out what we can all do to be a part of this revolution:  Mother Revolution.

They are also doing great things at MomsRising.org.  They do a great job of keeping an eye on upcoming legislation and providing concrete ways to get involved.

This past weekend, I was so blessed.  Little Miss Cricket had a developmental explosion!  She started rolling front to back, she started babbling, she found her toes, and on the train back from San Diego she popped out a brand new tooth!  I felt so thankful that I got to share those moments with her.

But a part of me is still raging inside.  That’s not something one should have to feel grateful about.  A mother should be able to be with her baby if she wants to.

Please join the revolution.

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8 thoughts on “Being a Working Mom and Missing Milestones

  1. I feel your pain, I really do. When Nicholas was a baby I was lucky enough to be able to be a SAHM for the first 17 months of his life. And then my world fell apart, and he was taken away from me. Ever since he was 17 months old, I’ve seen him on a limited basis. I’ve missed things like his first day of school, all of the Halloween trick or treating, and so many other things. I see him 48 hours a month right now.

    I know you hurt, but hold on to the knowledge that you come home to your girls every day, and that they are eagerly waiting for you. Not everyone has even that.

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      1. And I am grateful that you never will. 🙂 I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But hey, I got to see his first time standing up on his own, his first step, his first smile, his first rolling over. There are precious memories that are mine alone, so I guess it evens out in the end.

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  2. We have chosen for me to stay at home with our little one, so I do not know the pain of leaving a child in daycare, but I fully acknowledge and respect that it must be incredibly difficult. I also completely agree that we need some maternity leave reform, or at the least, more options for women and families.

    But I just wanted to add my perspective as a SAHM, so that you may find a teeny bit of consolation in that the grass may not be quite as green as you imagine it to be when you are thinking about all of the milestones you miss. Although I do get to spend a great deal of time with our little one, I worry that there will not be many fulfilling career opportunities for me when I do choose to return to the workforce. I feel guilty that I don’t contribute financially, even though I know that I do in the sense that I provide childcare. I desperately miss the professional respect and camaraderie of colleagues, and the personal satisfaction of working. I often find that late afternoon goes by SO slowly, as I long for a few minutes by myself and I’m not always sure that I have enough patience to provide quality interaction all day long. In short, I do feel like staying at home was the right decision for us, but this path also has some challenges.

    While I totally empathize with your very real and legitimate grief at missing these milestones with the Grasshopper and Cricket, I also encourage you to think about some of the benefits of working, at least to help you get through this rough path.

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  3. When my oldest was in day care her providers were always careful to say “She’s so close”. I’m sure half the time she had already done the thing but they let me and my husband own what we got to see. I am so grateful for this.

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    1. Mary, my daycare does the same thing. She once confided to me that she’s tried to never have a “first” because she knows how much it means to her moms. (I truly love our daycare. We are so lucky.)

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