I wonder if it ever gets easier. That moment when you have to hand over your child and they cling to you with all their strength, crying for their mother not to leave them. You put on a brave face and reassure them that you love them very much and will be back with them in no time. You try get them to look at your smiling face for reassurance and secretly pray that they don’t see the wave of unshed tears that you are holding back behind your eyes. If I have to describe how I feel in those moments it would be this:
After the wave of threatening tears is finally fought back down by my clenched jaw, my chest feels hot and empty. My throat is tight and I pray that no one calls for at least five minutes until I have composed myself. Every instinct in me is to grab my child and run. To run away to some magical land where I never have to leave him unless he and I are both content to do so. To a land where I can show him that mommy won’t leave him until he is ready for me to leave him.
In these moments I feel so alone. Like no one around me understands. It feels like admitting how desperately my heart rips apart makes me a weak person and that somehow this will magically also make me worse at my job. It’s a secret I feel that I have to hide if I want a chance at being successful in my career.
Let’s also not talk about the guilt. In moments like these I hear the countless judgmental voices that have told me how cruel I am and what a terrible mother I am. I hear them say that I am causing my child irreparable damage by teaching him that mommy isn’t there for him. In these moments I wholeheartedly agree with the voices of my loved ones who have said these things to me and every little piece of my worn heart rips apart in the most agonizing way.
Be careful what you say. You have no idea how your words will haunt others in the most devastating way when you have long forgotten what you once said. I wish that I had heard more words of encouragement about working mothers in my past but looking back mostly I remember so much judgment and see so little emotional support. I will make it my mission to give other mothers positive words to reflect on in these moments. Why not do the same?