My heart’s not broken, but it is dented

Husband, sandwiched between two fretting babies, was trying to settle them down for a nap before I left for work. “I think they want to get up,” I said, watching him pat Robin’s back while Wren’s lower lip began to tremble. “They don’t want to go back to sleep.”

He sighed. “If I put them in the stroller they’ll be asleep before we’ve gone one block. We go through this every morning.”

What he said: “We go through this every morning.”

What I heard: “You don’t know how it works, because you’re not here.”

And I cried.

Being a working parent is not fun for me. Although Husband makes every effort to keep me in the loop – taking photos of the babies on their perambulations, regaling me with the details of their day – I feel left out of my family. When I call home from the office, I inevitably wake somebody up, so I try not to call. Before the babies were born, we planned to have Husband bring them in to the office a couple of times a week for a lunchtime visit; Wren’s hatred of the car and high gas prices have put the kibosh on that one. It often feels like we have a two-part family: husbandandkids, and me.

It would be easy for some to take my feelings and use them to bolster spurious arguments about what women “should” do, what our “place” is, so let me just head that line of thinking off right here. If my job were an interesting, rewarding place to be, I would feel less angst about being away. If I weren’t breastfeeding, and therefore pumping four times a day in my office (fun!), I would have an easier time ignoring the distance between me and my children. And if I didn’t know so many moms who stayed home with their kids, I might not grieve my own inability to make that happen. My gender alone does not determine my experience.

I am grateful that Husband is home with our babies, and that they will have a chance to forge a strong relationship right from the beginning. I only wish I could spend more time with all of them. And that money would rain down on us from heaven. Only cash, though; a quarter could do some serious damage from that height.

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24 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Annika said,

    I wish this wasn’t so hard on you. And that I could throw some nice, large-denomination bills at you.

  2. 2

    Sara said,

    Oh boy, can I sympathize. Most of the moms I know don’t work outside the home, and I get very jealous of the time they have with their children. Note, I didn’t say they don’t work — I know that staying at home with a small child is a job!

    I wish I had some wonderful piece of advice that would make it all better, or barring that, large wads of cash (no quarters), but I really don’t. The usual options presented are either find a job that allows you to work from home (because that’s so easy with small children), or has on-site daycare (because those are so plentiful), or one where you can work nontraditional hours when the kiddos are asleep. Of course, finding jobs like these in this economy is a heck of a lot easier said than done [especially jobs we are 1. qualified for and 2. would actually enjoy].

    I hope that your situation will change and that you’ll be able to be comfortable and enjoy your beautiful babies!

  3. 4

    Nora said,

    Hugs.

    On the phone thing– maybe you should get Husband a cell phone and put it on vibrate and then it can be answered without waking anyone up.

  4. 5

    Natalie said,

    Aw dang.
    Sending much love.

  5. 6

    uccellina said,

    Nora – problem is, babies often nap ON TOP of Husband. So even scrambling to get a vibrating phone would wake them up.

  6. 7

    Celeste said,

    I’m sorry. I know how it is, except that I used daycare. It’s NOT easy to go back to work, particularly if it’s to Just A Job. You are a good mom for providing for the family.

    I will say that I think it works out that you can’t snag some visits during the work week because one goodbye per day is quite enough. I did a drop-in on DD as a toddler once and she was CRUSHED that seeing me didn’t mean we all got to go home together at that moment.

    You are in my thoughts!

  7. 8

    Red Diabla said,

    How about texting? I’m thoroughly addicted to texting.

  8. 9

    uccellina said,

    Texting requires access to thumbs, which Husband usually doesn’t have (holding babies).

  9. 10

    esperanza said,

    Oh, sweetie. So sorry. And pumping four times a day in your office? Yikes, that’s a lot of potential for TMI with the co-workers. You’re awesome.

  10. 11

    Liz said,

    So many hugs and kisses for you. And lanolin.

  11. 12

    kathy a. said,

    xoxoxox. that’s all i got, but this will get easier. xoxoxoxoxo

  12. 13

    Benjamin said,

    You are executing an amazing balancing act, and I (and apparently the other commenters on this blog) are sympathetic and proud of you for pulling it off with such aplomb. The love you have for your kids is so evident and heartfelt, and your honesty here is much appreciated. I congratulate you on the entire endeavor, for what it’s worth.

    xo

  13. 14

    Nora said,

    Bluetooth?

  14. 15

    Diane Dawson said,

    Hugs, hugs, hugs.
    My heart weeps every day when I have to drop Lilly off. And now her daycare closed unexpectedly, so I need to uproot her again.

    Gaaahhhh…

  15. 16

    Red Diabla said,

    Duct tape the kids to Husband’s torso so that he has access to phone?

  16. 17

    KS said,

    Well, the answer here is clear. Move to Virginia and get some goats. This will solve all your problems. Do it now.

  17. 18

    Annika said,

    I resent KS trying to steal you from me.

  18. 19

    KS said,

    Annika, you can come too! In fact, I’m sure your screenplay would sell if you moved to VA and got goats. I’m just sayin’…

  19. 20

    Michelle said,

    Oh man, do I feel your pain. I still cry every time I leave my baby behind (4+ months old now) to go to work. My husband put it best when he said “meeting his needs and keeping him safe includes keeping a roof over his head.” I try to think of that as I sob out to the car, that going to work is as critical to his survival as feeding him. Feeding him is more fun (and usually more fulfilling). My mom is our primary childcare, and my husband works from home, so he sends pics morning and afternoon, and I call at lunch. But when mom says “oh he’s kicking his feet, he must be hungry” or “I find that if I do x it works best” and these are tricks to my son that I don’t know, it’s excruciating. I have no wisdom — every family finds the way that works for them — but I’m out here fighting the same fight at the same time (well, 3 hours ahead of you). *hugs* to you, and much respect for doing all this with twice the baby joy waiting at home for you.

  20. 21

    Helen said,

    I absolutely understand. I dread the day that someone tells me one of the babies has done something/learnt something/accomplished something and I wasn’t there to see it. Just like you, I wish money would rain down, but while it doesn’t, I (like you) go to work and miss my babies.

  21. 22

    […] Superlative In All Things Moderation is for the uninspired. « Making light Other people write. I just steal. September 16, 2008 –A post by Uccelina on a feeling with which I am quite familiar. What he said: “We go through this every morning.” […]

  22. 23

    I second KS, except I say move to Pennsylvania. And get some sheep and alpacas and spin yarn. I would buy it from you!

  23. 24

    […] Part 1 with Mary Ann Rodman, Author of Jimmy’s Stars Saved by xXxduhxXx on Mon 17-11-2008 My heart’s not broken, but it is dented Saved by noelnita on Sun 16-11-2008 Having those in the buff chats Saved by shawofspades on Sat […]


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