Looking Back through the Office Window
Yesterday, my husband left for work early in the morning. It wasn’t entirely unusual, except I dressed our 6 week old twins in “special clothes” after I nursed them, and we saw Daddy off. I cried, overwhelmed at what I would do after having had his untiring help at home for an extended period of time. “I can do this,” I thought, “Surely, I can do this.” And then I squalled some more.
But that wasn’t really yesterday. It just seems like it, and tomorrow I return to my career after a 5 year hiatus. But when I think about them laying on that blanket in the den and me crying, it does seem like only moments ago…and I just cannot believe that time has somehow moved at warp speed.
I’ve had an extreme amount of guilt. I am an uber-perfectionist, OCD, and have a Cancer Zodiac sign, so I want a measurable amount of success on my time home with my kids. Somehow, as I have tried to mentally prepare myself for tomorrow and the weeks ahead, I have felt that I missed something, or failed to do something.
And then I think about all of the moments I have had with these children, grocery trips, hiking, shopping, playing, crafting, crying….laughing. I think about times when they were sick and I would spend the days making them comfortable or accommodating whatever they might have needed. I beat myself up a bit for the days when I was preoccupied with housework or volunteer work or other “pressing” things, but even on those days I was just a “MOMMMMMMMYYYYYY!“ away, and, on those days they learned some independence. I’ve managed to prepare them scholastically for Kindergarten (although we’ve yet to see how they do socially after I peel them from beneath their smothered spots under each wing).
I think about everything, all of the moments, and I look at these happy and healthy children and I see myself, having sacrificed nothing, and having all of those moments to carry with me forever – even if it involved sobbing on the floor of my den. And I realize that morning in the den seems like a lifetime ago, and I can barely recall how small they were and all their little baby things. But I remember enough, and I am ever so thankful I had the time to devote to them (THANK YOU, ADAM!).
I am going to try to always remember that all of these moments, including the ones right now will soon seem like a lifetime has passed us by, and, yet, will somehow seem like they just happened. I used to hate that ubiquitous advice: “Enjoy it! They grow so fast.” And, now, I will shamelessly say to any mommy reading this: savor it….this moment will never, ever happen again.
Christa Landingham and her husband are Madison County natives and life-long residents. They have boy/girl twins and two crazy puppers. She loves all things teaching, organizing, and supporting local small businesses. In her “free-time” she loves to garden, travel with her family, volunteer, and comb local thrift stores. Pearl Jam is her jam.
Nice piece. We have one starting kindergarten this year – I am thankful our other is 2. Thankful because its going to be tough ‘ending an era’ when they are both spending their days at school. I try to remember to ‘savor the moments’, and I also think about the moments that they will look back on as highlights from their childhood. I am hoping thrift store visits and food art will be right up there with Disney World. Enjoy the next venture.
Thanks Andy! Glad to know you guys love the thrift finds like us!
I loved this! I literally just teared up because I’ve been tirelessly defending my decision to be a SAHM with the intention of going back to work at some point when I’m done with the babymaking. Awesome!
Thanks Diana. I admit, I struggled during my time at home – not only with people’s lack of understanding about my decision to be home, but with feeling alone and as if I was not contributing to my household and society (ridiculous, I know now….but I felt very sad). I always placed a lot of importance on my career, and, when I had kids, I really put that on the backburner to give them everything. Somehow, though, I beat myself up at home as well…I wasn’t being attentive enough, enriching enough, wife enough. I never achieved clean kids, clean house, prepared dinner. Someone was always sick or a dog would get ill or something ridiculous would happen that required a half day of errands. I swore off Fridays, because they became the day someone would wake up with pink eye or we’d have a house issue or something would fall apart. As my return to work approached, I started feeling more and more fulfilled in what I’d done. I began to realize that all of the personal/career/financial sacrifices I’d made (and trust me, I made a huge career sacrifice that may stick with me forever) were absolutely 100% worth it. It has given me a new perspective on my return and how I will learn to balance work (me and daddy), school (kids), ballet, soccer, music, grocery shopping, bill paying, house cleaning, meal preparations, etc….etc….etc. I realize my personal validation is in my heart…I have never compromised what I felt was best for myself and my children and spouse. I think that can be different for every family. So far, my choices have been the best for US. When you feel alone, remember there are other moms out there doing what you are doing….and, while I understand it becomes almost impossible to reach out, do it. I wish I’d done more play groups and such, but twins really threw a wrench in those plans. Like I said, we’d have a lot of back to back illnesses and things which simply insulated us. We had to really lock down our spending. My husband is a teacher, so we just had to do without most of the time. But we never, ever sacrificed love or togetherness, and, what I have learned most of all from all of this is that all I ever need to be happy in this life is just that….with my family. Nothing else will every fulfill me the way they do.
Though I am not starting back to work anytime soon, my oldest starts kindergarten this year too. And my baby turns one soon after. Time is passing by all too quickly for me with these little ones. Ahhh!
As a teacher, I’ve always felt that I get the best of both worlds. Working mom part of the year, SAHM mom during the summer. At the end of every summer, I go through a period of mourning, even as I’m trying to soak up every second we have left together.
I took this past year off to stay home, always with the intention to go back to teaching this school year. I am so thankful for this past year. I felt more balanced–pulled in 100 directions instead of 1,000. My sabbatical is over in less than two weeks, and though I love teaching and truly look forward to having a classroom of students again, I am going through an even deeper mourning than usual.
I just looked at my boys at lunch today and thought, “I am going to MISS them.”
My hubby teaches. He LOVES having Summers with the kids, and, now that I have returned to work, I love it, because childcare is not an issue 🙂 Enjoy returning! Glad you got to have some time at home!
Christa, I am blubbering like an idiot….the tears are flowing freely. I remember your first day of school and YES…it was yesterday. I wanted to grab you and hurry back home with you…at that point in my life, driving away from that school was the hardest thing I had ever done. AND, I drove back to that parking lot six times that day and thought I would die of a broken heart. I Love You just as much today or more if that is even possible. I am sooooooooo very proud of you. You are an EXCELLENT Mommy!!!!!!
This was absolutely the most beautiful thing that I have ever read. I don’t have twins but Phillip will be 18 years old next month, and my beautiful daughter Jessica will be 16 years old in December. And yes they grow up too fast. I am so proud of you girl. You are a wonderful mommy. Keep up the good work. You will be as proud of your babies when they grow up, as your mom is of you.
Heather….You are Precious!!!
Loved your article! And your mom’s comment! I’m still a SAHM and mine are about to be in 7th and 5th. I’m never home though! Haha! Volunteering at their school has been great and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to do it! I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Go team MOM!
Loved reading this. My son is no where near school age, as he is only 2, but I am a SAHM and have really been contemplating the idea of going back to work. Especially since I’d like for him to start preschool next year.
Loved reading this!!
It’s hard going back to work no matter the age of your kids. I had to work when my 1st was born and it was no easy task leaving her at daycare when she was 6 weeks old, thankfully later I was able to stay home with my younger kids, and toy with going back to work often now, but I think i’ll wait until my youngest is in Kindergarden!
I just left my teaching career in April (16 years) and am FINALLY a stay at home mom. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I was grateful for my summers at home, but I was heartbroken every August. I knew in my heart it wasn’t what I was intended to do. I happen to be doing it backwards. My youngest will start Kindergarten this year. I am told by many that my 6th grader will need me know more than ever. I can’t wait for opportunities to volunteer in their schools and really focus on being a mom and wife. I loved my job and I don’t regret the time I spent working, but I feel so freed by our decision to downsize so I could stay home.
Such a touching story. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Sniff, sniff…
LOVED THIS PIECE!! One of the best I have read, as were the wonderful supportive comments!
Thank you all for taking time to read and post!
Great piece! I am a SAHM that often struggles with the thought that I am not contributing to the household. However, my husband supports me being a SAHM and is good to remind me that I do help beyond more than a “job.” My son is 18 months… it seems as if the day he starts kindergarten is decades away…I know time will fly.