So, it has begun. The school year, that is. As all of you, I’m a working teacher momma like Tracy, and every August, I hit the books, write some lesson plans, welcome incoming freshmen, and start the year. Last year was my first year as a working momma, and well, I survived. This year, despite the fact that I’m not changing anything like I had hoped I would, I really want to do more than survive. I want to want to be there. So even through the tears I had over the fact that I wouldn’t get up every morning, snuggle on the couch with my little guy and watch Bubble Guppies, I put a smile on my face and went back to work this week.
And it happened. Just like I knew it would. My son changed.
Now we’ve discussed how children of working mothers can become more independent, but what about when they become dependent? As in, when I’m gone, he’s fine but when I come back, he wants to be attached to me?
When I’m not working, my son definitely has his clingy moments. But for the most part, since he’s getting a lot more attention from me, he’s less whiney. In addition, his schedule and routine is rigid. When he was an infant, I wrote down what he ate and when he ate to keep him on a strict schedule and get him used to mealtimes and the difference between day and night. Into toddlerhood, he has his naps at the same time of day, his bath the same time every night, and sure, some days we have outings but for the most part, it’s consistency. As a teacher, I know children thrive on consistency.
Well, when I’m working, there’s less consistency, yes? Because some days Mommy picks me up. Some days Daddy picks me up. Some days Abuela needs to take me in the car to drive Abuelo to work, but some days she doesn’t. Sometimes Abuela goes on vacation and someone else has to watch me. Two days of the week I get to sleep in and wake up to Mommy’s face. But five days of the week I might wake up in my car seat or at Abuela’s house or in the moving car and way too early. And sometimes, I wake up and Mommy and Daddy aren’t there.
I know he’ll settle into the routine after we get a few more weeks into school, but now that he’s older, he knows I’m gone. He starts calling, “Mommy, Mommy” around 2:00 p.m. every day (according to my mother-in-law). This used to be the best part of my day because I wanted to know he remembered and missed me and that he would run to me when I came through the door. But now it’s sad because it means he realizes I left but doesn’t know why.
When I pick him up after work, he’s not like he is on the weekends. Sometimes he hasn’t napped. Or sometimes he naps too little or too late in the morning, skips the afternoon nap and has a meltdown at dinner. Sometimes he clings to my side or pulls my shirt or pants when my husband tries to hug me because he’s jealous and desperately wants my time.
I guess in a lot of ways, he’s like me. I’m more relaxed in the summer or on my vacation days. I mean, who isn’t? It’s vacation for crying out loud. He’s more relaxed when he’s in his own environment, with the people he knows best. I know it’ll get better, but I find myself every once in a while saying, “I want Weekend William and not Weekday William” because Saturday and Sunday William is so much sweeter, so much easier to please, so less whiney.
But we’ll get through it, right?