Prelude: For those who don’t know me, I am a woman who established a career and then decided to have kids late in life at 36. I now have two children under the age of 4 and have been a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born. I am now returning to the workforce and this is my quandary.
Last night was not a good night. I cried for half the night. It was the eve of my last day raising the kids as a stay-at-home mom. The nanny comes tomorrow to be trained for the rest of the week and I start working again full-time next week. Am I doing the right thing? Are my kids going to handle it well? A million thoughts and questions plagued me.
This morning was an entirely different story. It was not a special morning comprised of me and the kids savoring our last weekday alone together. It was like every other morning I’ve had for the last few months. It starts as soon as my husband leaves for work. The kids both start whining, crying and fighting. I can not sit my daughter down for a single minute without her throwing a fit. If I leave her sight (to throw away a dirty diaper, go to the restroom, etc) she totally freaks and won’t stop screaming until I pick her up again. I’ve been working on techniques to make her a little more independent, to no avail. My son, who is totally independent, has an entirely different set of triggers to drive me nuts. Every time he goes to the restroom or leaves my sight, he takes off all his clothes. He goes into the restroom to “tinkle” and 2 minutes later comes out completely naked. This happens several times a day and he gets punished every time but he simply doesn’t care. He also has to touch everything. He walks from the office to the kitchen and along the way he pulls down the pillows off the couches, kicks toys into the middle of the floor, grabs everything within his reach and moves it somewhere else. He constantly fights with his baby sister and won’t leave her alone. He steals EVERY toy she picks up, intentionally blocks her path when she is crawling or walking somewhere, grabs her and tries to pull her around, etc. I literally put him in time out 3-4 times a day. I used to spank him but that was even less effective than time out.
The truth is, I just no longer have the patience nor energy left to deal with two small children alone. I feel horribly guilty about going back to work, but I am not doing any of us any good this way. I feel like I am constantly yelling and that’s not healthy. My past goal was to always keep the kids active to help them expend energy and keep engaged, but now I am so worn out from carting the kids back and forth to two activities, classes, or playdates per day I just can’t do it anymore. I’m also a little bitter because I can’t help but feel if I had just had a little more help then I wouldn’t have gotten so burnt out. Raising kids under the age of 5 is so demanding and expensive. A normal night out to the movies suddenly becomes encrusted in gold by the time you pay for a sitter. When you don’t have a family support unit to help, hiring a sitter every time you need to go to the doctor, dentist or get your hair done starts to outweigh the need of hiring one for date night. Sure, the older the kids get, the easier it gets, but those first few years are exhausting and frustrating.
Even as I write this post while my daughter is napping and my son was watching TV for my 30 minutes per day sanity check…I turn around and see him coming down the stairs, and he is naked again (for the second time today and it’s not even noon). Sigh.
So yeah, I feel rotten, and I feel torn, but try not to judge me too harshly without walking a day in my shoes. I know there is an unspoken code in the SAHM world that says, “Don’t break rank and file no matter how hard it gets!” But I’m afraid I have reached my breaking point.