"Does Edith have a brother that comes here? You threw me because you don't come in very often with them, it's usually their dad, so I didn't recognize you. There's another mom here that throws me off, too." - administrative assistant at our pediatrician's office*
Her words stung in the same way that paper cut I didn't know about burned as I washed my hands this morning.
You don't come in very often with them.
It was a stark reminder of how much I miss by being the working parent. Not to mention the fact that so few moms are as seemingly uninvolved as me that she could recount a single other soul that tricked her the way I had.
She didn't say anything I haven't thought, though. The well visits I'm noticeably absent from. The sick babies who cling to me as I try to make as graceful an exit as possible, all while fighting back tears because I want to hold you all day, too. The time I spend staring longingly at my computer screensaver and texting Jon, begging him to send me a new picture because I miss them extra that day. Sometimes being the working parent really sucks.
Don't get me wrong. Right now it's necessary. And truthfully, even if it wasn't, I don't know that I would give it up. Work is so rewarding. I am continually being challenged and growing in ways I wouldn't have dreamt of five and a half years ago as I stepped into my first 'big girl' job. I have value. I am contributing. I am not horrible at what I do. My work puts our family in a position where we don't have to worry about whether we will eat this week or how we will pay our bills. If a car breaks down it is not a catastrophic blow that jeopardizes our livelihood. And the best part is our kids get to be with Jon. He is so involved with them--constantly challenging them, taking them on adventures, and modeling the way a man should behave and treat others. They love him, I love that he gets to experience this, and given our backgrounds he would simply be unable to provide for our family in the way I can right now. This is no fault of his, and really, no fault at all. Jon's contributions to our family are worth infinitely more than my paycheck. He picks up more slack than I care to admit on any given day after having already 'worked' 9+ hours with two very demanding clients. This arrangement works for us.
But it's not without the guilt. The way my heart feels like it's being trampled when Elden begs, "Mommy, don't go to work. Stay with me forever." The milestones I've missed and heard about secondhand. The stats and mom groups and story times and injuries and everything between.
I have had to sacrifice so much to provide for my family. There are days where I am relieved to be getting a break by going to work, but there are also days where I would give anything to have even just half an hour longer with my kids. And sometimes even the most simple comments are enough to make my head spin.
*I know she didn't mean anything by her comment at all, my response to this was simply all the things I felt in the moment. We love our pediatrician's office so much (seriously a big part of why we moved to where we did was because it was only half an hour away and we could continue to go there)