by Mommy On, a blog by Jill S. Litwin
Mondays are difficult. After two days off, it’s time to turn back on – to plan lessons, answer emails and grade papers. But for me, it’s not going to work that I dread, but rather leaving my toddler.
And when you’ve had a full week off for Thanksgiving, the morning back is extra dreadful. Somewhere deep inside, there must exist a small percentage of myself that’s masochistic. Why else would I indulge in responses to a woman who posted on line asking for advice on whether she should teach or stay home? There was pretty much consensus:
“There’ll always be children in a classroom, but you’ll never get this time back with your little one.”
I’m not sure why I kept reading. Maybe I was hoping the tune would change. That after 33 comments encouraging the original poster to be with her baby, someone would say something that’d be the catalyst for others to shift gears. Perhaps something like:
“There have been studies showing that kids who attend daycare or have nannies when they’re infants or toddlers grow up happier and more well-adjusted.”
The writer would provide not just one, but numerous links to different studies – carried out by Harvard and the American Academy of Pediatrics – undeniable sources – showcasing the findings. Inspired by the incredulous data, housewives would begin canvassing for jobs, soliciting for daycares. The teacher moms would dry their eyes, confident their kids were in the best hands, and that the future benefits for their children far outweigh the drawbacks of their missing out on infancy and/or toddlerhood.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead, I felt sick and couldn’t fall asleep, smothered with sadness over not having the stay home option, and fantasizing a different life, perhaps with my long lost boyfriend. I texted my sister:
“I should’ve married Daniel. Then I would just raise kids and go on vacations.”
To which she responded:
“How can you wish for anything other than what you have? You got such an amazing kid. Most are not like her.”
And I couldn’t argue. While I realize she’s not perfect, I’m also well aware I got a good one. As a rule, she’s not whiny or tantrumy. She has opinions, but she’s reasonable. And she always, always gets the joke.
One time, she was asked how many of something she wanted. Her response:
“Two.” And then a beat. “Too much!”
She astounds me daily with her connections. Lately, she’s obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. Also lately, we’ve been reading books about Hanukkah and how latkes are fried. When she hears the term oil, she responds, “Like the Tin Man.”
And she unequivocally expresses affection.
When I walk through the door after work, she comes running, unable to contain her excitement. She screams:
“Mommy! I so happy to see you!”
And so, while I will always believe that, like stunt people receive hazard pay, working parents of very young children should receive somber pay in exchange for the deluge of daily emotions, I also think that my girl, born at 4:21 on 4/21, was exactly meant to be.
My dad marvels at the way the stars aligned in order for me to end up with Autumn specifically. I had to be unmarried, and I had to be older. And then I question him:
“Doesn’t it take certain genetic material combining at an exact moment to produce each and every one of us?”
Destined for existence, that makes us all pretty miraculous.
I laugh at this thought, as the circles under my eyes darken daily, and gray hairs and wrinkles become more prominent. And then I watch Autumn, donning pigtails and shades and a shirt that reads living my best life. She sips her hot cocoa, turns to me and says: