As a full-time working mother, I have to say goodbye to my daughter every Monday through Friday. It often feels as though I leave a little piece of me behind.
I don’t know when it started, maybe it was the day I found out I was expecting a baby. I was elated; my dream from a very young age was to be a mummy. It was overwhelming to know that this was finally on its way to becoming a reality.
Fast forward 9 months on to the birth of my daughter. The bond between us was so strong right from the very moment she came out of me and was placed hurriedly on my chest to meet the mummy she’d already been communicating with for the best part of the last 9 months. We were inseparable from that point onwards although it’s fair to say that it wasn’t always my choice. She had to be by me at every moment, in my embrace, asleep or wide awake, whether I wanted to hold her or not. I perfected the art of eating, going to the loo, and doing chores while holding her.
There was a short period where I felt suffocated. I didn’t have a lot of my family or friends around me and was desperate for some alone time for short periods during the daytime; to be able to take deep breaths and remember that I wasn’t just a mummy, I was also a person that needed some adult stimulation, a shower, even a bite to eat on my own! I felt a little like I was losing my mind as my ability to hold adult conversations vanished and every second word related to my day with Pumpkinella. Time flew by during my maternity leave and as a result of buying a house riddled with cleverly hidden problems, all now visible and no longer possible to ignore; my husband and I could no longer afford for me to not work. Eight months of maternity leave suddenly felt squeezed into what seemed like eight minutes and I panicked wondering how I would cope. I spent the first week back in work crying in the lavatories, missing my baby. I would express milk for her but she wouldn’t always take it. She much preferred to be breastfed so she could be close to her mummy. She’d have hunger strikes during in the day in anticipation of my return. Tiny pieces of my heart seemingly broke away with each day but over the course of 3-4 months things slowly became more and more bearable. We both started to come to terms with things a little more and treasured our time together at the end of each day.
At nearly 2 years old now, my daughter is such a blessing to mine and my husband’s lives. She’s our little piece of heaven. It’s still difficult for me to say goodbye each morning and I wonder sometimes how she feels about me leaving her all the time, whether it hurts her or it’s enough to know I always come back.
If she minded and could express this to me, I would tell her I never want to go to work and leave her; I always want to stay, watch her play, laugh, even cry. I wonder how she’s doing every single day while I’m away. I know she’s well looked after by her loving grandparents but I feel as though I’ve neglected my responsibilities as a mummy by leaving her for up to 10 hours of every active, happy, playful day.
Now in truth, it’s important to note I also feel that it’s right to provide for the needs of my family by working and earning an income. I am securing my daughter’s future by providing for all her needs now and in the future.
I tell myself she’ll thank me for all this when she’s grown up; she’ll see her mother also as her role model.
But it still hurts, every…single…day. I miss her smile, her frown, her giggle and even her groans.
She’s made me feel that God placed me on this Earth especially to love her.
Who knows whether the pain and guilt will ever subside.
I just do the best I can each and every day and hope that I’m doing what’s best for her and my husband, and that she will be grateful for it when she comes to the point where she has to make similar decisions in her adult life.
This was meant for my personal journal, I rarely ever make any of it public but my hope is that it can encourage even one person and make tomorrow ever so slightly easier to bear and less guilt-ridden; you’re not in this alone and it does get better.