Brutally Honest Monday:  In Which I Ask For Your Help

May 19, 2008

#Life#Brutally Honest Mondays

It’s a mixed blessing. I love my job. I love coding. I love being a nerd. I love being a mom (most days) and I love my kids. What a curse to have so many wonderful things in my life. I mean, really, who can complain when the sun is out, the house is clean, the clients are poring in and the work is wonderful?

Lemme try.

My daughter has anxiety. I don’t know what there is to be anxious about at three. My toys! My bed! MY HAIR. It’s everything: the panties that must be pink, the bed that has to be perfect, the barrette that has to be blue with a bow and on the left side. She’s high stress. She worries when I’m upstairs and she’s not. She freaks her shit out when I go lay her brother down in his crib because MommyICan’tSeeYou!! God forbid I need to poop.

So in her world the worst possible thing that can happen is for me to go to work. Of course, in my world, the worst possible thing to happen is trying to work from home with her there. Last time I checked I was the mom. I win, right? But leaving my daughter bawling and clinging asking me to just stay home does not feel like winning.

I explained that we want to buy a house with enough rooms for her to have her own. I asked what color she wanted it. “PINK!” Of course. I explained that some times she has to do things she doesn’t like because I’m trying to instill a sense of responsibility and understanding that life is not gimmegimme and taketaketake. There’s a lot of work in the blessings we have. We work for those. We save. We struggle. We scrimp. We enjoy. It’s not entitlement, it’s a living.

I understand she’s only three but I firmly believe my children need to learn these lessons early so they can wrap their tiny pre-pubesent minds around them in ten years. And again in twenty. And perhaps come to fully understand them in thirty years when their three year olds are crying because someone else got the pink balloon. Buck up, kid. Throw some dirt on it.

On the other hand, she’s traumatized easily. She has nightmares because they had butterflies at school. BUTTERFLIES people. What on earth is terrifying about a butterfly? It flies. It’s pretty. OHMYGOD it’s freaky.

Here’s my question, for Brutally Honest Monday, and I want your Brutally Honest Opinion (I expect nothing less here): WHAT DO I DO? She begs, cries, screams for me to not work. She offered to share her room with her brother forever if I promise to stay home. Those are powerful statements. She’s sad. She misses me. I’m doing what I can to balance it out: I work three days a week now. When she’s home I do my best to not be on the computer. I’m trying to work after she goes to bed and spend quality time with her. But still, there’s something heart wrenching about seeing her teary face as I leave her at home.

Then again, if she was in another country, another situation, another time, the answer would be “Sorry kid.” If I was a single parent there would be no question. If this were Africa, her life would be vastly different. But it’s not. And I’m not. And while the $30,000 deficit our house is worth today versus what we paid for it two years ago making it nearly impossible to sell and get in to a house we fit in is painful, it’s not the end of the world.

But damnit, I love my job. And I think I’m a better mom because of it. I wish she did.

** If you participate in your own Brutally Honest Post, let me know, ok? **

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  1. OY! What we Mom’s have to stuggle with.  I’ve been a WOHM from the word go so my kids are used to being away from me.  Even so they have had patches where they were super glued to my leg when I would drop them off at daycare.  Thus ending with both of us in tears.  This might sound cheesy but how about leaving something with her that reminds her of you?  Maybe a photo or something special you make together, a collage of photos of the two of you?  Good luck.

    By Jess on 2008 05 19

  2. I was a bit like that at that age. I was definitely a “sensitive” and “high-maintenance” child. And my mom WAS stay-at-home (of course, I had 2 brothers by 3 and 1/2 and a dad away in the Army). Do her teachers/daycare people think she’s ok? Does her doctor? How is she once you’ve left? I know it’s often a stage they go through but if the answer to all three of the above is “fine” then I think you are OK too!

    By BaltimoreGal on 2008 05 19

  3. Hmmm, can you work on the nights that you normally work for a couple of weeks and still get your work done? Did anything else change in the routine? Did something happen at school? FWIW we had butterflies here at home that hatched, and the “cage” looked like some sort of death match had occurred after they had hatched. I think it was their pee that was all red, but it really looked like blood. And they beat the crap out of each other until it warmed up enough to put them outside. So they can be scary. I don’t know what the solution is, I wish I did. Maybe wait for the market to settle down before selling the house? Still work because it is good for you, and maybe make a calendar to help her see what days are Momma days. Also saying things like “I need my big girl to help me with…” Maybe making her help out in a “big girl” way will help her feel more independant?

    By mommastantrum on 2008 05 19

  4. It is the age…my daughter went through a patch of not wanting to go to preschool because it was HORRIBLE and because SHE LOVED ME…it lasted about a month and then she was fine.

    We also knew that she was fine at school..happy as a clam.

    Hang in there.

    By crunchy carpets on 2008 05 19

  5. It is tough, I know, to see that pitiful, crying face. But she probably does fine once you are out the door. We have hysterical kindergarteners every year on the first day of school and, once the parents leave, they are fine! Be firm, tell her you love her, you will be back soon, and then leave. As long as you give in to her when she is crying, she will cry so you give in. It’s pretty simple. Advice from a mom of two grown-ups and one toddler grandson. Good luck!

    By Mrs. Who on 2008 05 19

  6. I don’t see what else you could do other than what you are doing!  I think everyone who reads this post sees what a good mom - 3 year olds, not so much in general.

    Hang in there.  I’ve got 4 and at least 2 were clingy….guilt-trippy.  As a matter of fact, you said about the butterflies - my almost 10 year old daughter has a bug thing and you would think the sky was falling even NOW if some creepy crawly (even a butterfly) is near her!

    By Amy J. on 2008 05 19

  7. Oh honey, I know. I have all the books - Helping Your Child With Anxiety. Your Anxious Child.

    I took her to a child counselor who played in the sand with her (she LOVED playing in the sand with that lady for a billion dollars an hour).

    I wish I had some brutally honest answers for you, but it seems so individual. I think no matter what decision you make, she’s always going to know that you love her. You love her so much that it’s breaking your heart trying to make the right decision. Everything else is periphery - more work, less work, school, siblings, whatever.

    And I always figure that no matter what I do, they’re going to need therapy anyway. May as well give them something to talk about during those long sessions.

    Love to you guys.

    By supermama on 2008 05 19

  8. It will pass, and then you will kinda miss it.

    Last year my kids were 4 and 3 years old and they would lay out in the middle of the sidewalk screaming crying for me not to leave them at Grandma’s house. Nowadays when I leave them there they could care less. Sometimes I can barely get a hug goodbye before they are off doing their own things at Grandma’s. Talk about growing up too fast! 

    Whatever you decide, she is resilient, she is not going to be scarred for life. (I am sure you probably know that, but thought I should remind you.)

    It will get better.

    PS. Our house is worth $100,000 less than we paid for it *sigh*

    By Paloma Lisa on 2008 05 19

  9. I was guilted leaving mine to go work at the library when he was 3 (a year ago)... and he was home with DADDY!

    I say don’t give in to the tears. I’m going through that now, leaving my son in child watch at the Y while I exercise. He cries on the drive there! I have a knot in my stomach while I work out! But I’m not giving in, and it’s getting better. I make sure he has something fun to look forward to afterward, too—something we’ll do together.

    Hang in there! LB will be fine!

    By Marie on 2008 05 19

  10. The never ending struggle.

    I don’t have a job and I feel like worthless suck a whole lot of the time (And a total sloth. When I am not accountable to anyone, I have a habit of curling up on my bed and not moving.)

    If I had the skills you do, I would probably be working at least part time.

    But…I do love all the time I have with my kids.

    I do agree with everyone and think that this is something that she will outgrow to a point. It isn’t like you are gone every day for hours and hours. I think you are doing your best, personally.

    By Loralee on 2008 05 19

  11. My kids are about the same ages as yours.  My oldest is a pretty anxious kid, too.  Generally, we tell her to suck it up.  We love you, we care about you, we understand this may be hard for you/scary/whatver, but suck it up and next time it won’t seem so bad.  So far, it’s worked.

    By heather on 2008 05 19

  12. My kids are the same.  I get to stay home with my kids (hooray!) and when I drop them at a sitter’s or the Y childcare the baby cries and my 3yo says that she doesn’t like it and “I don’t want you to *leave*me there, Mommy!”  They’re fine.  They have fun.  They still love me.

    By Erin on 2008 05 19

  13. Why oh why do children have to make it so darn hard? 

    I wouldn’t worry too much about teaching them about all of the work in the blessings.  She’ll learn ethics from her awesome mom just by example, I know.

    It’s so tough weighing the needs of your children with the needs for yourself.  We may be mothers but we’re still people too. 

    If working really helps you be everything you are, then I think stick to it.  Barring abusive parenting, I don’t think we can do anything to mess our kids up too bad.  It may be hard to adjust, but having a working mom will not be detrimental to her development.

    By Queen Shake Shake on 2008 05 19

  14. I so get this post.  There are many a times when I miss coding away in an office (on some recursive routine that will undoubtedly fail miserably) with my headphones on.

    Of course you know that this too shall pass but it’s just so hard to see that when you’re in it.  But I’ll say it again for effect, this too shall pass. smile

    By MamaGeek on 2008 05 19

  15. Pretty damn tough, ain’t it?  I think that it’s something she’ll outgrow… and I have no advice other than making another attempt to work from home. 

    Personally, though, I think you owe it to yourself to do something you enjoy, are good at, and that will benefit your family. 

    If that means that she’s going to have to “get over it” - well, brutally honest here?  She will.  Or she won’t.  But what good does it do YOU? 

    We are still women after we become mothers.  Something we forget too often.

    By Ree on 2008 05 19

  16. My 6yo Isa is also an anxious child.  I end up making a lot of “deals” to make her at ease.  “If you will sleep in your own bed all week, we will go to the zoo on Saturday.”  and then I make a big deal about how brave she’s been.  She’s also smart enough to know that she can play up her anxiety to get me to give in.  Sometimes I just have to be tough and make her be tough. 

    It’s not easy, is it?  Give yourself a break.  Play up the benefits of you working besides her getting her own room someday.  Maybe little immediate benefits like going out to get ice cream.  Scheduling time for just the two of you.

    You have probably tried all of this, but it will get easier once she gets through this phase.

    By Lex on 2008 05 19

  17. Yeah, what those smart people said above me.

    I know it’s heart wrenching hearing those kind of sobs, but she’ll learn and get through it. It’s the age, really. She’ll get through it (and you will too) smile

    By Bee Repartee on 2008 05 19

  18. Honestly,If you do only work three days a week. And the rest of the time your showing her attention (but also some for the boy of course), then your ok. If your not working ALL The time then it might actually be good for her to be away from you EVERY NOW AND THEN. If she can’t ever be away from you then how will she go to school? Your ok. Your a WONDERFUL mom, One of the best I have EVER known.
      THree days isn’t a lot. and you love your job. AND let me tell you that you loose your identity when your JUST a mom.
      Your ok sweetie. Your doing perfectly.

    By sister flinger on 2008 05 19

  19. She cries because she can.  When it was time for my youngest to go to pre-school he cried if my ex or my sister dropped him off, it got a reaction form them, it usualy got a prize of some sort promised after school or at the very least some one on one attention at that moment.  He never cried when I dropped him off, because that wasn’t an option.  I was called cold hearted, distant and some other not nice things by my ex (hence…..) but it worked.  There was no separation anxiety, no whining or fussing.  It was just put to him as a fact of life and thats that. You don’t need to over explain anything, actualy you don’t need to explain at all.  Mom is going to work, you are not.  You are (insert her job here).  Everybody has a job.  Soon her job will be to go to school, or to dance class or a playdate without you, or a sleepover, get it in check now, so YOU can enjoy those times as well as her.

    By Adrienne on 2008 05 19

  20. I agree with everyone else.  It’s the age.  My four year old is going through the same thing, and my mom (who babysits while I work) delights in telling me how he stares out the window and painfully sighs and says “I miss my mommy.”

    Than again, he did that yesterday in front of me.  But replace “mommy” with “ice cream truck guy.”

    I don’t feel so bad anymore.

    Drama, drama, drama…

    You’d be sad without it:)

    By Summer on 2008 05 19