Sunday, March 30th, 2014...12:48 pm

Holding It In

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As I slowly close down my old blog, I’ll be resposting my favorite posts here. I’m ready to let my old blog go for many reasons, but there are so many words that I want to hold on to. The first one I’ll repost is  one that, for me, perfectly captures one of the truths I’ve learned as a working mom. Sometimes you can hold it in. Sometimes you can’t.


I held it in until I couldn’t anymore. Until I sat in my classroom, facing my computer screen, hoping that the students wouldn’t notice that my eyes were heavy with tears, that they were willing themselves out and I was doing all I could to will them back in. I held them back, let the pools sit just ready to pour over, just seeping over the edges of eyelids and lashes. They stayed put. They never managed to fully escape.

At 4:30 this morning Miles started to cry in pain or discomfort or loneliness or whatever makes a baby cry out and insist on only sleeping on his mama. He needed me. And I let him sleep on me for almost two hours until I crawled back into bed only to fall asleep ten minutes before my alarm went off. I walked through my day almost zombie-like, except I had to be a zombie who solved problems, who had intelligent discourse about teaching philosophy, who interviewed new candidates for jobs, who tried to solve problems that had everyone abuzz, problems that seemed so important, so worth storming in to the office about. Until the phone rang.

He’s been asleep for almost four hours, the director told me. Should they wake him? she asked.

Yes wake him. He’s tired. He woke up at 4:30. He has a bad cold. He’s getting his molars. Thank you for calling. Thank you for caring that I’m his mom and believing I  know him best.

The teachers, my colleagues, were still buzzing about the other problem. The problem that I had stormed around about, that I had tried to “fix,” the problem that suddenly didn’t matter to me anymore, sort of. At least not right then.

Four hours? What was wrong? Was he sick? Was the medicine from the doctor yesterday doing strange things to him? Was he just tired? I was tired.

I let fifteen minutes pass before I called the daycare back. In those fifteen minutes I felt that horrifying sense of helplessness that sometimes accosts me as a working mom. The sense that I want to be the one to walk over to his crib, to gently kiss his cheek, to rub his head as I wake him from his deep sleep. The unfairness of that moment when I can picture his teacher seeing his confusion, wiping his tears, glimpsing his chubby belly as he gets a diaper change. The pain of not being there in that one moment for that one task.

I called the daycare back and he was fine, eating his lunch and sounding happy in the background. Sounding so close. Feeling so far away. He was fine but the tears came anyway, rose to the surface despite my knowing that there was nothing I could do, that there was no sense in worrying. But I hate that feeling. I hate wanting to help and not being able to, wanting to snuggle my baby but being stuck somewhere else.

If you’re a working mom,  you know. You know that phone calls from daycare are a blessing and a curse.


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