You're a working mom. It's what you've always known. So, why is it still so hard to leave your kids for a date night? Why can't you enjoy a night out?

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

I worked up until the day I was induced with my first child. It was 10 days past my expected due date. Every day that I walked through the door at work, my co-workers were surprised. I’m not sure if it was because I remained pregnant or if it was because I was still going to work. Either way, I told them I wanted every day of my maternity leave to be with my new baby, not wanting a day of it to be waiting for her to be born.

Twelve weeks after my daughter’s birth I returned to work. Many women told me they were surprised to see me back. They said they thought I would enjoy motherhood too much to return. This is confusing when you consider that the implication is that I must love my child less because I’m a working mom. I know that’s not what they really intended to be saying. They were working moms themselves, after all. I let that roll off, believing they meant well. I found a new normal as a new mom. Not just as a mom, but a working mom who was away from my baby for several hours at a time, five days a week. It never got easy. But…

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

I got pregnant a second time and I went into labor while I was at work with my second child. I left work early and my baby was born a few hours later.

I, again, went back to work 12 weeks after my daughter’s birth. Women said, again, they were surprised to see me return to work. What is curious about this is that no one is ever surprised that a father is keeping his job after a child is born. What is really confusing, though, is that if I had to work to support my family with only one child, why on Earth would I not need to work when I now had double the mouths to feed? I found a new normal as a mom of two. Not just a mom, but a working mom who was trying to juggle the time after work and on weekends with both of my children. It never got easy. But…

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

So, I became frustrated last weekend when I began to struggle with the fact that my children were staying overnight with their grandparents. I began having anxiety because I was going to be away from them for a day and a half. And I knew I was going to miss them like crazy.

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s a part of who I am.

So, why is it still so hard to leave them when I’ve been doing this five days a week since they were 12 weeks old?

My husband had planned a fantastic date night. A matinee show at the symphony and then dinner and drinks afterward. Then back home where we would have the house to ourselves and be able to turn the TV up as loud as we want and have an uninterrupted night of sleep. This sounds sweet and wonderful and perfect. But, yet, I was struggling with leaving my children. I began to attempt to cram all of the activities I would normally do in the two day weekend into one day. There was playing in the snow, a snow flake craft, hot cocoa. Dress-up, puzzles, board games. And since I was unable to send my daughter to preschool this year (because I’m a working mom) we also had our letter Q activities to finish for the week. We had a lot of fun but I also noticed I had begun to get short and cranky with everyone because it was getting hard to fit two days into one day.

I suppose I was having this internal struggle because my time with my girls is just so short already. It’s not that I feel guilty for working. In part, I need to work but I also want to work so I can continue my career as a nurse. I know that is what’s right for my family. I don’t feel guilty for going out on a date either. Whether your days are spent at work or home, we all need time with just our spouse, our friends, ourselves. There’s no question about this.

I think the part that’s frustrating is that I expect an evening out to be easy on me since I’m so used to saying goodbye to my girls. After all, I say goodbye to them most mornings when I leave for work. But there is often a specific reason to go out. A success at work to celebrate, a birthday, a friend needing support. But this time. This time, there was no specific reason. Just a date. An opportunity to have adult conversation without cleaning up spilled milk. A chance to call one another by our birth names and not mommy and daddy.

But I still struggle. I struggle with leaving them for yet another time. I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to cram all our activities into one day. I wish I didn’t start to have anxiety in the middle of our board game. But I do. Maybe some day I will master the art of balance. Or invent a machine that allows me to be in three places at once.

Whether I find balance or that machine, I know sometimes I’m going to struggle. Whether it’s a morning when a child is clinging to my leg, telling me she doesn’t want me to leave for work. Whether it’s while I’m standing in a never-ending line at the grocery, knowing my toddler is waking up from her nap and will be looking for me. Whether it’s going out of town for a week long trip with no kids to celebrate an anniversary. Or if it’s just a date to the symphony. I’m going to struggle. I’m a mom. And my heart and mind are with my kids, always wanting to do best for them.

The kids were so excited when I told them they were going to their grandparents they asked to leave early. And once we were out on our date, my struggle with going out and my anxiety totally evaporated. Because I know, without a doubt, motherhood and work are only a part of me. And the other things that my family and I do are a part of who we are too and what is best for us.

I’m a working mom. It’s what I’ve always known. It’s just a part of who I am.

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