I love my job.
But, some mornings, I feel like I’m making a choice and it isn’t an easy one. Every single working parent alive has felt this way, so I know that I’m not alone. But that doesn’t make it sting any less.
Normally, when I drop my kids off at school, they both give me love and then go on about their morning. Playing with their friends or eating breakfast, not even noticing when I slip away.
That was not the case this morning.
Walking in, I had Evie on my hip and Lee’s hand in mine. We got to the main room of the daycare, where Lee typically drops my hand and takes off, but he didn’t do that this morning. He tugged on my hand so I crouched down to hear him better and he was saying, “I wanna go to work with you Momma. I’m gonna come with you.”
I told him I would be right back and went to put Evie in a high chair so that she could start working on breakfast, but she held on to me tight. She had one hand behind my neck and the other was holding the collar of my shirt. She wasn’t letting go. “Evie, baby, you have to let go,” I said soothingly to her as she burst into tears.
So, there I was, cross-legged on the floor of daycare with Evie standing between my legs, hands still clutching me. Thinking I could diffuse the situation, I started tickling her little neck with kisses. She giggled, tears still coming down her chubby cheeks, but never loosened her grip.
She’s only done this to me once before.
The Director, who is one of Evie’s favorite people, came over to help. She picked her up and brought her around the corner (where she couldn’t see me) and sang to her while bouncing her. I could hear giggles.
I rounded the corner of the long table where a few older kids were seated eating breakfast and my eyes met Lee’s. He was standing at the edge of the carpet in front of a mound of blocks, his eyes fixed on me. “Hey baby man, can I have some love?” I asked him, hitting my knees in front of him.
And. He. Burst. Into. Tears.
He wrapped his arms around me and I squeezed him hard. He wiped his face off on my shoulder and said, “Okay.” I stood up, told him I loved him, and headed for the door.
He was at my ankles in seconds, saying he didn’t get enough love. I crouched down again, hugged him tight (on both sides) and gave him a kiss. “You have to be a big boy Lee, I love you. I’ll see you this afternoon. Why don’t you go play blocks with your friends?”
“Okay, love you too,” he said as he walked back towards the carpet where his friends were waiting on him, wiping away tears with the backs of his hands.
Once out the door, I did something that I don’t typically do, I stopped and looked back into the daycare through the big front window.
Lee was standing there watching me.
He raised a hand and waved. I blew him a kiss and then he blew me one back. With my hands, I drew a heart in the air and then pointed at him. He grinned from ear to ear, then turned around and walked away from the window.
Once in my car, I started crying. And continued crying for longer than I’d care to admit.
I’m not quite sure what got into my babies this morning. Lee did the same thing to D that he did to me when he was trying to leave the house. He was standing at the door, his face pressed against the glass pane, crying.
D came back inside at least twice more to comfort him.
Next time we all might just have to play hookey… hope your morning was easier than ours!