Sunday, March 20, 2011

the giant elephant in the room.

warning: long, rambly, slightly emotional post ahead...

i've mentioned it here and there in passing, but i haven't talked much about it in detail because truthfully, i don't want to think about it in detail. but i've got to bite the bullet and get on with it, because ready or not, it's happening.

yes, it's true, my friends, i am heading back to work this week.


how is it that fourteen weeks can drag on forever when you're waiting for something (you know, like going to pick up your son in korea...), but it goes lightning fast when you're not looking forward to something?? the mysteries of life, my friends.

so, yes. on wednesday, i'll be returning to work.

and i'm having all sorts of crazy mixed feelings about it.

i LOVE my job. so much so that i don't consider it a job but really, a calling. something i was meant to do. i know, i know, cue cheesy music and eye rolling. but seriously, i can't imagine doing anything else. except maybe being on "sesame street" -- how fun would that be?!

i love my school and i love my colleagues and i'm looking forward to connecting with them again. i'm looking forward to recharging and using my teacher-brain and i'm excited to work with my students again.


and this is a big but.

sorry if i got wreckx-n-effect stuck in anyone else's head...;)

i am so worried for this little guy.
photo courtsey of my pal, sandra, from our latest trip to the farm!

these first three months together have gone so unbelieveably well. we've found our new groove as a family of three and have settled into our new normal.

and now, we're throwing a monkey wrench into our happy little routine.

choi boy and i enjoy our mornings together (well, i know that at least i do...) -- we enjoy our slow wake-ups and easing into the day (which may or may not mean we're sometimes in our pajamas until 11). we love meeting up for playdates or running errands pre-nap. and most of all, i love being there to witness all of choi boy's silly antics as well as some of his firsts.

i love sharing random moments like this during our mornings:

with me returning to work, we'll lose those mornings. but, that's not what i'm most concerned about. because i'll be back after a few short hours, and we'll have the afternoons and weekends and school breaks together.

what i'm most concerned about choi boy's processing of this new transition. he has attached really well and it is clear that he knows that we are his parents. he trusts us and knows us and i do believe he loves us. but, i'm not sure how his little mind will initially process what's going on.

choi boy will be attending a home daycare run by the parent of a former student. she is wonderful and we are so happy with our decision to have her care for cb. cb will be one of four children in her care. she provides a very nurturing, educational environment for the kids and also gives them delicious home-cooked meals. (serious holla on that one!)

we did a practice run at daycare this week. i talked to cb about it a lot, but of course, he could only understand so much, if anything at all. i stayed with choi boy the first two days. on the third and fourth day, i stayed for a bit and then left for an hour or two. our childcare provider said that on the first day i left, cb was fine for the first 45 minutes and then when he realized i still hadn't returned, he cried and started looking for me and the hubs. when i got back, he was sitting by himself, hugging mini and listlessly playing with a toy. (he didn't want to play with the other kids or be held by the childcare provider) i called his name and when he saw me, he looked up and burst into tears.

um. my heart was pretty much ripped out of my chest and broken into a million pieces right then and there. i really had to hold it together so i wouldn't lose it and burst into tears myself.

choi boy clung to me and didn't want me to put him down for a good 10 minutes. then it was lunch time, and you all know how my little boy responds to food. he sat and ate and then played for a little longer before left for the day. and he left giving hugs and blowing kisses -- maybe out of relief?! ;)

i was so worried that the next day he'd freak out as soon as we pulled in. but he didn't. he walked up, gave hugs and hellos and settled in to play. i stayed for a bit again and then left. and i could hear him crying as i walked away. whatever was left of my heart from the previous day was shattered again.

when i came back, there weren't any tears, but choi boy definitely wanted to be held and hugged and of course, i was only happy to do so again. lunch time revived his spirits again ;), and he left again on a happy note.

i know it might sound melodramatic, but truly, i worry so much because the last time cb played with some strangers and spent time with them apart from the people he knew, it was *us* and we took him from the only family he knew. so i fear that choi boy will feel like we are abandoning him and leaving him with a new family. and the possibility that he might feel that way just crushes my heart even further.

the hubs is off on mondays, so cb won't be back at daycare again until tuesday for a final "practice" day before i'm officially back to work on wednesday. and i am praying, praying, praying for God's grace upon our transition and that cb will begin to fully understand and trust that i will be back to pick him up each day so that he'll be able to relax and enjoy his time at daycare.

ultimately, i think it will be good for both choi boy and me -- he'll get some great time socializing with other children and i'll have some me-time to recharge before getting back into mommy-mode.

but, for right now, i'm just thinking about getting through this first week.

i may be wearing sunglasses at school all week to hide my puffy, swollen-from-sobbing eyes.


and now it's time for a cute cb picture so this post doesn't end on sad, sad note.
*double sigh*.

love him.


  1. Oh, Grace... I wish I could say I'd been there and it'll all be ok, but I haven't. I consider myself one of the luckiest ladies on the planet to be able to be there for my girls every day of their lives. However, I can't say that without a caveat. There are *definitely* days when I wish I could just walk out the door, do adult things all day, and come home for dinner. It's draining to entertain and parent all day, every day. And especially when you have a job you're passionate about. I am SO passionate about my work with Tenth Life, but it always has to come after my family, and that's so, so tough. My business cannot grow until the girls go to school, or we choose to find someone else to care for them. Yes, it's frustrating, but it's the choice we've made.
    I'm sure the transition will be very tough on everyone, but before long, CB will be positively thrilled to go see his buddies at day care, and you'll be a happier mama because you get to follow your own desires in addition to being his mama.
    Hang in there during this rough week. I'll be thinking of you!!!

  2. It is so hard, I know, but one thing that really helped me to hear when we first got home, was that attachment isn't an event, it's a process.
    Every time you leave and come back CB's trust for you will grow, and he will come to depend on the fact that mommy does come back, always.
    Good luck, I will be thinking and praying for you!

  3. Grace--I understand (to some extent). Unfortunately , I don't have a career I'm passionate about, but I wish I did!!! I can see why you are nervous and concerned. But CB has attached well with you, and ultimately, it seems the only way he is going to always know that you return is for you to leave him....and well.....always return. Ideally, no kids would have to go through the trauma and losses our kids have dealt with so young, but every day when you walk back through the door, you will build up his confidence even more. And then you will be crying because he will be running from you to go play with his friends every morning!!

  4. Oh boy, I hear you. James was 15 months old when I had to start leaving him at daycare. The bad news: It was really, really, really freakin' hard and I *still* get a bit teary when I think about those first months. The good news: James is totally, completely fine, and he doesn't remember a thing. Keep repeating to yourself: It's a long journey. It might hurt in the short term (for both of you), but it'll be okay in the end. You've got a long road together stretching out in front of you and this is only one tiny stretch of road, no matter how bumpy it is (or isn't!). Good luck. :)

  5. P.S. I don't know if it helped, but James and I made a game out of saying "goodbye" and reuniting again at home....we'd wave around corners-- "bye bye!" and then disappear for just a few moments and then pop back out and say, "hi!!" as we saw each other and then we'd run to each other and hug and smile and do it all over again. It seemed like good practice and maybe it helped reaffirm that whenever I said goodbye, I'd be back to say hello again? Just a thought. :)

  6. OK, I see a whole lot of stay at home moms commenting here, so I'm just going to come out and say it and hope no one is offended. IT'S OK TO WORK! IT'S OK TO WANT TO WORK. You know what you need to achieve your balance in life. If you choose to stay home with your child, that's awesome. If you need to work full or part time, for whatever reason, that's just fine too. I personally need to work, not because I'm trying to get out of any parenting responsibility, but because I think I'll go batty if I stay home. An overwrought, depressed mom is not a good parent. I actually feel lucky that I DO get to work; I love my job and it pays well enough to pay for childcare X2 (expensive!). Don't let anyone (including you) make you feel guilty about your choice to go back to work, becuase I know it is hard. I agree with what others have said; it will be hard on CB, but your coming back every day will reinforce that you're NOT leaving. It's a work in progress. See how it goes; it it just isn't workable, there's probably room to tinker with your arrangement to find something workable, right? You are smart to ease CB back into it, and it sounds like he's slowly coming around...Please email me if you want to commiserate with another working mommy (I'm off FB until Lent is over, but I think my email address is listed there). Stay strong! Follow your gut. And good luck getting through the day without crying :(

  7. oh no... i feel for you!!! that was hard to read- both for you and choiboy. praying for your week ahead and this time of transition for the whole fam.

  8. Oh Grace. I am so right there with you. I don't have a career I feel called to, but I do have a JOB. When Kisung came home in Nov 2009 he was 20 months old. We were so lucky to be able to juggle child care and be home with him for a whole 10 months before my DH had to get cut out of the arrangements. :)

    The daycare transition was extremely difficult for Ki, and it was so gutwrenching for me for exactly the reason you stated: I feared it felt to him like a transtion to a new living arrangement, and that he thought eventually I'd stop coming back for him, just like what happened to him two other times in his young life. If CB does struggle with the transition, the one and only thing that is going to help is doing it over and over again. You just have to go through it. He has to experience you leaving and coming back every time. Eventually he will trust that you will come back every time. For Ki, it took 2 and a half months. I bet for CB it won't take nearly as long because he's younger and seems to roll with the punches.

    One thing we did to help with the transition was make a simple picture album. It goes something like this:

    [pic of his bed] Good morning! Time to get up!

    [pic of big bro getting on the bus] On school days, J. gets on the bus

    [pic of him in living room] Some days, you stay home with Mommy and play with toys

    [pics of him wearing backpack, getting into car, and sitting in car seat] Other days, you put on your backpack, get in the car, drive to town, and go to . . .

    [pic of daycare center] ______ School!

    [pic of my office] When you are at ___ School, Mommy is at the office

    [pic of us together at home] MOMMY ALWAYS PICKS YOU UP AND TAKES YOU HOME!

    And every day I would tell him, Mommy ALWAYS picks you up and takes you home. He would repeat that so I know he understood it, even if he didn't quite trust it for a while. He is 100% fine now, BTW, and calls the center "MY ___ School."

    All of this being said -- I wouldn't be a bit surprised if CB sails right through this transition just as he has with just about every other thing you have worried about. I give him maybe a week until he's got it all figured out. :) He's one amazing little dude!!!! And painfully cute. :)

    Elizabeth Davis

  9. Boy this brings me back to that time in our lives when Jee started daycare. So tough. Your description of CB when you came back to him is just how Jee was. It brought tears to my eyes to read this.
    The transition was rocky, and 3 month into it we needed to re-work it a bit. I think your arrangement of mornings in daycare and afternoons with you is a perfect balance!
    Here we are a year later: the socialization is great, and I know that Jee trusts that we will come back, and so will CB. Jee races up the stairs at his daycare so he can see his friends, and on days that he's not in daycare he talks about his friends non-stop.
    Expect the extra hugs and lots of holdings to continue for a while, and know that the transition may be tough at times, but you will all find the balance. You really will.

  10. Hi Grace,
    I am a teacher just like you who loves my job! I was home with Kellan for over 6 months and I really looked forward to returning to my classroom of first graders and my lovely coworkers. The transition was NOT ideal and it took a couple of months to work out the kinks. Some of the things that I did that helped were sending a transition object between home and daycare (a stuffed animal), we uploaded videos online that my daycare provider could show when he was having a hard time, we made a book of his friends at daycare and talked about it at home, and we sent a family photo that he could look at there too. All of these things were great . . . but just the routine and knowledge that EVERY day is pretty much the same (drop off, play, lunch, nap, pickup, home) was what ultimately helped him the most. It will be hard on both of you for a few months, but it WILL get exponentially better every week :) Best wishes with your return to work!

  11. Oh yeah, we did that too. I made him the picture book mentioned above, but his teachers also made a picture book of him having fun with his friends at the center. We looked at both books daily for a while. I really do think it helped. ~Elizabeth

  12. This is so tough and I know Wednesday will be really hard for you. But CB *knows* you are his mama, and you are demonstrating over and over and over that you *always* come back for him. Your work day is really short for now, so hopefully he will come to see daycare more like a fun playdate. He may need some extra holding and cuddling, and so may you...

  13. Grace,

    Ugh. ugh. ugh. I agree with so many of the other mommas that posted here. I will be thinking of you this week and the weeks to come, as I know it was not an easy transition for us...heck, we are still transitioning! E. just stopped crying when I leave (on *most* days) and I have been back to work for almost 5 months.

    I completely agree with following your gut, doing what you feel is right for you and your fam, and allowing some time (okay, maybe lots of time) for this process.

    Your are in my thoughts!

  14. It is hard going back... I won't deny it. But it is also really nice seeing that big smile when I get home each night - and those big hugs!

  15. Not a mom (yet!), but boy that sounds rough on all of you! I'm sure he'll transition just fine, but in the meantime I'll be thinking of you guys on Wednesday.

  16. I am thinking of you and praying for you and cb. I have no experience with any of this yet, but the album mentioned above sounds like a fabulous idea to me!

  17. You are doing the right thing. It's okay to work. In fact, CB will get a lot of really wonderful things out of this arrangement (a recharged mama, new friends, accelerated social skills). Like Sarah's okay to WANT to work. It's okay to feel guilty and excited all at once.

    And it will SUCK a lot of days, but really be a blessing a lot of days.

    If it doesn't end up being best for you and CB, you have the ability to make changes. Nothing has to be set in stone, but I'll bet it becomes very positive for both of you.

  18. Ill be thinking of you all & hoping the transition goes as well as possible!!

  19. Hugs girl! It will be a rough few days....but you will get through them thinking of your sweet boy's smile, which is the BEST when you reunite with him. Praying for you both!

  20. I read this post while I was getting ready for work this morning. I'm a fellow working Mom who totally feels your pain! Before I went back to work with Ben, it just made me sick every time I thought about leaving him and Adam (and my Mom watches them!) just because I knew I would miss them both so much. It does get better once you get into the routine. It's the transition that is the toughest. At least you can look forward to Easter and Summer breaks! I'll keep you in my prayers for this coming Wednesday.

  21. oh what an adorable boy he is. i love that last picture. i will be thinking about you. that will be hard. could you maybe leave a little picture album of you and your hubby and other loved ones with him, that he can look at? Can you call him while you are gone and see if that helps? i don't know. just a thought, maybe that would just make it harder.

  22. Hang in there Grace! I believe it's harder on the parents than the kids. CB will learn to love his daycare provider and the other children will become his friends. I started dropping off C at 10 weeks, and I still have guilt about it but she absolutely loves it. Will be thinking of you tomorrow!

  23. P goes one day, since I work work part time, but that first day he went I was SICK. I honestly think it was harder on me. I just had to block it out of my mind...It may not be fun or ideal, but necessary. The daycare sounds AMAZING! You will learn him running to you after daycare is DARLING!

  24. i'm just now reading sorry to be so behind on posts! first off...i would LOVE to see you on s.s.!! you would rock girl. second..i think it is awesome how you feel about your job! i wish everyone could feel that way! i have no experience with this but just from what you wrote, to me it seemed like carson was reacting like any child would in a new situation. it may take him a while to really feel adjusted to it all and to feel comfortable with his new (amazing)environment...but i think he's going to adjust really well. i could be totally wrong here but that's just my thinking. i hope you and cb have a great day tomorrow!!! the time really has flown by!! thinking of you!!

  25. Oh Grace, I can understand all of your fears. My heart got ripped just reading about CB the first day on the trial run. But, I know many kids that go to daycare and it's a great thing for everyone. I know you know that, but really things will be ok. Good Luck today...thinking about you!

  26. OK...I just typed this LONG prolific comment...and blogger lost it. Ugh. I'll try again. Want to see if this is even going to work. Stinkin' blogger! ("We cannot process your request...blah, blah, blah.")

  27. Of course THAT one worked...not the 4 paragraph one...let's see if I can even come up with something close to what I typed before...

    I'm sorry I'm behind on this big step in your life. I'm sorry my comments will be late...but I'm going to leave them anyway...because I'm a chatter box & cannot help it.

    This transition was very hard for us as well. D was 14 months when we started "school." He had been home with us for 6 months (I took the first 3, and my DH the next 3). I was worried about all the same things you were.

    It was hard at first. VERY hard. D did great the first day, but then cried EVERY morning when I'd drop him off...for a while. How long? I think I blocked it out. But stopped...and he seemed to enjoy arriving each day. (People told me this would happen and I never believed them.) Now, D LOVES it...he runs in the room, hugs his friends/teachers, and I have to essentially chase him down to get a hug/kiss goodbye. When I pick him up, there isn't that frantic melt down when he sees me. He seems happy I'm there and he wants to show me everything in the room or whatever they did that day. It takes a while to even get him out of there.

    I LOVED Sarah B's comment. We working mamas need to be reminded: it is OK to work and it is OK to want to work. I felt guilty about returning to work...and sometimes still do. But...for me I knew it was the right thing. I enjoy my career and went to school WAY TOO long to not use my skills.

    It is all about finding balance. This was hard at first and sometimes still is. At times, I feel pulled in different directions. Like Cori said, sometimes it SUCKS, but other times it is great. Sometimes it just "is" and that's OK. This balance works for least right now. 3 days at school, 1 day with me, 1 day with Appa, and then the wknds together. I think this balance makes me a better mom, not worse (at least I hope so). You'll find your balance too.

    HUGS to you as you start this transition (and it does seem to take a while...which is OK). You'll find your balance. You are one rockin' Mama...don't forget it!

  28. I'm so late to the party here... but I gotta "ditto" Janet, Cori, and Sarah B. It's OK to want to work. Heck, I'm barely making enough to cover the cost of daycare... but I am SUCH a BETTER MAMA now that I am working. Holy cow, I didn't even realize it until we started this "new normal." And it DOES suck at first. Big time. I used to leave my sobbing child, get in the car, drive down the street, have a little cry... then get on with my day. After seven months, we're just getting to the point where S wants to stay at school at the end of the day (still some tears in the am though) Hang in there Mama - You will get through it... and if it doesn't work, you'll find the right situation for your family. That I know for sure.

  29. i'm so glad you shared what you were feeling [and probably still are feeling]. i'm a little late here, so i know you have already gone back to school. thinking of you today as you are back at work after the weekend. take care my friend!

  30. Wow, I'm super late to this post too but I read it with some tears in my eyes. For CB, for you ... and for us. Because our transition is less than 2 weeks away right now. We both have to remember what my savvy friend Sarah B said - it's OK to work. Part of my guilt is that my return to work is by choice (not necessity) and sometimes that makes me feel selfish. But I've heard my working mama friends say over and over that it will make us better mommies if we are fulfilled and get a little time away from our little ones. And honestly I'm starting to think that getting Max into a situation with other kids where he'll learn social skills, sharing, more language development - and perhaps even toughen up a bit - will be very, very good for him. But I get sick to my stomach thinking about the transition period because Max is not a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy. But CB strikes me as someone who is and that's a GOOD thing. I know you have a few working days under your belt now and I see you have some more blog posts I need to read so hopefully this past week has gone well for everyone involved. I also have to say that I really soaked up all the comments here and took away some GREAT ideas. Hugs, Grace.


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