Mommy Don’t Go

Each morning, our sweet little bug climbs into bed with us when she wakes up, and lays down to snuggle and nurse (yeah she is over three and nursing…some day she will wean, I swear). We lay in bed together, quiet, still half asleep. I inhale the scent of her sleep-mussed hair that smells of fading dreams and rub her toes, I tickle her back and enjoy her tiny little hands lazily running over my face. It is dreamlike. It is quiet.

But then the silence is inevitably broken..tic..toc.. an invisible clock counts the passing seconds in the back of my mind. Time. Time is slipping by. Alarms go off, reminding me that I’m supposed to be in the shower, that I’m supposed to be dressed and walking out the door. And each morning, with alarms buzzing as I try to pry myself from the warm covers and that sweet little face, I feel a pang of emotion cut through me. It twists, it pulls on heart strings, it creates empty hollows in the pit of my stomach, carving out spaces that ache to be filled with her sweet little words, her sweet little hugs. The emotion is like an animal, settling heavily upon my chest and prying at my shoulders, trying to pull me apart, trying in vain to split me in two. This feeling, this overwhelming emotion is guilt….the deepest guilt I know. It is mommy guilt. And it is horrid.

There is this sense of being stuck between two worlds, of trying to remedy the battle of wants vs needs each and every day as I try to explain to that tiny cherubic face with imploring eyes why mommy has to go to work. Every morning is the same. She asks where I’m going, begs me to get back into bed. Tries to distract me from brushing my teeth or getting dressed with silly antics, trying to get me to come and color with her or hanging onto my clothes and refusing to let go. It used to be easier to go to work when she was younger, before she really could communicate. She would cry, and of course that was heartbreaking, but these days with her ability to tell me exactly how she feels about me going to work….well I find it a lot harder, the mommy guilt inside of me is strengthened because she confirms each day that she doesn’t want me to go. As I get dressed, or brush my teeth, she will ask me the question she already knows: “Mommy, where are you going?”, to which I always answer, “Bug, you know where I’m going, mommy has to go to work”.  Generally after I respond there are protests and often tears, and “Mommy you don’t need to go to work today, you stay here with me! Come in the living room and sit with me! Come play with me, Mommy!”. And I wish that I could. I wish that I could spend the day sitting with her and playing with dolls and talking about dragons and reading books about Seahorse daddies that carry their babies in their bellies or about a silly goose named Tilly who likes to wear pancakes as hats and take baths in apple juice.

This is the daily battle, the daily decision that I have to make. The decision to work, the decision to go to my place of business rather than stay home, to ignore that mommy guilt and push through. This is not a post about what is better, being a stay-at-home mom or a working one. This is not about them versus us or anything like that because there is no division, we are ALL just parents at the end of the day trying to do our very best by our loved ones. In fact much of the time I’m pretty positive that those SAHMs have a much harder job than I do in so many ways because parenting is EXHAUSTING and doing so day in and day out without a break…..I don’t know how you ladies do it.

So the question is why do I work if it produces such a deep, heartfelt guilt, but the answer is far more multi-faceted and complex than the question itself. I work so that our family can thrive, so that we have two incomes instead of one; living in LA where things are insanely expensive there really is no other option. I work so that we can take advantage of the amazing health insurance benefits that my company provides. I work so that we can afford to send Little C to a good preschool, so that we can buy organic food, so that we can live comfortably. But beyond the monetary side of things I work because it’s good for my soul. I work because even though it kills me and I have a lot of guilt, I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t work I would lose a piece of myself, the piece that needs validation and that takes pride in my work, that defines some amount of self-worth based on being good at what I do. I think that working actually makes me a better mom in some ways…..but that statement pertains only to me, to the type of person that I am. I don’t think that working makes anyone else a better or worse parent, I just know that for me, myself, I am a better mother when I am able to have that time outside of the house. I am a better mom when I get to just be ME, to be Maya and not Mommy for a little bit.

So to all of my SAHMs, my hat is off to you. To all of my working mamas, big hugs and love. Know that no matter what you are doing, whether you are reading this while wiping baby spit-up or while relaxing on your lunch break at the office, that you are all doing amazing. That we are all just mommies who love our kids, who want the best for them. And if you are about to enter the work force again, after staying home for some time, know that it WILL BE OKAY. It won’t always feel like this. It won’t always be so terribly hard and scary to walk out that door. It will change, and the feelings will change, but know that you will be just fine, and so will your little ones.

My hope that one day Little C will understand, that she will be proud of me, that she won’t fault me for doing what I think is best for our family. I hope that someday she will say “My mommy worked hard to give me everything she could, even though she really missed me”. I so love the photos that I have of two of us together because on days when I’m missing her at work I can look through them, I can feel her hand in mind, can hear her voice in my ears. I want her to know that each day it breaks my heart a little bit to walk out that door. I want her to know that when I hug her goodbye in the mornings I always pause a little longer than normal to bury my face in her neck, to truly treasure those little arms wrapped around my back. I want her to know that I so value our time that we do get to spend together, that I am eternally grateful for the days where I don’t have to leave. That I can’t wait to come home each night to see her smiling face. And that I’m not doing this because I don’t want to see her, I’m doing it because she is the most important thing in our world and I want to give her the universe. I know that for me, for our family, I am doing the right thing. But there are those moments, especially in the mornings when Little C asks me once again where I’m going, that I wish I could say “I’m not going anywhere, babe. I’m staying here with you”.

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31 Comments

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Connie

    This post just touched my heart! My husband has a daughter from a previous marriage. I honestly do not know how he does it– I don’t know how he manages to be so far from her. We get her for the summer, but she spends most of her year in Florida with her mom. It’s just so hard to have a family torn apart and being thousands of miles away from one another.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Bloglovin’

    • Reply February 25, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Ugh that is SO so so hard….I can not imagine and my heart breaks for him. So painful to have your little person so far away….and so hard for his little girl too. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing that with me, it means a lot. MUAH.

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Furore

    You are so cute and adorable, I’m crying!
    Read our LFW review on Furore Magazine

    • Reply February 25, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe hon, I’m so glad that the post was able to touch you! I pretty much cried writing it, so I’m glad to not be the only one!

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Karen Farber

    Your little girl is so adorable! You sure seem like a great mom 🙂

    http://www.littleblackshell.com

    • Reply February 25, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much Karen!! Means a lot <3

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Shelley

    Oh, this was beautiful! I can relate to the mommy-guilt. I think so many moms can. While I had to work because I was a single mom for many years, I now thrive in an active, creative environment. I love my career and the financial security I’ve created for myself (I’m very proud of that!) So, for me, it’s been about striking a balance between the two. This week, I’m taking Friday off to spend with my son…kind of a “sun day” as opposed to a snow day since we’re in California! I know, in my heart, I couldn’t stay home all day (long weekends even make me stir-crazy.) My son is now 14, so I’ve had many years to adjust. Of course, there are still times I wish I didn’t have to respond to that alarm clock, God knows. But, all in all…I think balance is possible. Your family is beautiful and so lucky to have an amazing mom like you (who’s also a very talented writer!) Cheers ~ Shelley

    • Reply February 25, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Shelley thank you so SO much for reading, and relating. The mommy-guilt is so palpable and so strong. Some days it’ just a whisper but other days, like today, it’s more of a roar and begging for me to pay attention to it. I too am attached to the financial security my job provides, as well as the fact that it feeds some of my need for structure and creativity. I totally agree, it’s all about finding a balance, which is something I really don’t think I’ve managed to achieve yet….sometimes I feel like I JUST became a mom and can not for the life of me seem to figure out how to fit everything into the day. Where are you in California?? It would be so cool to meet up sometime, and to talk with you. I created my blog originally because I love to write…but I found that people were more interested in fashion and photos than my musings. I hope that I can slowly start to incorporate my writing back into the blog because writing is what I love. It is when I feel the most me, the most able to express myself and the most HEARD. It is comforting to know that you would not be able to stay at home either, and that the long weekends make you a bit nuts too because sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who feels that way… Thank you again SO much for reading, and for actually thinking that I am a decent writer, haha. You are so inspiring to me.

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Wishes & Reality

    Maya, you are a beautiful mommy inside and out! This post brought tears to my eyes. Time does fly. My little ones are 5 and 7 and next year both will be in school all day and it seems like yesterday I was staring at my first for the first time. Your little C will know how loved she is and the moments that you have together you appreciate in a way that not all do. <3

    Heidi

    • Reply February 26, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Heidi thank you soooo much, it means the world to me! I’m so glad that it touched you….time really does fly..I can not believe that this little lady is already over three. It hurts!! I hope that she knows how much I love her. Thank you for your love and support mama. Means the world to me.

  • I cannot stop crying. Seriously. This post really hit me as I am so torn with feelings about going back to work. Your description of the pride you take in work has definitely helped – I can relate to the feeling of accomplishment. C’s pulling on your clothes and begging you not to go though? I cannot deal with that. Sobs. You are an incredible inspiration – you do it all. These pictures are so beautiful and I love the connection that you two clearly have. My last comment has to be about how talented of a writer you are… I felt like this was a novel, I was so involved in what was going on. Love it. Love you. Think you’re amazing. That’s all for now. xoxoxoxo

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe hon….I remember reading about you going back to work, I think it probably inspired this post! I am so sorry that you are crying, but I’m glad to know at the same time that it touched you…I know that you are so torn….I get it. I wish that I could say something that would make it better…the truth is that some days I’m excited to go to work and looking forward to a day of what feels like accomplishments, but honestly other days it’s just really hard to go because she so badly wants me to stay. You will be in good company though as a working mama, there are many of us in the same boat and we can all support you and each other. I’m always here for you, to cry to or talk to if you need anything. I feel the same about you, you are an inspiration to me!!! And thank you so much…I love writing…it is the thing that makes me feel the best, aside from Chloe kisses, haha. Love you mama. Here for you always! xoxox

  • Reply February 25, 2015

    Jenny Journey

    *Might be a ‘novel-length’ comment, too, Ailee. You aren’t alone!*

    Firstly, you are such a gifted writer, bring that! This is YOUR blog, baby, do exactly what speaks to you, here. The readership you want will be the ones that identify with you and your voice. I’m having to remind myself of that, all the time, but thought you might want a little reinforcement, too 😉

    Secondly, I was just thinking about all of life’s options and how we feel guilt or fear at choosing one thing and not the other. Or developing one area of our life, at the expense of another. And while I think we are very powerful beings, we must operate within the confines of 24-hour days! So, yes, choices have to be made at how to spend our finite time. And we can beat ourselves up or we can feel fortified in that we are making decisions based on our true desires and highest priorities. And self-actualization is a worthwhile one!

    Piggybacking off that, I think parents in this age are extremely hard on themselves. Worrying so often if they are ‘doing it right’. As long as you are providing love, care and guidance, you’re doing it right. Your angel baby misses you, but she’s learning a lot. About independence, socializing and loving other role models. Those are such good things.

    I’m so glad you shared this with us. Brings up a lot of emotion for many parents. We should all be proud of our efforts and revel in the wonderful work we do. *End of novel!*

    Much love,
    Jenny

    p.s. Do you actually operate within 24-hour days? How do you model, blog, work outside the home, commute?, eat, sleep, take showers, be a fantastic mom, cook and look gorgeous in that period?! #superwomanstatus #teachmehowtomara #ordougie

    http://www.jennyjourney.com

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much Jenny – can’t tell you enough what it means to have positive feedback on my writing. Writing is my true love and is why I started a blog in the first place…and you are right, the readership that I want are the ones who identify and relate…I want people to feel something when they read you know? I ALWAYS need that reinforcement to stay true to my passion, so thank you!!! Secondly, I absolutely agree that we can either choose to beat ourselves up for our choices or we can rejoice in the fact that we have the ability to make said decisions…choosing empowerment instead of self-criticism. I can be my own worst critic and I love that you constantly remind me in your posts to love myself and be true to ME.

      I completely and utterly agree that as parents we are SO hard on ourselves, more so now in this day and age than ever perhaps. We are all so worried constantly about if we are doing it right, if we are messing up….worrying that perhaps we misstepped and are going to ruin everything (at least that’s what I fear sometimes) but the fact is, like you said, we are all just doing our very best, and that is doing it right. And I love that the babe is able to be so independent, that she feels comfortable and empowered and strong even when mommy isn’t there with her. It’s truly a blessing and I am lucky. Thank you for your thoughts and love, sweet mama.

      Oh and I need at least 48 hours in the day because 24 seriously isn’t enough…but I feel that way about you, about Ailee, I look at all of you mamas and can not figure out how you do it all with such ease! I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up!! Also, the commute is killer. I wish that I could teleport, because LA traffic can suck it.

  • Reply February 26, 2015

    Cece Gannon

    Dear Maya,

    …another beautiful piece of tender writing. It is such a dilemma, one that follows the ever unfolding growth curve. The pulls and tugs change clothes but the experience remains the same. It is modeling, nourishing and ever so much a part of parenting. Enjoy the wisps, the echoes and each tangible touch…..it passes too quickly…..

    I love you…..Cece

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Cece thank you so much…I credit you with my writing capabilities, you taught me everything I know about the written word and about how to paint pictures, to pull words and emotions together and swirl them into one. And yes, it is forever an unending growth curve, the way that things look change but the thoughts and emotions and learning is forever, from what I can tell. Parenting is the hardest and most wonderful thing I have ever done. Thank you so much for all of your love and support over the years, you are one of my guardian angels and I will forever be grateful for you and all that you do. LOVE you!

  • Reply February 26, 2015

    celyn

    this is so precious…

    lifeisashoe

    • Reply February 26, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you hon….

  • Reply February 27, 2015

    Caitlin

    Honestly, the sweetest most heartfelt piece I’ve read in a while. You are such a beautiful writer, by the way! Also, could you and your daughter dress any cuter? Love this, xx.

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so so much…I am so touched that you read and liked the piece, and that you felt what I was saying. It means so much to me to be able to connect! And thank you haha, love that little lady (convincing her to wear the dress was a battle, lol).

  • Reply February 27, 2015

    Shana S

    I Loved reading your Blog post. I am also a working mama and feel the same way! It really IS hard leaving everyday…

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe mama. I feel for you – it truly is a struggle but it makes it easier knowing that we are not alone, you know? Big hugs to you, babe. MUAH.

  • Reply February 27, 2015

    Tanya

    That is so sweet and it touched my heart!
    Someday we will be blessed with children and I’m sure I’ll feel the same))

    http://www.stripesnvibes.com

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much Tanya! Yes, it’s one of those rights of passage I think that we get to go through as parents, these feelings that I write about. I can’t wait for you to experience it one day! Thank you so much for reading 🙂

  • Reply February 27, 2015

    Jennifer Banash

    This was so beautiful, Maya. And I struggle with the same feelings every day. I’m a teacher and a writer of Young Adult books, and I often feel like I’m racing breakneck through my days, with no time to stop, to slow down and appreciate all that is right in front of me. My daughter turns two next month, and recently she’s been having a terrible time letting me go to work in the mornings. I often spend the first ten minutes of my day quietly crying at my desk because my heart feels so heavy in my chest. I love what I do, but there’s no balance, no such thing here in Los Angeles where two incomes are largely necessary, and where I spend 80% of my day at work, taking care of other people’s kids and my weekends writing books! Which is something I love to do. Still. The guilt is sometimes overwhelming.

    • Reply February 27, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Oh mama…yes. Your words are making me tear up because I know that pain so well…and the crying at the desk too…thank goodness for having my own office… I always feel like my day is just racing by, so much to do, so much to keep up with. Days are filled with work and nights after the little is sleeping i blog, on the weekends I have to shoot photos…it’s a constant. And I feel like I’m missing so so much. It hurts. This morning the babe kept asking me to put my pajamas back on, kept asking me to stay. LA is so hard, and so expensive. I am so amazed that you write Young Adult Books though, so cool! I love writing and wish that I could do something like that…you’re amazing. I don’t really know many mothers here in LA, and while time is super difficult with things already stretched so thin, getting the kids together some time if you ever wanted would be great. It’s nice to feel heard and have someone who understands. Thank you so much for reading!

  • Reply February 27, 2015

    Annie

    Maya – this post is beautiful – you have such a way with words and sharing your heart. Not only your heart – but a mama’s heart! I think this was articulated perfectly and I feel like there is so much wisdom in this message. I think the mommy guilt is built in no matter what we do – work or stay at home…I felt it working and feel it now as a SAHM – it doesn’t go away. Your encouragement to follow your heart and do what is best for you and your family is key! I am a firm believer that there is no right or wrong and what is important is that mommy is happy because in turn our children will be happy too. Thank you so much for sharing and just what a positive influence you are for us all!!!

    • Reply March 2, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much for reading the post, Annie! I love that you have the insight from both sides (being a working mom and a sahm), and you’re absolutely right no matter what we do we carry that mama guilt, it seems to just be a part of what we do…I so agree that there is no right or wrong as long as we are doing what we think is best for our loves. Love you doll!

  • Reply March 4, 2015

    Colleen Pastoor

    This is such a sweet post! I have tears in my eyes- I feel like no matter what I’m doing (leaving for work or closing my office door at home in the evenings)- there’s guilt no matter what. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Also- those photos are gorgeous! What a sweet session to have captured with your sweet girl!

    • Reply March 4, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe thank you so much for reading!! I feel the same, no matter what I do there is guilt and something is neglected…it’s so hard! Thank you so much for relating, makes me feel less alone you know?

  • Reply March 8, 2015

    Jen Gardner

    Love your writing. You have a talent for excellent literary expression. I can very much relate and while I’m home most of the day, I feel guilty when I have to turn on the tv or walk away from a crying toddler so I can talk to a client. I too hope one day Leela will be proud of my hard work both at home and at work. I hope she will see how I kept ahold of my passions and identity admists engulfing motherhood. I love being Lele’s mom and I also love being Jen. Work def. gives me the opportunity to wear both hats. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon 🙂

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