I was more worried about Jeff. He has always, since he was little, made it clear to me that NO arrangement other than 100% mommy all day long, is ok with him. I remember when he was just a toddler, 3 years old, and I had him in the Perky Penguin Preschool. A friend at work had tried to give me helpful parenting advice. "Always ask about the child's worst and best parts of their day, that way you get them comfortable talking about school with you."
So I tried it on my little Jeffrey.
"What was the worst part of your day?"
"When you dropped me off, Mommy. When you left me!"
"Uh, ok, baby, then tell me about the best part of your day."
"That was when you came to get me Mommy, when you came back."
That wasn't how the conversation was supposed to go.
So now I had to tell my sweet boy that I would be going back to work. He was playing a balloon popping game on the computer when I told him that I had been offered the job, and what did he think about that.
Of course, as I expected, he said he didn't like it. Then he continued looking at the screen, shooting the balloons, and I could see his big brown eyes start to turn red at the edges, and then begin to fill up. I would do ANYTHING to keep my baby from being this sad.
"Oh Jeffrey look at me!" And he did, and then blinked, and two gigantic tears made their way down his sweet cheeks, and his eyelashes turned into a spiky wet fan.
"Why do they have to make you go back? How can they force you to? I thought you quit. How come those bad people can do this?"
"Jeffrey, I want to go do this job. This job is different, with different people."
"You want to go?" And then we stared at each other, both realizing something about each other at that moment. I noticed that Jeffrey wasn't complaining about what would happen to him, but he was thinking about what going to work was like for me. And he was considering that this wasn't something that was happening to me, but that I was doing willingly. I was afraid that he would see that as an even worse abandonment, but although he was sad, that didn't seem to be it.
Then I knew that the worst thing for my kids wasn't the hours that I had to spend away from them. And that although of course they would prefer to have me standing on the porch with a plate of fresh baked cookies when they got off of the bus, the thing about my working that really caused a problem was how stressed the many conflicts of it all made me. They just like the happy and relaxed mommy better than the frazzled and worn out one.
So that's what I have to do, find a way to make it so that I can go to work and come home and be the mother that they need me to be. And this transition has allowed me to figure out who that is, and a brand new start at trying to do it right this time.