Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Working Momma Guilt and Worries

I have total working momma guilt.

My mom tells the story of working part-time while one of my sisters was tiny. My sister had a live-in Indonesian nanny that we all loved. That sister was the hardest toddler, but my mom says when she stopped working and came home full-time, my sister's behavior was transformed.

That story weighs on me as Judah enters the terrible twos and I don't know what is normal toddler behavior, what is Judah's unique personality, and what is the effect of insecurity because his momma isn't home enough.

Christmas was rough on the little man, for starters because he was sick, but when he started to feel better he would have happy times and then crash into clingyness and fits. The clingyness thing.... I wrote about separation anxiety about a year ago, and here I am, telling much of the same story.

My kid is a happy, sweet, energetic two year old.
When I am home, he wants up. Especially if I'm cooking or doing my makeup/hair. Is this because I haven't firmly set the boundary that he can't always be held when I'm busy, or is it because he so wants time with me and especially when I'm standing he feels like I could walk out the door before he could protest?

When I'm sitting down he's more likely to play contentedly, but just as often he plays literally ON me. He will lay across me and roll his cars around on the arm of the chair next to me. Is that because he is a way more snugly/physical touch oriented kid than I was, or is that because he's desperate to be close to his momma?

When we're traveling, Judah sometimes does okay, but on some trips (including both Christmases) he has been fussy and often miserable. When we got home this year he was absolutely delighted. The following days he was so giggly and sweet and just SO happy. Has he just been sick while we're traveling, or does he have a really hard time with change and strangers? Or, in contrast, is he not getting enough time out with other people and kids?

Judah had the hardest time of any kid I've seen in going to nursery. For a year and a half I only made it through one church service without the nursery calling me to come and get him because he was inconsolable. He's since calmed down, and now when we pass him into his classroom he still cries, but calms down quickly once we're gone. His classroom faces the outside, so when I pass by the window I stop and watch him play. I've never seen him playing directly with other kids. He plays with the cars and toys alone, and I see the adults engaging him and him responding. I have seen him play freely with his cousin and with kids at Asian churches. Is Judah just shy, and something about the communal dynamic at the Asian churches and homes we've been in makes him comfortable? Is he insecure because I'm not home with him enough? Or is there something else that makes him overwhelmed by strangers and crowds and change?

Judah is two and a month. I now know of a lot of little boys who didn't talk by this time and really started taking off at two and a half years old. I'm not super concerned yet, but enough to keep an eye on his speech. Little girls his age are jabbering on in full sentences, and J refuses to say much more than "Daddy", "wuff wuff", and "Judah". "Up" comes out "pa". In fact, he persistantly calls me "Ba" every time we ask him to say "mommy". 

So. Mommy angst.

On the other hand, like I said, he's sweet and playful and hilarious and loving. I know every momma worries about their kid, especially the first. Even if I DID know if something was out of the ordinary, would I be able to change anything? Or are we doing exactly what we need to do to love and grow Judah, and he will do it at his pace, with his own personality, and I shouldn't worry about how he compares to other kids?


Kari said...

Oh, mama. Peace to you.

AHLondon said...

I need to go to bed, so short only because I'm tired.
The traveling gumpies are from traveling. This is the most difficult age to take on planes for all the reasons I'm sure you have discovered. No mommy guilt for that.
He is clingy (and screamed at daycare/creche) because you are gone during the day, but that does not mean you should indulge all demands for your attention. Don't let mommy guilt rule. It will do neither of you any good. Try to make your mommy time and your gone time as predictable for him as you can. For instance, always play with him for 30 minutes after breakfast, leave and return at the same time each day, have him help you pick out your shoes and coat--the details are for you to sort out, but the more he can predict when you are gone and when he has your undivided, he will relax a bit. Personality will play a factor. Get hubby on a routine too. It won't solve the clings, but it will help.

Kacie said...

Well, the traveling grumpies aren't from taking planes, because we've been doing road trips.

And, when I am gone, he is always with daddy. He is only in nursery during church services.

Charlotte said...

90% of all Catholic churches don't have nurseries or cry rooms. Yes, it's led to frustration for me at mass, but overall, my son is happier with mom and dad at church. They learn how to behave at church by being AT and IN church. That's my two cents, and I may be wrong. It is a decidedly non-Protestant notion, I know.

Kacie said...

Yeah, Charlotte, that's the way it was in Indonesia too. I don't mind it now, honestly, because it's the only time he gets with kids.

The Protestant notion was initially to teach children, and not during the church service, but it's evolved to glorified childcare and a decidedly non child-friendly service. I'm with you on that - they should learn IN church.

Rach said...

You're not doing anything wrong. Seriously. It's clear that he adores his mommy, and that's not a bad thing. Our Judah can be extra clingy with Daddy, because he is the one more likely to have to walk out the door to go to work. It can sort of kill me a little inside when I try to help him and he asks for Dad, but then I remind myself that I want that strong relationships to develop between the two of them.

And the talking thing is worth keeping an eye on, but between 2 and 2.5 was word explosion for most kids I know. Seriously, I can't even believe how much our Judah began talking during those few months.

thegypsymama said...

Hey, responded to this post in my comments section where you linked it. Your Judah sounds a lot like my Micah and girl, if you can, I'd say pour your all into him and let him use you as his personal grounding board - kids that need that kind of closeness to make up for the time apart - POUR IT ON, is the one big lesson I learned from Micah. Just forget what the West says and pour it all on. It won't still be necessary come college :)

More thoughts over at my place....