Tales from the Trenches: FOMO, Working Mom/Last Baby Edition

When my first child was born, I was not ready to be a mom. When you read a sentence like that, your mind probably jumps to thoughts of teenage mothers, unplanned pregnancies, and unstable relationships.  Yet none of them were, in fact,the truth for me.

I was 29 years old when my daughter was born. My husband and I had been married for exactly 4 years (she was due on our wedding anniversary, though she was too tardy to celebrate with us).  We lived in a condo we owned and I had a master’s degree and a blossoming career under my belt.  Not only that, but I had spent the year before my daughter's conception all but badgering my husband to declare that he too was ready for parenthood.

And yet... and yet...  though I had yearned to be a mom with every fiber of my being, I had no concept of what it would mean. I found my daughter's arrival, her constant need, the million decisions she forced me into making on her behalf utterly paralyzing. I suspect I am not the only mom to ever have had such a realization, though too many of us keep this to ourselves. I had a continuous anxious stream of doubt narrating everything I did.  The torrent could best be summarized with the words "I am moments away from failing the most important test life has ever presented me with."  And so it was with some relief that I handed my daughter over to the confident, warm, and professional care of ladies at the daycare.  They sent dozens of children home alive every day - surely they would do no worse by my child.

Fast forward two and a half years. I have grown much more comfortable in my role as a mother. This journey has taught me a million and one lessons in patience, humility, and our inability to control things as parents.  I now have a second child - a beautiful, cuddly, 5 month old boy. He is truly a delight and I know he is my last child.

I know this because we don't want to move to a bigger house.  I know this because I physically could not handle another pregnancy.  I know this because both my husband and I are ready to move onto the next chapter of our lives and leave diapers and naps behind when these kids are ready.  So I find myself aching, every time I leave him in the care of the very same confident, warm, and professional ladies at the daycare.  I want to hold him a little too tight and soak in every scent of his babyhood.

Now, instead of worrying that I am not measuring up as a mother, I am terrified that by going to work each day I'm missing out on giggles that I will never have the opportunity to hear again.  I know how all too soon he will be too mobile, too busy, too curious, too excited by the world to sit on my lap and play with my finger.  I can see this future because of the bold path forged by my fearless daughter. And so, at night, I nurse him a little longer.  I feel his body relax into mine and my inner monologue screams "remember this!!".  I know that as he achieves his milestones I will be proud and sad in equal measure.

I am sure that stay at home moms feel exactly the same way about their last babies.  I am sure of this because one of the many things motherhood has taught me is the universality of this pull towards our children. Also, I am sure because the phrase "if that's the last baby I ever snuggle, it will be too soon!" has never been said.

I love working. I find it fulfilling. I'm good at it. I also appreciate paying our mortgage. Quitting is not on the table any more than having more children or joining the circus.

And yet.... And yet... I fear missing his babyhood.  He is my second, my last baby and though I know this to be the right choice for me, my heart breaks for it.

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