On being at home with the kids

My time at home with my babies is over. Four years ago, almost to the day, I was heavily pregnant with twins and left my job with only a vague idea of what was to come. I had notions of heading back to work as soon as my maternity leave was over. I was all “I am woman, hear me roar” about it and there was no way I was going to give up a career I had worked so hard for.

That didn’t happen. A different kind of feminine notion took hold in the minute between the first and second of my sons was born. In an instant, holding them both in my arms for the first time, I grew up, got wise, and became the fierce mama I am.


This. This is when it happened.

Being a stay at home mom has been an experiment in extremes, punctuated by life events that were completely out of control and all the expected things that kids bring, but double the intensity. The highs are higher and the lows are lower with two, and we have ridden that rollercoaster 1398 days now.

My boys are wild, loud, beasts who will take over the world some day with sheer force of abandon. My Unicorn has imagination beyond compare and an incredible depth of kindness. My Engineer has an aptitude and precociousness for figuring out how the world works and he does it with wit. These are things I already know about them, and I know in my heart who they will be long before they get there. And so I don’t worry for that; I know that they will be themselves, and if they’re lucky, be happy at that.

Fall 2012 090

The Engineer and The Unicorn

And tonight, tonight it hit me with the force of a speeding railway, after they were snuggled into bed, after all the dishes were done, and the wine drunk, the relaxing over. Tonight, as I went to check on them before I turned to bed myself, I realized that tomorrow we will wake up and be a different kind of family. I will be a different kind of mom.

I know that the fact that I had a choice to stay home and now go back to work was a great luxury, so I won’t dwell on it. But I will grieve a little for this shift in my universe; this separation that I never wanted. I will still do all the mom things that moms do everywhere every day. I will still be there in the morning and at night and every minute that I am able. They will still need so much from me.

And oh my god, I am grateful, so profoundly grateful that I had nearly four years to spend with my little folk and grateful that I found it in me to do it, because I was so afraid that I didn’t. I am grateful for the things that they have given me; the patience, the knowledge that time passes whether it’s good or bad, and how to find joy in those small moments even when the day has been hard.

Summer 2012 645


So tomorrow I send them off into this world a little bit in a way I am not prepared for yet. I will have to approach it the same way I approached becoming a mom; vague notions and blind faith that it will all work out alright. And it will, because I am armed now with the knowledge that as long as those two little goofballs are in this world with me, everything is ok.



  1. Roller, it’s been such fun to hear your descriptions of life at home with these two wonderful guys over the years. You have such flair for helping us to experience vicariously, a little bit of what you get to enjoy/endure everyday. Just as you triumph at being an amazing “stay at home Mom”, you’ll surely triumph at “working Mom”. Chin up. You’re pretty amazing yourself. Now wipe the ketsup off your chin before you go to work.


    1. Well garsh, Kstew, those are kind words. And to think I have known you since well before I picked out my wedding dress. Life has funny turns in it, doesn’t it?
      The ketchup stays; I like to keep people’s expectations of me low.

    1. Thank you. Jury is still out on whether working mom or at home mom is harder, but so far none of my coworkers have put their hands in my lunch. SO FAR.
      You are a spectacular mama too.. together we’d be a real spectacle.

  2. RG, what a great post. I know many women struggle with this — going back to work but it sounds as if you’ve made peace with it and how great that you got to spend this time with your boy. (I love their nicknames btw — what a cool Mom you are). They are precious and that pic of you holding them is just — poetic. Hope you’re going back to work (though, I’ll just bet your work at home was way more difficult!) is working out great. Such a thoughtful, sweet post — thank you for sharing this.

    1. It is all going alright Brig, and thank you as always for your kind words. I also have a soft spot for that photo; it was literally the first time I held both babies in my arms after a few days in the NICU. One of those moments that is seared into my brain forever! And, yes, it was a struggle, but I am surprised to feel at peace with it all, and it’s a good feeling. Hope things are looking up your way too.

  3. Poignant post as always. I know this is a bittersweet time for you, but isn’t that the theme of raising children? Every day there is something new, a change, but with each change we feel a sense of loss for what came before? Excuse while I go cry over pictures of my kids as babies.

    1. Thank you Meme. I know you know more than anyone how bittersweet it all is; we’ve talked about it often. Despite the adjustment to daycare, I am pleasantly surprised at how much my boys have grown and matured over the last year and it makes me all sniffly again just thinking about it.

  4. This post really touched me, and I swear I could have written it. When my boys were young, I spent some time at home with them as well. My return to work was full of ambivalence, but I knew my choice was only temporary. And when I returned to work, I saw my kids continue to thrive, and we developed a new dynamic quickly. And I still felt I had plenty of time with them. I was happy and fortunate to experience both sides of the coin. Neither situation was easier or harder than the other. They were just different. Good luck with your new transition!

    1. I agree; there’s challenges to both circumstances, but it is heartening to hear someone at the other end of the kid-time continuum say that it has worked out well! I know already we have learned to appreciate each other a little more and time together is a little more precious, so hopefully we keep that trend up.

    1. I did; I spent two days at the spa detoxing and, well, let’s be honest, I slept by the mineral pool with a newspaper over my face and it was kind of embarrassing. But now work! It’s been fun!

  5. “(J)joy in those small moments even when the day has been hard” – I loved this line because it so encapsulates the difficulties of living with small humans. Hope the transition back among adults wasn’t too difficult.

    1. Small humans are terribly unreasonable compared to adults, although I will never understand adults’ penchant for meetings at work. Meetings are terrible. To compensate I have a picture of my kids in diapers and bunny ears on my desk so when people are talking to me too long I can just stare at that instead.

    1. Aww, the lasts are hard. But I do think I prefer knowing what the lasts are than missing them.. there’s a few things that my boys have stopped over the years (nursing, certain phrases) that I just missed, and only realized much later.

    1. This is quite true. Although so far my company and team seems to be filled with rational people who lack the paranoia and hysteria I grew accustomed to at my last job. I’ll have to see what I can do to change that.

  6. As I write this, you’re almost at the end of your first day at the new gig. I hope being away from the Engineer and the Unicorn wasn’t too awful. Congratulations, and also sympathies, on this new phase of motherhood. You’ll kick ass at this one too.

  7. I hope this first day in your new gig went well and you did not suffer too much separation anxiety away from the Engineer and the Unicorn and they did not suffer too much away from you. You’re starting a new routine and hopefully, this transition will be relatively smooth. Lovely pictures.

    1. It has had it’s bumps but it’s been alright. I think the scariest part about change is anticipation. I think I can finally count myself as an adult because I took the lead time before starting to do things like prepare and process rather than nap, drink beer, and cry, as is my usual schtick!
      I hope all is well in your corner of Manhattan. How’s the project going?

      1. Theoretically I’m an adult, so much so AARP has been stalking me for almost four years, but I do love to nap and drink beer! Glad the transition has been going alright. I hope the double small-fry feel the same about this major change. Possibly they’ve adapted to it much quicker than you … The project is in its final stages and should be revealed by mid-April. I’m hoping it might even be sooner.

        1. Don’t get me wrong: all I really want out of life is a nap and a beer. In my hammock, preferably. I can’t wait for all three weeks of hammock season here.
          The boys don’t really know what has hit them, but they are alternately unreasonably angry at me and incredibly sweet and appreciative of me, landing more on the side of appreciative. So there’s that.
          Really looking forward to the big reveal!

            1. He’s complaining about having to get up earlier, but I think once all the kinks are worked out it will be actually better and easier for him. I am pretty sure walking into a disaster zone and wife in unattractive yoga pants every day wasn’t working out for him.

                1. The getting up early doesn’t work for this night owl either, but I suppose we lost all rights to sleeping in some time ago.
                  Also: we are planning a music trip this summer and it looks like it *might* be NY. I’ll keep you posted!

  8. Jen, that picture of you holding your babes…how precious is that!! I can see how it happened in that instant. I can understand your anxiety? Fear? But maybe just facing it will be enough and you will adapt. It will be different but things are always changing, aren’t they? Best of luck.

    1. Things are always changing, and I think that this was a much needed mix-up for all of us. I am surprised at how calm it has been, and if I ever manage to get enough sleep at night, I will actually enjoy it I think! One thing that is not changing so far is my night owl tendencies.
      I hope you’re well, Amy! I promise to go catch up with your blog over the long weekend and see how you’re doing.

      1. Jen, I know I would have a lot of trouble NOT being a night owl. I struggle with an early rise. I feel when I do it, I’m more productive. Unfortunately, kid #2 has my night owl genes, and is such a tough one to get to bed!! I can’t get too mad at him though, because I think it’s all my fault. That kid could easily pull an all nighter!

  9. Jen,
    I chose to write my comment now that you are way passed your first day and first week. I could have waited after your first month, perhaps even your first year, but I’m senile, and I fear that I might have commented at that time about the poor quality of kids’ TV shows, unless it’s Adventure Time, which let’s face it, is not really for kids.
    Le Clown

    1. Le Clown,
      I am writing you from the year 2045. It has been seven years since you’ve stepped down as Supreme Emperor of Quebecistan, and Adventure Time is basically an advertisement for the Toaster Council now.
      Le Rollergiraffe

  10. I don’t think it is ever easy to make the decision to either stay home or go back to work. I never took a maternity lave my my kids. Sometimes I regret it and sometimes I don’t. Most times I feel like I made the right decision, but sometimes there is doubt. I am sure if I did it the other way, I would feel the same way about that decision.

    I hope you are enjoying your time back at work and your boys are adjusting well.

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