To My Children, I'm Sorry I Work

by Allee Moore
Originally Published: 
A woman feeding her child while simultaneously working on her laptop

I’m sorry I have to work.

I’m sorry that I have to put you to bed early because I’m tired from an exhausting day.

I’m sorry that when you’re sick, my first thought is “can I call in tomorrow?”

I’m sorry that when you’re home sick, I may not be the one home with you.

I’m sorry that I’m not there in the morning to ask what you dreamed about because I’m at work dreaming about being with you.

I’m sorry that I’m having my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with co-workers instead of you.

I’m sorry that when your sitter says “mommy will be home soon,” you don’t know how badly I want “soon” to be “now.”

I’m sorry that I have to discuss adult things like budget cuts and curriculum with adults instead of butterflies and princess tea parties with you.

I’m sorry that I have to spend time ironing pencil skirts and blouses instead of racing toy cars on the kitchen floor.

I’m sorry that work follows me home.

I’m sorry that I sometimes feel like I see the desktop of my computer more than the blue of your eyes.

I’m sorry that I say, “I just have to do one more thing for work,” every time you ask me to play hide-and-seek.

I’m sorry that we can’t sleep in on rainy days.

I’m sorry that the weekends are too short and the evenings are too rushed.

I’m sorry that most of the weekday dinners I prepare are done in 25 minutes or less.

I’m sorry that other kids get to have their moms drop them off and pick them up from school.

I’m sorry that my Pinterest board is full of crafts that I know we’ll never find the time to do.

I’m sorry that my first time seeing a milestone may be your second or third time doing it.

I’m sorry you have to hear Dad and I debate our schedules when it comes to who is taking you to your doctor’s appointment.

I’m sorry that I have to “heal” your boo-boo on FaceTime instead of kissing it directly.

I’m sorry that I can’t volunteer in your classroom because I’m too busy running my own.

I’m sorry that all of my efforts at winning the lottery have been fruitless.

I’m sorry that I didn’t pick a career path with fewer hours and more money.

I’m sorry that I have to work.

I’m sorry I’m not there.

But most of all, I’m sorry to myself for feeling so guilty. I’m sorry that I cry myself to sleep more nights than I can count because I don’t know how to win at motherhood. I work to provide you with everything I didn’t have as a child: future opportunities, family vacations, a college fund, and maybe some extra money for new dress-up clothes and tea sets.

I swear I’m away from you to make your life better, but that doesn’t save me from my own blame.

True, I knew I’d have to work when I had you, but reality is so much harder than what I had envisioned. I didn’t know how big my heart would swell when I’m with you and how badly it would shatter when I’m away from you.

I’m sorry that I’m sorry for working, and I know that despite my best acting efforts, you know how sad I am when I hug you too long at night, or hold your hand too tight walking to the car.

But no matter how sorry I am, I’m also thankful.

I’m thankful that you understand that your mom needs to work.

I’m thankful that you are grateful for the life my working provides you.

I’m thankful that you still call me your best friend when it sometimes feels like we are passing ships in the night.

But I’m most thankful that when I squeeze your hand too tight on the way to the car—you squeeze mine right back, harder.

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