I went back to work about 2 months after my son was born.
First one day. Then two. As long as he seemed to be thriving. I landed on 4 days a week.
That process was a luxury since I work for myself. Most moms and dads don't have that opportunity.
So what did I miss? Lots. I would wonder what he was doing. Learning. Experiencing at his little school.
And boy, there was some guilt. Not too much to handle. But it made the hours I was with him seem even more precious. Not always full of ultimate meaning and significance. But precious.
I asked him one time when he was about 8. "Do you wish I wouldn't work? That you had a stay-at-home mom?"
"You're the mom I have. I don't know what anything different would feel like".
Such a simple answer.
That helped. But there were hurdles.
Especially early on. After he had a choice of who to run to for comfort, he didn't always choose me. Sometimes it was his dad. Ouch. I was "the mother"! The giver of all things healing! What in the heck was he doing running to his father?
"It wouldn't be that way if you stayed at home with him".
That shameful voice had to be shut up frankly or I would have gone a little bonkers. Picked a fight with my spouse. Or put some kind of guilt trip on my son. Maybe other dubious things - to avoid dealing with my real feelings.
It stung. My more rational side, when it could come up for air, would remind me that it was a good thing. That he and his Dad needed and deserved a wonderful relationship. That I shouldn't be jealous or selfish. After all, it was best for my child to feel close to us both.
It still stung. Gave me a weird insecurity at times.
That's when we discovered the phenomenon of the MRP.
MRP. Most Recent Parent.
Whoever our son had spent the most time with in the last day or two, that's the parent he chose for comfort. Or for a hike up to the kitchen counter. Whatever.
I was so relieved by this revelation, I nearly cried. In fact, I probably did cry.
The same seems true for grandparenting. Sometimes I hear a lot of fear that the "other" grandparents will be more popular. More involved. It's difficult to see your grandchild run to another grandparent. What's up with that?
Sometimes those grandparents actually do live closer. It is easier for them to help out or be involved. Or perhaps the mom or dad feels more comfortable initially with their own mom and dad. Those grandparents may become literally the MRGP. Most Recent GrandParents. If you arrive, it could take time for a young child to turn to you.
Settling in and enjoying the relationship for what it is. Not forcing it into one that you need. Letting it be whatever it is going to be. Knowing there is plenty of love to go around.
That makes it all go so much more smoothly.
And you can focus on loving that child.
Dr. Margaret Rutherford is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over 20 years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She began blogging in 2012 after her only son left for college, coining the term "NestAche" for her empty nest experience. Not only here on Boomeon, she has been featured on the Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, BlogHer, Readers Digest, The Cheat Sheet and ArkansasWomenBloggers. Her new eBook, "Seven Commandments of Good Therapy", a basic guide on choosing a therapist or evaluating your current therapy, is available for free on her website. You can find her at DrMargaretRutherford.com or on Twitter @doctor_margaret.
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