I can't sleep.
I've been lying here in bed for the past two hours, staring at my alarm clock and wondering what tomorrow will hold for both of us.
Tomorrow's a big day. Tomorrow, I'll be going back to work for the first time in eight years. And you'll be going to daycare for the first time ever.
Where did the time go?
Five years ago, when your brother was your age, I didn't have a "work-out-of-the-house" job like I do now. That means that I got to spend far more time with him at home than I will with you.
And for that, I have serious mom guilt.
Starting tomorrow, everything will be different. Unlike with your brother, I'll be at work while you're at school. Unlike with your brother, I won't be at home waiting for you, taking care of stuff around the house to make the space nice and calm for you when you return.
Instead, starting tomorrow, you'll be running errands with me for the second half of the day. You'll come with me to get your brother after his sports practices. You'll eat on the go, just like me. You'll probably have to take your nap in the car, too.
So why did I decide to take a job, after all these years of being a stay-at-home mom? Well, I miss being outside of the house. I miss talking to adults. I miss having time for myself.
Writing that last sentence was hard, but it's the honest truth. If I have more time to be me, and tend to some of my own wants, I know that it'll help me be a much better mom... even if that means I'm spending less time with you.
And that's how I know that going back to work is what's best for us — and for me. You're so ready for a more social setting. I see it in the way you interact with other children and crave constant entertainment. You're different from your brother in that way. You're truly ready for a change — just like I am. That's not to say that we won't have rough mornings, where you won't want to hurry and eat breakfast or get dressed.
But you're a strong boy, and I'm a strong mom, and I know we're going to get through this. In fact, the more I think about it, the more excited I am for this change. I'm excited because it means that we'll be learning and growing together. There'll be bumps along the way for sure – some will be mine, and some will be yours. But the point is that when we do hit these bumps, we'll be hitting them together.
You know the real reason why I know everything will be okay? It's you. Tomorrow, I'll see your smiling face getting ready for "school." You'll be proud to put your backpack on your tiny shoulders. You'll take great pride in your new school shoes and lunchbox. At tomorrow's pick-up, I know you'll waste no time in telling me, your dad, and your brother all about your day, and then again at dinner, and maybe one more time before bed.
I hope one day you read this and feel pride. Your mom wanted a change, and was bold enough to try something new, something that terrified her, changed the family dynamic, but made her happy.
Tomorrow is a big day for both of us, and I just can't wait to share it with you.
I love you more than you might ever know.
This article was originally published on Care.com.
Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based parenting writer, former publicist, dog lover, coffee drinker extraordinaire, and mom to an exuberant four-year-old boy. Follow her @cmf2009 and read her musings about being a stay at home mom on her blog, Mama to the Rescue.