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When work frightens a child

She was just two and a half years old when I had to make the first hard choice of our lives: left her behind, under the care of my mother, in order to go for a job with good perspectives, which was 3.500km away from my home town. And so I did.

Every day I used to call home and talk to my little daughter, asked how she was doing at the kindergarten, and every day I said: "mom is working, and I will soon come to pick you up to live here with me". But this "soon" was not exactly a true statement, it could take around one year until I got a house from the company and could bring her to live with me.

Ten months later I received the house, but I could only fly home on my vacations, so I still had to wait two months to pick her up to me. This one year apart was way too hard, and I counted anxiously the days and hours to bring her to our new home.

In order to make an easier transition, I brought my mother to stay with us for some time and help her to adapt to her new life. We arrived on a Friday, then spent the weekend together exploring our house and the local places. On Monday morning I took her to her new school, where she immediately felt comfortable, saying hello to all colleagues she crossed on the way to the entrance. Up to that moment, there were no worries, she was fine.

At my lunch break, I picked her up at school and went home. My lunch break was long enough to have lunch together at home and still play before I went back to work. We even had time to do the homework together.

When I told her I had to go back to work, she clung on my neck and started to cry, asking me not to go, as if I were going to disappear again for a long time. "Work" had been engraved in her subconscious as something very bad, which took her mama away from her for a too long time, and she did not want it to happen again.

It broke my heart to notice the damage that the word "work" had made in her. I put her tenderly on my lap and tried to explain in simple words that I would be back at the end of the afternoon, and that I would be like that every day. Even though she cried desperately when I left. My mother told me in the evening that she only got a little bit calm when it was time to take a nap. And after waking up, she used to ask every five minutes "When does mom come back?".

At school, she was fine since the first day, but it took almost a week until she understood our new routine and did not cry anymore when I left to work after lunch.  

This was only the first emotional scar on her in our lives full of meetings and farewells. As the only breadwinner, I made my choices thinking about what would be better for us in the long run. No place for regrets, time flows and the pain goes.

More stories are to come. And feel free to comment and tell your story. You are not alone in this journey.

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