J, I love you.
I'm sorry I had to go back to work full-time. I'm sorry you are in daycare and not spending your days at home with me. I'm sorry that I have to study at night and be away from you even more. I'm sorry I don't get to spend anywhere near as much time with you as I want to. You are my priority. I want to spend all of my time with you, but I also have to look after you and provide for you. I want you to have the best of everything. It's a sacrifice right now, and it's one I have to make. And I'm sorry. Please try to understand.
I know that you love your Panda. I am glad that you have him. I am glad that he can go with you to daycare and sit in your crib watching you play. I am glad that he is there, waiting for you to come and cuddle during naptime. I am glad that he comes home with you each night, and that you can carry him about by his wee paw, dragging him behind you wherever you go. I am glad that your Panda is such a special friend to you. I am glad that he comforts you. I am glad that you love your Panda.
But please stop calling your Panda "Mama" now. That is my name. I am your mother. Panda is your bear. Please, sweetheart. I feel badly enough about leaving you each day. I don't want you to tell me that your Panda is raising you in my place, and that he makes a much better parent.
I want to be the only "Mama" in your life. Can I please be "Mama"? And we'll just call your Panda something else.