I’ve seen the SAHM vs Working Mom battle waged time and again but this is NOT that battle. At least not really. I mean, it is, but only as it relates to me and my situation. And you and yours if your feelings happen to also be my feelings. If not, no harm, no foul. Just keep on doing your thing.
Here’s the thing: my hackles get raised every time I see the “I can’t let daycare raise my child” bit from a SAHM. But not because I disagree with what she’s saying.
My blood pressure rises ever so slightly when I read things like that because, in almost every way, I feel like daycare has done an awful lot of the raising of my child. And not necessarily in the “it takes a village” sense.
And then comes the argument from the other side. “My” side: “Daycare’s certainly not awake when my child is screaming at 2 in the morning! If daycare were raising my child, it would be!”
So then I go, “yeah, but I don’t exactly want to be awake with a screaming child at 2 a.m. either” and I think back to all the smiles and finger painting and fun my child has at daycare. Without me. All of the good things I miss.
Early on in this pregnancy, I found myself completely overwhelmed when I thought back to Joshua’s early months.
The ones where I took a 4 month old to band camp. The ones where he refused to nurse any longer. The ones where I picked him up in the afternoons only to take him back to school with me for another hour and a half or two. The ones where no one slept. The ones where I couldn’t do it all.
The ones after I went back to work.
In some ways, going back to work saved me a little. It gave me a place to hide from the screaming ball of poop and lungs that I couldn’t understand. It gave me a place to feel more like myself in the face of the PPD that threatened to take over my soul.
But in others, it just made me feel like less of a mom.
I remember, somewhat vividly, because that’s what PPD does to people, the feeling that daycare got all of the good parts of Joshua while I got all of the bad. And I do mean all.
He was always cranky in the evenings. He always wanted to go straight to bed almost as soon as we got home. Then he was up two or three times a night. We couldn’t find a rhythm that left both of us happy and content. And the weekends were no help because we’d spend two days trying to figure things out only to realize we had to go back to work on Monday and everything would just be all screwed up again.
I felt like I didn’t know my son. I didn’t know what he liked or what he was capable of doing and not doing yet. I’d get the milestone emails and I’d skim them because reading them in-depth made me realize I didn’t know if he’d reached those particular milestones yet. I stumbled over developmental questions at the pediatrician because I didn’t have the answers.
I felt like I couldn’t be present as his mother because so many other things also demanded my immediate and undivided attention. So when I felt the word “simplify” tugging at my heart early on in this pregnancy, I was both shocked and, well, not shocked.
There’s a very huge part of me that wants to stay at home next year, and for several years beyond that should situations allow it. I want to see New Girl’s firsts in a way that I didn’t see those firsts with Joshua. I want to be there for her good moments and not just her bad ones.
Thankfully, Dan’s job has been good to him this year (I mean, it started last year). Financially, right now at least, this is looking pretty possible for us. And really, the financial aspect of this potential change is one I understand and am most prepared to handle. Sure, there will be belt tightening and couponing and simpler living. I can do that.
But how do I do this emotionally? How do I prepare myself for the adjustment of hanging up my teacher hat? For just being a mom and not a mom who drops her kids off with someone else so she can go and spend time with other people’s children five days a week? How do I step out of my career knowing full well that in this economy, there’s no guarantee I can step back into it in the foreseeable future?
How do I make the right choice?