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Thursday, April 05, 2007
No one loves you like your mama
I had a pretty sobering experience yesterday, as I went to check out a daycare during my lunchbreak. I've done so much research on potential caregivers, and this place was not only recommended by a coworker, but it actually has hours that work with my schedule (I work until 6pm and lots of places around here require pickup by 6pm at the latest, which I can't arrange).

The center I visited is not only state-certified, but it is a recommended daycare for going "above and beyond" state requirements. The caregivers seemed nice and playful with the children. They answered all my questions and let me walk through every classroom.

But when I left that center, I sat in my car and cried. Just cried. My little boy isn't even here yet, and I feel such guilt and trepidation about leaving him in the care of someone who isn't his family member. Someone who isn't his mommy. Leaving him somewhere where he'll be just one of many babies who needs care and attention.

My outpouring of emotion almost sounds silly to me, when I think about our situation. We're so lucky that my sister's college schedule will allow her to babysit Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (at least through January, and maybe even next semester, too, if she can work it out.) He'll be with a close family member who no doubt will adore him, in our home, three days a week. So I'm only looking for daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but even that is freaking me out.

I am having such a hard time figuring out what will work best for our family. In a way, I almost wish we were one of those families in which both parents absolutely HAD to work. Something that could make this a no-brainer. But we could probably work it out for me to stay home. My husband is a hard worker and makes a great salary, and he's poised to make even more career strides soon. If I stayed home, would we have to budget and be careful with our money? Yes. Would we be able to put 25% of our salaries away in savings and investments and college plans the way we do now? Of course not. Would I want Jason to have all the pressure of being the breadwinner for our family? No. But we could make it work.

The problem is, and the real issue that's eating away at me, is that I don't want to give up my career. I've worked long and hard to get to my position today. TV anchor jobs are few and far between, and I've been fortunate to achieve what I have at my young age. Plus, I'm very well-compensated for my work. Could we live without my salary? Probably. But my god, its such a great salary that I'd feel silly for just throwing it away. I worry that if I did quit working, even for a few years, that I wouldn't be able to get back in the game. I worry that the decisions I make now will make or break my career in the future. But then I think about my little boy, and all these things I just wrote make me feel very selfish and greedy.

What I would love is to be able to work part time. To continue anchoring, but just come in in the afternoons and do the newscasts, instead of being at the TV station all day long. To spend the mornings with my son, and the afternoons with my job. A balance that would let me have it all. I do plan to propose this to my bosses, but I don't know if they'll go for it. And if they don't... then I have some huge decisions to make.

I know this issue is one that every mother faces. I know I'm not the first to feel this way. But my visceral reaction to that daycare center yesterday makes me wonder how tough it is going to be to make my choice... when my baby is actually here cuddling in my arms, instead of just growing in my belly.

Jason and I have decided to take the "wait and see" approach. Just wait and see what our lives are like when the baby is born, wait until I can make my proposal to my boss during maternity leave, and wait to see what it really feels like to be a parent. Hopefully we'll have many good options, and the best path for our family will become clear for us. In the meantime, it feels good to pour my heart out here.

Thanks for listening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Kelly....I feel your pain, I really do. I didn't have the option of a family member caring for my daughter. I searched high and low for daycare that was a) trustworthy and caring/nurturing and b) affordable. While I made decent money, I didn't want to work to pay for daycare.

You sound like you have a much better head on your shoulders than I did. I ended up resigning from a position I worked for 4 years to get to stay home. I couldn't handle leaving her. Silly? Sure. Did it take some shoving of money around to make it work? Certainly. Is it harder than going to work each day? Yes.

The bottom line: you do what's best for you and your family. I hope your bosses accept your proposal to work part-time. If not and you're faced with a decision, go with your gut. Money isn't everything (as you know). From reading your blog for a while now, I get the feeling that you're very smart and level-headed and will end up doing what works best for you, Jason and the baby. It's a decision you make and one that you feel good about...regardless of what anyone thinks or says.'re a beautiful girl with a beautiful baby that'll be here before you know it :)

Blogger L Sass said...

Uffda... I have a friend with a 6-month old who is having the same debate right now. I have no experience in this situation, myself, but I think, if you have the option of not working, you really have to look at how much you love your job. The biggest factor in your son's life is going to be you--whether or not he spends some time in day care. So, the question is, will you feel fulfilled enough by your work to make it worth it?

You'll make the right decision for you guys, I'm certain of it.

Anonymous alyndabear said...

I'm not a momma, but I can understand how scary and sort of frustrating it must be. You've got some time to think about it more and see how things go, so I think you're making the right decision by waiting for little one to come first and seeing how it all goes.

It will all work out. :)

Blogger Frema said...

What a wonderfully well-written post. It sounds like you and your husband have come up with a great plan to go with the flow and see how you feel when you're on maternity leave. No matter what you do, that little boy of yours is obviously already well-loved, and that's what he needs the most. So see? You're doing fantastic.

Anonymous Jane said...

I am totally feeling your pain! When we interviewed daycares way back in January, I was fine. Even though I wanted to stay home. Now I want to stay home, but I don't want to pressure my husband... plus I want the security of two incomes... but I don't want to leave my baby! Since he/she is so active now... it's getting real. And I love every movement, I can't imagine seeing baby's face and having to let go!

Blogger Margarita said...

Oh my LORD! This post made me cry. And took me back to three years ago and 7 months ago when I had to leave my girls after my maternity leave was up. It sucks. There is no getting around that. You will cry and you will feel like the only and worst mother for leaving your baby in someone else's care whether it is your sister or a day care. But at the end of the day when you rush to see your baby after a day at work? And you get there and your baby is just as fine as he was when you left him that morning? You realize that it's okay. It's okay to have a career and be a mom at the same time. And once he gets older? And he becomes more active in his "class" at daycare? you will be amazed at the things he will learn and the drawings he does and the macaroni noodles glued to construction paper and it looks like a jacked up NOTHING to you but to HIM, it's a rainbow or a dog that he made JUST FOR HIS MOMMY. With all that being said, I hope that you can work something out with your boss to work part-time but if you can't, I hope you realize that you are not the world's worst mom for leaving your baby. (Man...I just blabbered on FOREVER!)

Blogger Erika said...

I definitely say "wait and see". Personally, I think if you feel now that you don't want to stop working, you should TRY IT and go back after maternity leave no matter how "wrong" it feels. Give it a month, and reevaluate. I hate to say it, but it does get easier to leave your precious son in a place where you are positive he's getting good care, he is interacting with other children and adults, and learns so much on a day to day basis.

And on maternity leave, you may learn than you would be the kind of mother who can play and teach all day just like a daycare provider would (I'm not that mother). I wouldn't say I find my job more fulfilling than motherhood, but I feel that with my personality and interests, Evan and I are both more well-adjusted and excited to see one another at 5pm.

Bottom line, and you will hear this over and over: "a happy mom is a happy baby" - whether that means staying at home, working, or a combination of the two, it's the #1 thing I've learned.

Blogger Isabel said...

I like what Erika said. She is a smart lady and has some great thoughts on this subject.

And I agree with what Erika said in terms of it getting easier. And no matter what happens, you have to do what's best for you and your little family. Good luck.

Blogger janet said...

I think Erika has it right, and since she went through it in the last year she must be an expert, right? :)

I think you just have to try it, learn as you go, and trust your gut. Hopefully with a little time and experience you will know what you want and it will get a little easier. No matter what you decide, you and Jason will be GREAT parents. Promise!

In the meantime, we are all sending lots of hugs and support to you!

Blogger Lizzy said...

This was a really thoughtful and thought-provoking post. And honest, too.

So many things will change, and change again, and change again and again in the first six months. It's so hard to make any decision now, and I think you have a great hold on the issues.

For me, I never ever intended to stay at home. I never imagined that I would WANT to. But my work situation wasn't too welcoming of me following Henry's birth--and THAT surprised me the most. They had seemed so supportive and interested throughout the pregnancy, and then suddenly, as a mother I was no longer valuable.

Anyhoo: sorry, projecting.

I think you are a smart woman and have a great partner in Jason. Once your son is born and you settle in to a routine, you'll find the right path that suits all the members of your beautiful family.

Blogger The Hilarazzi said...

Yup, been there done that. It's hard. Very hard. And even if you DO have family to watch him every single day and even if you did HAVE to work, it still wouldn't make it any easier. Take it from me, it wouldn't. If you do decide to go back to work, it does get easier, with time. Or, it did. I'm at a point now where I want to be at home again. It got easier for a while but now it's just as hard as it used to be.
Big hug and a big prayer that an easy decision will come your way.

Blogger Shauna said...

You are not alone. Many working mothers go through this. You've obviously thought this through well so you know what your options are. And after your baby is born, you'll be able to decide which option will work best for your family. Good luck!

Blogger CPA_Mom said...

We all go through this dilemma. I know that doesn't help much but we do. Unfortunately, I don't have the choice of work or no work, bills have to be paid. But if I did, I'd probably work anyway. I feel like you about my career. It's important to me, it is a big part of who I am. And I know as long as I am happy, my kids will be happy too. They have benefited so much from daycare, the good outways the bad. Hang in there, it WILL get easier.

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