Sunday, May 20, 2007

The working mom's dilemma

Another "borrowed" question from Maya's Mom...

I am so worried!! Okay a lot worried!! I have two interviews for jobs tomorrow and Tuesday! I know that I will get either job...I just am not sure I want to work so many hours and be away from my son for so long and not spend the quality time I need to with him!! I have been soo lucky thus far for being home with Samuel for so long...almost 8 months. The thing is, is that I have to get a job!! We have to make ends meet...I just don't want to be away from my son and I am going to have to!!!
Make me feel better about this...

I struggled with this back when C was an infant. Somewhere around week 8 of my 14 week maternity leave I became convinced that I simply couldn't go back to work. She was my sweet precious infant. I couldn't fathom letting her out of my sight, let alone trusting someone else to watch her all day long. Sometime around then my husband dragged me to San Francisco for the afternoon to see Les Miserables. I had a conniption at the thought of leaving C with her grandparents for a whole 5 hours. And then, ahem, I had a blast and I discovered I was fine leaving her with someone else. (I know, I'm a horrible mom.) But I still felt horrible about sending her to daycare which left me to figure out where the problem really resided.
I chatted for hours with a coworker friend. I told her about all of my hang-ups, all of my worries, and all of my anxieties. She listened patiently to my ramblings. I'll admit she was working with the ulterior motive of making sure I came back to work, but she still managed to be supportive while not letting me talk myself into quitting my job and staying home full time. At the end of our chat, as she opened her car door she turned to me and said "You're her mother, she'll always love you best."
I knew right then that she'd put her finger on my problem. For 14 weeks I was C's world. M went back to work after two weeks and then it was just the two of us. We struggled with breastfeeding, we found a rhythm that worked for us, and we got to know each other in a way that I never thought possible. But all of a sudden I was supposed to get dressed up and drop her off at a stranger's home every day! My friend was right, I was pretty sure that my 3 month old wasn't going to love me best any more, in fact I was pretty worried she'd forget all about me.
I won't lie to you, it was rough at first. I was fine while I was at work, but when I'd pick her up my heart would break. She'd smile at me, clearly happy to see me, and I'd hear about everything I'd missed during the day. She rolled over for the first time that first week at daycare and I almost cried when they told me. But after those first bumps in our road I realized that we were OK. C thrived and she didn't forget me. Instead the time we spent apart made our time together more special.
I found myself focusing more when we were together, concentrating harder on her and less on everything else going on around us. The bottles I fed her were more special, the cuddles we shared more meaningful, and her giggles became priceless. My mood would rise the instant I pulled into the driveway at daycare and keep rising as I walked into the main room. Each and every time her face lit up when she saw me I was reminded that she still loved me and that everything was fine. Because our time together was so limited I made sure that I didn't waste a precious minute. In the end I think I spent more quality time with her after she started daycare than when we were home together all day.
C is now two and I'm thrilled about the choice we made. I fully believe that it was the right thing for our family. She's gotten more than I ever hoped out of daycare, and I've been able to work and find a balance that works for me. I was lucky enough to be able to negotiate with my employers for a schedule that worked for us. For months I worked from home on Mondays and took C in with me on Fridays. When she got to be too active I completely stopped working on Mondays and sent her to daycare Tuesdays to Fridays. That's still our schedule today.
My situation worked for us, I'm not saying it would for you. However I wanted to show you that you can, and you will , find a solution that works for you. Stay true to yourself and don't ignore what you are feeling. Don't think of this as the be all, end all way things have to be, give yourself a time line. If you go to your interviews thinking that you'll try it for a month and then re-evaluate to see how you are all doing, it will be much easier to handle than if you think of this as being the way things will be until your baby goes to Kindergarten. Anyone can handle anything for a month! At the end of that time, take stock, really ask yourself how things are going, then decide if things have to change or if you can go another month. In no time you'll have figured out what works best for you and your family.
blog comments powered by Disqus