Mom & Me, 1978
My mom stayed home with me until I went off to kindergarten, then she became an after school aide at my elementary school so she could get out of the house for a while during the day and still be home with me in the evenings. She took on a full-time job at a day care center when I started junior high and my dad and I were left to fend for ourselves most nights. This circumstance allowed my dad and I to became very close, but being raised by my father during my formative years had some side effects. I developed “boyish” qualities of independence and a stiff upper lip in the face of heart-aches (I also learned to cook from my father whose repertoire consisted of lots of bbq, microwave dinners and ordering take-out). I also always expected to be a working mom myself.
Being a stay-at-home mom never even crossed my mind. I made it through my entire pregnancy oblivious to the feelings that were slowly brewing within. The mother in me was hit with a change of heart the minute I first held Kaylee in my arms. Once she was born I wanted nothing more than to be with her. Not in an obsessive everything else takes a backseat way. More of a can’t-wait-to-see-what-she-does-next-and-gosh-she-smells-so-yummy kinda way.
I spent a lot of my time away from work trying to figure out a way to stay home with her…unfortunately winning the lottery didn’t work out and there are still some things I’d like to accomplish before I throw in the towel on my current job (like getting my damn degree already) since being independently wealthy doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.
That brings us to yesterday, my first day back at work.
Nine weeks seemed like ample time on paper when I applied for my leave. Somehow that time slipped away faster than I could have ever imagined. I missed her terribly all day, but I didn’t cry (thanks, dad). I’m ok with being away from her at the moment. I’ve worked out an arrangement that will delay putting Kaylee in daycare for the next 3 months thanks to my very understanding boss who is allowing me to use vacation time to leave early 3 days a week. Working at the same place, on different shifts, along with some flexibility in our hours allows us to trade her off in the afternoons. Scott brings her in to work with him and I take her home with me. It’s an odd arrangement, and means less time together for Scott and I, but we get to keep Kaylee out of daycare a bit longer this way which is great for all of us. Knowing she’s with her daddy makes it so much easier to leave her.
I’m sure when her first day at daycare inevitably arrives I’ll shed a few tears. I will mourn for the fact that I can’t stay home with her because, like many families, we need two incomes to support the life we want to give our child. It’s very difficult for me to sacrifice spending time with her now in order to provide for her future. But, there are things that I want for her that I can’t make happen without the extra income, like good healthcare and an opportunity to go to college without being over her head in debt when she graduates. I’m sure this is just the first of many difficult trade-offs we’ll make as parents. Fortunately she’s too little to remember and hopefully she will appreciate what we are doing for her when she is old enough to understand.
Happily, if I buckle down and finish my degree I’ll be able to start teaching full-time when Kaylee is ready for kindergarten. Then I’ll have the best of both worlds – the ability to have a meaningful career and the flexibility to be home with her after school and over summer break.