For some women, heading back to work is a choice. For others, it's a harsh reality. For those who wish nothing more than the opportunity to stay home and care for their children, the idea of handing over their newest addition to someone else is just plain terrifying.
After ten difficult but happy months of bringing my daughter to work with me, her newfound mobility and ever increasing need for attention have brought us to the next (and, for me, depressing) phase of her short life: childcare. Keep in mind that while I'm sure there are many childcare facilities that are absolutely wonderful, great for kids, etc., the fact remains: I just don't want to hand her over to someone else. Period.
|Leaving your child behind may feel|
like sentencing her to hard time.
What's a mom to do? How do you handle that heart-breaking moment when your baby reaches for you with tears in her eyes and all you can do is fight back your own and wave bye-bye?
You're flooded with questions, worries, and guilt. Why did she have to cry? Why didn't she cry? Will I make it out of the building before the tears hit? Why isn't my commute from daycare to the office longer? Is she safe? Are they playing with her enough? Is she getting enough to eat? Are they changing her enough? Am I a terrible mom for leaving her? What if she feels abandoned?
While some kids have a harder time adjusting than others, I have to believe that the daycare drop-off is more painful for the mom. They might cry for a few minutes before a new toy or curious tot attracts their attention, but it's the guilt-ridden mama who's weeping into her arm in the office bathroom.
If you're like me, being a stay-at-home mom is the ultimate goal, but it can feel simultaneously like the only natural choice and a pipe dream. Being a reluctantly working mom is not only hard because you're away from your child all day, but also because you're constantly reminded that you just can't be where you want. In that regard, it's sometimes the "why" guilt that hits the hardest.
Why did I push to buy a house? Why didn't we just stay in an apartment? Why did I get that more expensive car? Why didn't we plan for this? Why did I make that big purchase? Why didn't we put ourselves in a better financial position?
So what are the answers? How do you cope with the heartache? I could tell you to remember that the social interaction is healthy for your child. I could remind you that you're still number one in those big blue eyes. I could tell you to go easy on yourself - if there was any other choice you would have made it.
I could offer up some helpful advice, but the truth is I'm wading through that frightening first week. We'll just have to wait until I make it to the other side before I can share what I've learned (and what has actually helped). Either that, or I'll write to say that Publishers Clearing House has finally found me and I've snatched up my little girl faster than you can sneeze. Stay tuned for the ending.
What about you? How did you cope with leaving your child for the first time?