Another chapter in the working mom dilemma.

I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the past two weeks as I have begun the search for daycare for my nine-month-old son. You see, I have been a work-at-home mom for almost a year now and it was the greatest thing to spend so much time bonding with my son.  But since I am going to be taking on some large scale projects after the new year, the time has come to put my baby boy in daycare.  I do not want to sound gender-biased or anything, but I thought it would be far easier to place a boy in daycare than a little girl.  Boys are much more active and rough and tough and want to play independently from their mamas.  Right?  But, this little boy is so sweet and loving (and so attached to his mama, I must say), that this transition has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be.

This is not a new thing in the story of a working mother’s life.  In fact, it is but a small chapter and I pretty much know how this part of the saga will go.  After all, we’ve been through this with my daughter as she has been through every form of care from nannies, to home-based daycare, to large franchise daycare centers.  And she is a rock star.  I know my son will excel just like her and will remain in some type of daycare until he’s off to Kindergarten someday.  He will love socializing with other kids; forming a bond with his caregivers; and growing and learning in his own world.  But why is it still so tough for me to let go?  When I was a first-time mom, I felt like I would slowly lose my mind if I didn’t go back to work.  Not so much this time. I went through a lot to have him, and it’s going to be tough to hand him over to someone else’s hands.

As I filled out the standard health assessment forms to officially enroll the baby in daycare, I was feeling a little bit (ok maybe a lot) of emotion at the loss of my unlimited time and freedom with my boy.  I know I will soon be saying good-bye to a simpler life and instead replacing it with one of chaos and unpredictability.  But that’s what makes life interesting, right?  For the past few weeks my mind has been racing to find the right solution in my quest to find work-life balance.  Fortunately, I have a fantastic business partner who is a rock star mother of three that will share the responsibility of these projects with me.  We have worked out a scenario that will hopefully enable us to accomplish our work goals and still be able to work a few days from home so that we can spend more time with our kids, while doing work that we love.  Yet I am still plagued by cold feet.  What if things don’t work out as we planned?  Life has a way of doing that.

But here is what really put things in perspective for me.  Over the weekend, my husband visited his 88-year-old grandmother who was sick in the hospital. The kids and I stayed behind because we all had head colds and didn’t want to risk getting her sicker.  Grandma Rose asked how I was doing and if I was going to start work outside of the home again. My husband told her the story.  He told me she was rooting for me and hoping that I would go back to work because of my education and experience.  She wanted me to have all the opportunities she never had.  Grandma Rose stayed home to raise all five of her children, eventually finding work in a physician’s office as an administrator after the kids had grown up.  From what I have heard from other family members, and what I have witnessed myself after all these years, is that grandma is an extremely brilliant and gifted woman.  She enrolled in college at an age when most of us would love to retire, and finally earned her college degree at the tender age of 63.  To this day, even on her sick bed, Grandma Rose had wished for a life where she could have been a working mother.  When my husband told me what she said, I felt better and so much weight lifted from my shoulders. I so value the wisdom of that generation.  I also think of my father, who passed away 10 years ago, but worked so hard for me and my sister so we could earn a degree and pursue anything our hearts’ desired.  I want that so much for MY kids.  I need to be a living example that you can accomplish great things with the love and support of family.  So, thanks Grandma Rose, you have made this working mom feel so supported and validated in her decisions!

As I dropped my son off at daycare the other day to begin transitioning one day a week, it went as well as anyone could have hoped.  No tears, just happy waves good-bye while he crawled off to go play with a bunch of little boys his age.  I walked out feeling relieved, happy, and ready to be productive.  Pick-up was a different story.  My son seemed a little off – he had puffy, red eyes from crying because I didn’t leave enough milk – and probably because he missed me.  I missed him too.  We went into a quiet room where I sat and fed and snuggled him for about ten minutes.  All I could think to myself is that this is not going to be easy, but we’ll figure it out and rely on faith and the promise based on experience that a new chapter in our lives will soon unfold and we’ll be just fine.

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