A mama friend of mine and I have been talking recently about our mat leaves ending soon and having to find childcare for our firstborns. It has been so comforting to know that she too has banned words like ‘dayhome’ and ‘childcare’ and ‘sweetie, you know you’re going to have to talk about this eventually, right?’ from her home as well.
I’ve been so reluctant to even think about someone else getting to care for Sadie while I earn money elsewhere that for at least two months, when Ryan would ask what I was thinking for back to work plans, I just wouldn’t answer him. We’d be full swing in the middle of a conversation and he would ask the dreaded question and I would just go mute. The first few times, he thought I couldn’t hear him and would ask the question again. When he realized I was going selectively mute just to dodge the question, he was flabbergasted.
But that’s how big of a hurdle it was in my mind. Prior to this month, it’s been inconceivable to me that this amazing, relaxing, free-time and bonding-filled year known as mat leave must eventually come to an end.
I finally started dipping my toes in the childcare waters last month by leaving Sadie for an hour at a time at the childcare centre in my gym. From the very first time I dropped her off, she’s never cried, never so much as looked for me, and the ladies always report that she’s a dream. As I suspected- it’s me that’s the mess about it, not her!
With Sadie just turning 9 months, I’ve been feeling the pressure to get my job and childcare ducks in a row. So last Friday, Ryan and I booked Sadie for a tour at a big-box daycare that’s quite popular in Airdrie. We were pretty impressed with the environments and services they had to offer, but more importantly, we got to watch Sadie in there and she Loved it. All the kids at the centre, no matter their ages, fell in love with her. They were petting her hair and pointing at her and saying ‘Baby! Baby!’
One classroom was separated from another by a glass wall, and several of the children on the other side of the glass where Sadie was crawling around were banging on the glass, blowing kisses and trying to get her to high five them through the glass. She Ate It Up!! I left that centre realizing that as much as I love having Sadie here at home under my care, the truth is, I have a super-active and super-social child. Developmentally, I think she’s ready for more than just me, Ryan and Mika to stimulate her brain.
On Sunday, we toured a private dayhome recommended to me by a woman on the Airdrie Mom’s FB group. She had put her firstborn in a big-box daycare and he really struggled with the transition. She took him out of there after two months of struggles and put him in this lady’s daycare. Now he runs as fast as he can to get inside when she drops him off. She spoke glowingly of the dayhome provider, DeeDee (not her real name). When we arrived at DeeDee’s home on Sunday, I had just finished unbuckling Sadie’s car seat straps when whoosh- up she went into DeeDee’s loving arms. DeeDee picked her right up with no hesitation and started lovingly speaking to her. I was pretty much sold right then and there.
We did the tour, learned the schedule, menu, prices etc. and when we walked out to our car, I said to Ryan ‘We go here. This is our dayhome now.’ That whole day and night, I felt So great with my decision and was amazed at how unfazed I was about it all.
The next morning, Ryan left at 5 am for work and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I laid in our bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about how everything was going to change soon, and in such short time.
I wondered where I’m going to find work. Are they going to like me? Am I going to be too much of myself again? Sometimes people find me too much, and does that mean I have to find a workplace that embraces my personality, or does mean that I need to learn to curb my muchiness?
Who will I be without her?? Who am I, when I’m not just being Sadie’s Mom all day? What does Emily even do or like or be anymore?
Will Sadie transition well to dayhome? She has to go down to only one nap a day… will she just cry and cry all morning because she’s tired? Will I get any time with her at all? By the time I’m done my workday, it’s dinner, bath, books, bed. That’s not enough time. Will I find a job by the time my mat leave runs out in April? Will I find a job that pays enough money to carry our current budget? Is leaving her somewhere else worth it??
I lay there questioning like that for about an hour, until I realized that I had nervously chewed the entire insides of both my lips off, and that I was stuck in an anxiety spiral that was going nowhere.
That’s the misfortune of being human. We have the capacity to exist in the now, and also to question all of our past, and our future.
I had to force myself to deep breathe and realize that I still have two glorious full months with her ahead of me. I had to look around my bedroom and realize that my bed was still the same, my baby was still sleeping in her crib down the hall, my dog was curled up at my feet, Ryan had just left for work… everything was the Exact same as it had been before my anxiety spiral. It was just my mindset that had changed. That helped a Lot to calm me down and put me back in the present.
Later in the day, I told a friend with a toddler in a dayhome about my little freak-out and she laughed knowingly and said ‘it goes with the territory.’ I loved that! Like motherhood is a place. Or motherhood is many places, and there’s always a mom that has been in the exact same spot you’re currently standing in and she can tell you how she coped.
So that’s where I am now. I am so happy I found a dayhome where I trust that Sadie will thrive and be loved in. I am incredibly nervous about looking for new work in a new town, and I am pre-sad about all the great stretches of time that I will no longer have with my girl at home full time.
I am okay, and not okay, all at the same time.