Who Will I Be Without Her?

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.

I’m Becoming Me Again

When I started this blog as a Very new mom, I wondered if there would be times that the blog would go dark because I would be so busy with the baby that I wouldn’t have time to write. Well, my last post was August 20th, so clearly that has happened.

I wondered, as a Very new mom, what ‘too busy to write’ would look like. And I’m laughing now because ‘too busy’ has not been at all what I had pictured.

My child is an angel. I know- honestly, I’m sure Everyone at some point thinks that, but Sadie is a gem. She sleeps deep and often. She is alert, active and very independent. She has never been sick. She laughs and screams and makes hilarious growling noises but very, very rarely makes any noise that sounds like discomfort. She is So wonderful that we don’t wish to have a second because surely he or she will be Satan, Sadie is so wonderful in comparison.

All that said- I thought ‘busy’ would look like colic. Gripe water. Endless nights and tears and cries that blurred into days. Sleeplessness that draped everything in a fog of misery. But with Sadie- busy doesn’t look anything like that.

It looks like Sadie and I nestled deep into our cozy corner of the couch, snuggling with each other and staring into each other’s eyes. It looks like me dying laughing while she violently attacks her exersaucer toys with gleeful abandon. It looks like me doing a jig to country music in the kitchen while she stares up at me from her play mat on the kitchen floor; giggling already cuz even at 6 months, she knows her mama can’t dance worth a hill of beans.

In these moments, I am ‘too busy’ to pick up a phone call. ‘Too busy’ to break free from the cozy corner of the couch and do all the adult things I need to do, because snuggling takes priority over all else. When Ryan asks ‘What did you do today?’ ‘Snuggle’ is an appropriate answer. Imagine that! Instead of a work day, I get to stay at home and make 50% of my previous income so that I can get in a full 8 hours of snuggling.

It has been Awesome. I had No idea that I could love and be so IN love with my own baby. I wouldn’t change the last 6 months for the world.

But today I went to the dentist- a new dentist, in Airdrie- and I noticed that I was frazzled. I was haphazard and drove to the wrong clinic first and so was quite flustered when I had to put my lace-up winter boots back on again and hop back in the car and head to the real one. The front desk lady asked me if I had remembered to fill in the new patient forms she had emailed me almost a month ago. I hadn’t. Had I remembered to get my x-rays from my old dentist in Canmore like I said I would? Nope. As I was answering her questions, I noticed I was bumbling over my words and I think I even threw in a few nervous swear words. As in, ‘Shit, I’m sorry I forgot to do that!’ or some such. There was no one else in the waiting room, but really, shouldn’t I have mastered being able to speak full sentences without profanity by 33 years old??

I had to fill in some forms and I noticed that my writing was Terrible. It was the scrawl of someone who hadn’t had occasion to have to wield a writing instrument for the past 6 months. The forms asked my occupation. I wrote ‘N/A’. I’m planning on going back to work when my mat leave is up but I have no idea what that work will look like. I’ve thought about freelance editing, I’ve thought about social media consulting, I’ve thought about copywriting or starting my own small marketing business, but really- I don’t have a clue yet.

And I realized in that dentist’s office that snuggling for a whole day may no longer be all that I need. I might need to get back out there and interact with adult humans more regularly so that I don’t nervously swear at nice little office ladies.

It took the dentist 3 units of scaling to scrape all the accumulated gunk off my chompers. I explained that I haven’t bothered to see a dentist since I got pregnant. I explained that as a new mom, I don’t floss my teeth as often as I should. She smiled knowingly as a mother of boys aged 7 & 9 and said that she likes to floss her teeth while she watches her Netflix for 20 minutes at night while riding her stationary bike. And I thought ‘Oh Shit! If this is what I have to look forward to as a working mom, I need to start stepping up my game Now so that I’m not a complete clusterf*#k by the time I return to the working world.’

I finished at the dentist and drove to collect my small human from my amazing friends who had watched her for the appointment. They are sleep training champions, so I decided to start there. I begged them for their knowledge and jotted some notes down in my iPhone, resolving to start tonight, even if Ryan is out of town and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. If I can start becoming myself again by regaining some precious hours at the end of the day, then that is a good start.

I’m currently typing this out in my bed, propped up on my pillows, with the baby monitor beside me. My child, who is normally partying until 11:00 pm, is fast asleep and has (mostly) been that way since 7:00 pm. I am writing this blog and feeling so grateful to be able to hit the keyboard again. Emily likes to do that- I remember this now.

The next step is to find a hot yoga studio in Airdrie that offers childcare. I remember that Emily used to love hot yoga in the winter. After that- I’ll tackle my wedding planning. After that- I’ll decide what I’m going to do for back to work and how to get there.

For today- I have clean teeth, a sleeping child, and a really good feeling. I feel myself again.

XO, Em