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.

Mat Leave Musings

I’ve had so many blog titles bopping around my brain for the past few weeks and no time to do anything about them. So on this fortunate night when my 8-month old daughter took all of TWO minutes BY HERSELF to pass out in her crib, I think this post will be an amalgamation of the various working titles I’ve had flying around my head lately. Here they are:

“Am I Addicted To My Daughter? (Is that a thing? If it is, I’m pretty sure I am)”

“Are These My Tits Or Did Someone Replace Them With Pancake Batter?”

“What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?” a.k.a. “Fuck: Mat Leave Is Almost Over”

and lastly “OMG I Wanna Cry, She’s Almost A Year Old”

Let’s start with that last one. Prior to becoming a mother, I used to Hate when women said ‘Oh, little so and so is just growing up so fast. Oh little so and so, please stop growing. Sob.’ It drove me nuts because I was like, well why on earth did you have children then?! The alternative to not growing up and getting older is Death. Are you wishing death upon your children?? So let me be clear, I still think that statement is stupid, and I will not wish ever that Sadie stops growing. However- I do get the sentiment. Now that I’m a mother myself, I really, really do.

As of this Friday, Sadie has become her own person, independent of my womb for 8 months now. I have had eight months of watching her grow out of her newborn clothes and into all sorts of mischief and wobbly-legged attempts at bipedalism. Since she’s become more ambulatory, she now wiggles out of my desperate grasp more often than not, and 100% of the time that I have her on the diaper change table.

I chose to make a baby in the hopes that it would become its own independent person, and that experiment is all coming along quite nicely. But I’m realizing now that there are Way more months on the side of the maternity clock that has already passed by, and that our side only has four more months left on it. With the strides she’s making now, I know that those remaining four months will feel more like four hours. I have an acute feeling now that Every Moment with her matters, and that these days of just the two of us spending every minute of it together are numbered.

Hence why I lied to my friends the other weekend, and then spent the following week questioning if I was addicted to my child. If you’re one of the friends I lied to and you’re reading this- I apologize in advance.

There was a Christmas party. One of my babeliest friends was hosting it and it was going to be a blast. Three other amazingly hilarious, energetic, fun-times friends that I love were going to be there too. Only problem was- it was on a Sunday night, from 6-10 pm, and Ryan was away on business. We’re very limited for babysitters, so I didn’t think I could make it. But at 4 pm on Sunday, my friend got back to me and said ‘Sure, bring Sadie by. We can take her no problem.’

By that point, Sades and I were just leaving Superstore in Airdrie and I had already envisioned a romantic night ahead of us snuggling together on the couch, eating popcorn and watching House. So I lied.

I said that I couldn’t find a sitter and told the girls to have a great time and to send me pictures of what I missed. When I took Sadie out of the car seat after our drive home, I removed her little woolly pink winter hat, pulled her into a giant squeeze on the staircase and just inhaled her little baby scent. I drank all of her in and I thought “Yes! This is worth staying home for!”

In the coming days, I began to wonder if these events meant that I had an unhealthy fixation with my child. So I ran this story by a few of my Mom friends (one of whom was at the party and I had lied to), and the consensus (at least from those friends) was No. One said “They’re your child forever, but only your baby for a little while.” And the friend I had lied to said “I actually think it’s so beautiful that you lied to us so that you could spend more time with your child.” So I took their words for it, but if you want to tell me there’s something wrong with me, I’m all ears!

The last two working titles, floppy tits and returning to work, I’ll have to leave for another time, as 11:00 pm now feels like 3:00 am and I can barely keep my eyes open.

XO, Em