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.

The Future is Female (but for today, I am afraid.)

I’ve had the phrase ‘the future is female’ rolling around in my head for days now. Sometimes when it pops into my head, I think of the Fast and Female run I just did in Canmore a few weeks back and I smile at all the grandmas and moms and girls running together. And sometimes, when I look at my baby girl in my arms and think ‘the future is female’, I want to cry.

I’ve wanted to write a blog post about the future being female for awhile now, but every time I sit down to type it, I fear being ‘too political’, and I stop.

And that right there is why I must write this post. Discomfort.

This post makes me uncomfortable.

And I hope it makes you uncomfortable too. 

When I found out I was pregnant this time around, I let myself get excited. We were five weeks and 4 days along when we found out, and I started telling Ryan right away that it was a girl.

When we saw her heart beating for the first time, I knew she was a girl.

I had told Ryan so many times that she was a girl that by the 20-week gender scan I was dying laughing, picturing the moment the ultrasound tech told us we were having a boy and Ryan had permission to tease me about it for the rest of our lives.

But, sure enough, at our 20 week scan, the tech looked at us and said ‘I do believe you’re right; it appears we’re looking at a girl!!’ And tears streamed joyously from my eyes. 

I always pictured myself being a boy mom, and here we were, after a termination that I chose to call Matthew, and a miscarriage that we were sure was a Henry, being told that we were going to be parents to a little girly. 

My heart grew a million sizes that day.
A daughter.
A girl.
A Woman, some day.

And once she came forth from my body, I called my mother- a mother of three daughters- and sobbed some sort of warbled voicemail into her machine.

The moment I held my daughter in my arms, I realized how much my mom had ever loved, and lost, in the raising of her three daughters.

I thanked her on the voicemail for managing to live her life with ‘three hearts beating outside of her body’.

That is what my Sadie Greta is to me. She is a piece of my heart that beats outside of my body, and I would do Anything to never see her in pain.

My mom is at my house now until late July, helping me parent this child while hubby is away at work, and as the days go by, we’ve been covering giant sections of family history.

And it strikes me, in a lot of our family history, that women must bear Great burdens.

In our family history tales thus far, we’ve covered domestic violence. Physical abuse. Sexual abuse. Emotional abuse. Manipulation. Deceit. Extramarital affairs. Financial control. Abandonment. Sacrifice. Alcoholism. A whole host of nasty things that various women in my family history have had to live with, or die from.

They are stories that I know scraps of, as I have collected bits and pieces of them over the years in my own transition into womanhood, but to hold my baby girl in my arms, and hear them myself as a mother, is Quite different.

This morning’s story time involved the tale of one of my mom’s closest coming of age gal pals being savagely raped and murdered in her boyfriend’s apartment while he was away on tour with his band.

Her crime? Being a girl, and alone, in their apartment.

These stories are not new to me, nor are they uncommon. 

I know the statistics, that 1 in every 3 North American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. And I can only estimate that with rapes that never get reported, that figure is much more like 1 in every 2.

And I look down at my sweet, sweet baby girl, and I think ‘which one of the coin toss will you be?’. And I know that is a friggin Awful thought to have in your head, and trust me, that thought doesn’t live there all the time and take up any more space than it needs to- but it is there.

Because, by birth right, I have had a girl, in North America. And I worry for her.

She was born in a great country, to a loving family, and she undoubtedly has a wonderful future ahead of her, but she also has some mighty steep hurdles to tackle.

At the time that I write this, the stats are:

That Sadie has a in 1 in 3 chance of getting sexually assaulted in her lifetime (http://sacha.ca/resources/statistics)

That for every $1.00 a Canadian man makes, she will make $0.74. (http://www.payequity.gov.on.ca/en/GWG/Pages/what_is_GWG.aspx)

That she will have only a 10 per cent chance of becoming one of the top executives of a Canadian company, and only a 4 per cent chance of ever becoming one of Canada’s CEOs. (https://www.google.ca/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/4807359/female-ceo-wage-gap/amp/)

Those are just her absolute stats, the controls, if you will- but god forbid these following stats ever need apply to her as well:

Every 6 days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Over 80% of police-reported intimate partner homicides are women. On any given night in Canada, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn’t safe at home. On any given night, about 300 women and children are turned away because shelters are already full. (https://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/gender-based-violence/)

As I hold my sweet baby girl in my arms, and I listen to my strong warrior mama tell me the tales of the women who have come before me, I trust that Sadie will beat these odds. I trust that she will be a trailblazer, smart as a whip, fearless, loving and confident. 

I know that she is the future, and that the future is female, but a small part of me grieves for her nonetheless. For the extra obstacles she faces simply because she was born a girl. And I am begging you, my boy mom friends that are reading this- please, Please, keep doing your part to raise strong boys. Strong, loving, fearless, confident boys that can help level these crappy stats into rubble. 

The future is in our hands.

XO, Em

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