Thursday, January 27, 2011

Work/Home Balance--Is There Such a Thing?

I've officially been at work, away from my daughter longer than I was at home with her during my maternity leave. I'd be lying if I were to say it's gotten much easier.

Every morning when I have to kiss her goodbye, it's still ridiculously hard. It breaks my heart even more now when she knows I'm grabbing my purse--not our diaper bag--and I'm leaving without her.

I try my best now to leave when she's distracted or still sleeping; because when she's awake and aware she'll hold her arms out for me and cry.

Daily I'm submerged in feelings of guilt for not being there for her, and paranoia about missing a first. Missing her crawl for the first time, the first time she says "mama" or just being there for her daily developments.

I can't say how grateful I am though for the fact that she's with the best caregiver in the world. Seeing her with her dad, and how close they've gotten makes my heart melt. When I come home she practically jumps into my arms and is all smiles. She's so happy when we're all home and close together and it makes me so grateful she has two parents who love each other and love her. Sadly, that's not the case for everyone. But I'm still a little jealous of that bond I see they have, and of the time he gets with her.

On my day off this week, Little J and I went out for yoga, then we went to lunch and shopping with a friend. She was by my side or in her carrier that entire day and I had the most amazing time. I would be standing in an isle at a craft store and notice her look up at me from her wrap and smile. I'd lean over to kiss her nose and she'd laugh. The simplest moment made me want to stop time and stay right there with her forever. I wished I could I had more moments like these. Like I was missing moments like these every day I leave her for the grind.

We started the daycare search this week and it's been exhausting. It's so hard looking for someone to care for my daughter aside from my husband and I, and trusting them with her. Luckily, we won't need to enroll her for another six or seven months, which by then I think she'll be ready to learn and ready for interaction with other kids her age, but it's still so hard.

Right now I can call home and video chat with her via iPhone. At first she didn't know what to think of it, and she'd grab my husband's phone, reaching for me, then she'd start crying when she realized I couldn't pick her up. Now she'll usually smile and talk to me for a little bit, still try to grab the phone, but I think she's realized iPhones don't have arms. This is just one of the experiences I'll miss once she starts daycare. That, and visiting home during my lunch break with a ready-made lunch and grinning baby ready to play.

I started my search by asking a friend I work with her recommendations. She recently did a series on childcare and had some great links to share with me about searching for accredited programs. I started there.

I found one that is close to my job--less than a mile away--and scheduled a tour. When I walked in worked to hold back tears. It's wasn't the facility or what I saw that made me feel bad but the thought of her being in daycare.

I looked in the infant room even though she will be over a year once she starts, but paid most attention to the sunbeam room, for 12-18 month olds since that's where she'd be. They had a glider chair for nursing moms who want to drop in and feed their baby. That made me feel good, even though I'm not sure I'll nurse her past a year. They also allow cloth diapers, which is a big plus, and the biggest positive is how close it is to my job. But the room was so small. Like insanely small. I worked in daycare for years and was worked in rooms four times as big for half as many one-year-olds. That was a huge setback, and almost enough for me to cross them off my list.

I have started looking for other schools but I'm trying not to let the glitz and glam overshadow the accreditation which is really one of my top priorities right now. That and proximity. But there's a huge shortage of them between my house and my job, and because of this, ones that are close--at least the good ones--are extremely expensive.

I'm hoping to just enroll her part time since I work Wednesday through Sunday, I'll still have Mondays and Tuesdays off to spend with her, and her dad will still be with her on the weekends for the most part. Our situation could be so much worse but sometimes I wish I could see what it's like in another's shoes.

Even after my husband begins his new job, I can't imagine leaving mine. I'm not used to not working, not bringing in some kind of income, and feeling like I can support myself if need be. But oh it would be so nice to spend afternoons at play dates, and weekends at birthday parties. It would be nice to feel like a full time mom, submerge myself into cooking literature, sewing her dresses, making her bows, and perfect a new, domesticated me. But then I'd feel guilty every time I bought something. And fun outings I like to do now on my days off would be limited to free things--Yoga would be out. And everything that makes me ME as I know myself would be different. Everything I've worked toward almost my entire life would be put on hold indefinitely to pursue a much less lucrative, but more rewarding full-time career.

I love my job, love my career, what I do every day, and I'm happier than I've even been at work, but my heart and passion gets left at home with my little girl.

It's hard finding a balance. I'm not sure I ever will.