Barring any truly unforeseen circumstances, I'll be going back to work next June after squeezing every last possible drop out of my maternity leave.
Let's just get this out of the way in the beginning: I love the idea of being a stay-at-home mom, and it irks me when others have less than positive things to say about them. I was raised by one, after all! (Side note: I also can't stand when stay-at-home moms criticize women who return to work. Let's stop with the judging, yinz! Each woman makes the best choice for her family and what she chooses is really none of your business or concern, period, end of story).
Ahem, anyway. Even though it's none of your business, I'm still sharing.
In my ideal world, say, if I won the lottery tomorrow -- even just a smaller one, not the Mega Millions, I'm not picky -- I'd stay home once Baby enters the picture. But when Kyle and I decided we were ready for kids, we made that decision knowing that we probably weren't yet ready for life on one income. We could scrape by, yes. But we couldn't save much for our next house or college. We would be stretched thin, and that was a little scary. And we didn't want to wait the three, four, or five years it might have taken until we had a comfortable cushion.
It was still a really hard decision to make, especially after I actually got pregnant and it was no longer a hypothetical choice. I had several good, long cries about it (I'm sure I'll have a few more in the future too). The worst was when we actually toured the daycare I knew we'd choose. It felt so real then, the idea of dropping our baby off for a big part of the day. I was weepy throughout lunch afterward, which I'm certain our waiter really enjoyed. This is never an easy thing to consider.
But now that our course is set, I've started seeing several good things about it too. There are always trade-offs to any situation, and I can see the positives alongside the negatives now. Things like earlier socialization for Baby, more adult interaction and better future career prospects for me, and obviously, less of a strain on our finances. We'll have an easier time saving for braces. We'll be able to buy our "forever home" sooner. Should one of us lose our job, it would be awful, but not devastating -- there's an extra leg to stand on.
And so, last week we put down a deposit for daycare.
To be honest, we only seriously looked at one. That's supposed to be a huge no-no when considering child care, but I knew even before the positive pregnancy test that it's the one we would use. It's the only one that makes the idea of dropping our baby off in the morning okay.
It's the daycare in my office building.
Despite me working wayyyy up among the clouds in our skyscraper, Baby could not be physically closer with any other working-mama option. The daycare has an open-door policy, where parents are free to come in throughout the day (we saw several during our hour-long tour). There are two rooms for nursing, which will be awesome. I am really, really happy that we'll be close.
Also -- and this could be a fluke -- but when we toured this daycare, the babies looked happy. Several tiny little girls positively beamed at Kyle, and for a guy whose own niece was slightly afraid of him as a wee one, this was majorly flattering. There was a good ratio of kids-to-caregivers, and the infants were sitting in their Bumpos, sleeping in their cribs, practicing their crawling, and generally just looking nice and content. The staff was friendly, warm, and eager to answer our questions. Most had been at the center for several years. I had a good feeling walking through the halls.
That good feeling still fights a hard battle against my impending separation anxiety almost every day. Honestly, it could be the very best daycare in the world, and I'd still have mixed feelings about it. But now that Baby's arrival is getting a little closer, I've realized that I might have had mixed feelings about staying at home too. And by "mixed feelings," I mean "total panic about buying Christmas presents."
And so, that is our plan for now. Soak up maternity leave, then bring Baby along into the big city next summer. And kiss working lunch breaks goodbye, because I'll be busy then too, thank you very much.
She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along. [Margaret Culkin Banning]