All my life I've wanted to be a mom. I was the little girl who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up said, "A mom." And for a while now, that had changed to "A stay-at-home mom." It's just something I've felt I was meant to do.
I've always had a way with kids, hence being an elementary art teacher. I love spending time with kids, and adore going to work and seeing the wonder that comes with children experiencing mixing colors and drawing better than they thought they could and using their great big imaginations. And although I get insanely nervous, tunnel-vision-y, heart-pound-y, armpit-sweat-y when talking (or even thinking of talking) in front of adults, I've never been nervous in front of a class of kids. It's so comfortable to be the leader in a classroom, directing twenty-something little bodies to draw a line like this and to tear the paper like that. I kind of miss it, now that I've been out since Thanksgiving. I've gone back to school twice to introduce (read: show off) Adelaide, and I enjoy seeing my students and coworkers.
But as much as I love it, part of me doesn't want to go back. I always thought that there'd be a chance I could stay home, that somehow we could make it swing. But after doing the math, there's NO way finances are going to allow it. Not even if I got a part time job. It's not like we're spending out of our means: we've cut so many of our little expenses, we don't have extra services we're paying for, we're judicious with electricity (don't even own a dryer!), we don't eat out that often, and I coupon like crazy (though, after watching Extreme Coupons, I have a ways to go!). The fact is, we just can't afford it.
And that sucks.
I've started the process of finding day care for Adelaide. We can't afford the places we want, with the curriculum and the cameras so we could check in on her. The places that don't seem visually cluttered and are really clean, and have a lower than required ratio. And I don't think we could afford an in-home nanny, because that'd be just as expensive. We have no family close enough that could watch her.
The places we can afford (which, depressingly, would still be the rest of my paycheck after bills) are nice enough, but they don't move me in quite the same way. We'll probably end up taking her to a place that's 7 minutes from my work. It's convenient, in our price range, and the people are nice. It's small, with only about 30 kids. But it has a lot of toys, seems cluttered, isn't the crisp-clean tidiest. I know I spoiled my expectations by visiting the nice place 2 minutes from home first. I suppose the most important part of the day care I choose is how nice and loving the caretakers are. And also that they respect our values (vegetarianism, cloth diapering, etc.)... both which this center does.
But really, I'm just imposing worry on these places for another reason... I guess the main thing I worry about is how attached Adelaide is to me. She goes through stages where she won't even let Kevin (her dad) hold her without her screaming her head off. We've tried to let him hold her until she calms down, with me nearby using my sing-songy voice, just to get her used to someone else, and that still doesn't work. She gets to the point where it's hard for her to breathe and she's all drooly and raspy and red and won't even take the pacifier to calm down. Finally I take her, because making her cry that hard for so long just doesn't feel right. And she pretty much settles right down, although she's still upset.
This happened last night, and for the rest of the night she was a mess. Touchy, fussy, upset. And after nursing her to sleep and leaving her in our big ole bed, I wrapped up in Kevin's arms and cried my eyes out. I pretty much resembled Adelaide: splotchy, red, and bubbly with snot. I am SO worried that she will be like that when I drop her off at daycare, without mommy nearby to swoop her up when she gets upset or scared or tired. And that there will be 4 other babies that this teacher will have to take of, so Adelaide probably won't be able to spend the day in her arms. She will have to learn to be independent, which I realize is a good thing. I know she will adjust, but who knows how long that will take. I worry about her emotional balance, her security, her trust. I want her to develop at her own pace, when she's comfortable doing so... not because she has to because mommy has to work.
She will be 7 1/2 months in August when we start daycare (when the new school year starts). She will be twice as old as she is now, and I know there's no way for me to project who she will be then. How much she will mature, grow, and branch out socially. But right now, I'm stressed to the max thinking about the transition... for both of us. I've started a list of things I can do as the time gets near to hopefully help the transition, which I'll share when the time comes.
As for now, I am going to love on my daughter like there's no tomorrow. And slowly, we will help her learn that mommy and daddy will always be there at the end of the day to squeeze the love into her and kiss her all over her little face (and feet and hands and tummy and neck....). And I will try to embrace the idea that I have to go back to work, and that eventually, it will be alright. Right?
Any mommies out there want to share advice? Please? I would love all tips and tricks on dealing with this transition: what I can do now, and what I can do in August.