My decision to become a stay-at-home-mom began when I found out that I was pregnant. I was so excited to finally become a mother, but that excitement was quickly replaced with a wave of dread. Not of having a baby, but that one day, in the very near future, I would have to leave my precious new child in the care of someone who was a complete stranger to me. My stomach sank and I tried to push the thought of daycare from my mind, at least for a little while longer. But throughout my entire pregnancy, the thought of daycare loomed like a dark, scary cloud.
My pregnancy was relatively easy. I had minimal morning sickness and was only really tired during my first trimester. From the first positive pregnancy test to seeing my little peanut for the first time on the sonogram machine, I had so much to be grateful and excited about. And I was, but it was always a little tainted by the fact that one day I would have to leave my little one in daycare. I know it sounds a bit dramatic, but that’s just how it was for me.
My thoughts always returned to:
What would I miss while she is in daycare? Her first word? Her first steps? Would she be happy?
I put off finding a daycare provider until around 3 weeks before I had to return to work. I know, I should have started looking much sooner. For me, putting the thought of daycare out of my head was much easier than actually dealing with the terrifying reality of it. When I did actually start to look, it was much harder than I thought it would be. I knew that finding the perfect daycare provider would be difficult. But I had seriously underestimated how difficult it would be to actually find someone who had infant openings available.
Referral after referral; no one was willing to take another infant. I was naive in thinking that once I was ready to start looking for a daycare provider that it would just magically fall into place.
But, eventually, I stumbled across a wonderful stay-at-home-mom that was more than happy to care for my daughter while I was at work. Everything was great. They were a happy, loving family with a nice home in a very safe neighborhood. She even had a little boy close in age to my daughter, who seemed to take a liking to her almost right away. I took a deep breath and signed the necessary papers.
Finally, the day to return to work came.
Dropping her off for the first time was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do since becoming a parent. My husband and I woke up early and drove our daughter to the daycare provider’s house. Maybe it was nerves or the fact that it was raining pretty hard that morning, but I actually forgot how to get to her house and we were late, which resulted in a pretty major meltdown on my part.
I know that I’m not alone in saying this, but from the moment I drove away, I was bawling.
My first day back went as expected. Throughout the day, my coworkers came by to say hello and visit with me. We caught each other up on what was happening in our lives and they would ask me how I was handing my first day back away from the baby. I would smile and tell them that I was doing just fine and say things like,
The first day back is always the hardest.
But deep down, I could have sworn that I was slowly dying. The seconds crept by. I put on a brave face, but inside I was miserable. Was my child ok? Was she sad? Happy? Hungry? Could I really do this?
Days passed and I have to admit that it was kind of nice to be at work and have time to myself. It did get a little easier as time went on and I tried to remain positive. After all, millions of mothers return to work after having a baby, I was no different than them. But there was always a feeling of anxiety and dread after I would drop my daughter off at daycare. I knew that she was in very good hands, but every day it was always the same. After scouring blog after blog for comfort and support I realized that there were two kinds of moms, those who couldn’t wait to return to work and those who dreaded it. I was obviously the latter.
About a month in, the anxiety of leaving my daughter in daycare won.
My husband and I sat down and had a talk and decided that I would stay home for a while longer. I was doing some freelance work on the side and we decided that I would transition to working freelance full time. Of course, the astronomical cost of daycare was a huge factor in my decision to stay home and we were currently living with my husband’s parents. There would never be a more perfect time to stay home. The only factor that made my decision difficult was the fact that I truly loved my job and the idea that I would have to start over somewhere else in the near future was definitely discouraging.
Now, my daughter is 15 months old. I’ve been working from home for some time now and I have to say that it was the best decision that I could have made for myself and my family. While being a stay-at-home-mom with my daughter and working freelance from home is amazing, it definitely isn’t for everybody. I don’t get to clock out at 5pm and turn my brain off of work. And working in peace and quiet basically never happens. I work late nights and stress about deadlines. But to be honest, that’s ok with me. Being a new mom is hard. There are so many uncertainties. But I’ve found comfort in the experiences that other moms have shared. And I hope that my perspective brings comfort to any other mothers that are struggling with the decision to stay home.