Last Wednesday was a big day. I packed Alex into his car seat, drove across town and introduced him to a woman who would be responsible for him for the next eight hours.
Alex went to daycare.
Actually, he went to a home care children’s learning centre, but my point is that we both started the beginning of a new journey. At not even four months of age, I “handed” Alex over to someone else.
It was a weird day. I felt guilt. I felt sad. But I also felt relieved.
More than two years ago, my husband gave me his complete support for me to launch my own freelance writing business. Part of the attraction was that I could stay at home with our not-yet-born children. The downside to working for yourself is that it doesn’t come with EI benefits, so we weren’t granted any money to afford me a maternity leave. We saved enough money to allow me to take six months off with our first child. But, as you small business owners know, you can’t just shut down your business.
I returned to work with two clients in mid-January. Alex was five weeks old. During naps and after bedtime, I’d try my best to get work done, all while trying to figure out what the shart I was doing as a parent.
I was struggling to balance it all out.
We had planned to put Alex in daycare come summertime, but we started it a bit earlier to get him used to it and to give me the opportunity to get a full day of work in once a week.
Getting Rid of the Guilt
Last week while out at a work function, someone approached me and asked me about my baby’s whereabouts. When I told this person that Alex was at daycare, they scrunched their face and asked, “isn’t he, like, three months?”
Thanks for making me feel like an icehole (Johnny Dangerously, anyone?).
I’ve dealt with the guilt and have decided to move on. Here’s why: While it sucks letting my son go so early, I’ll only ever have to put him in three days a week until he heads off to kindergarten. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
And honestly? I actually liked using my brain in a different way with no interruptions and I love my work.
So how’d the first day go?
Alex was a champ. And actually, I think I was a champ, too.
Although, when I drove away, I was teary. So I did what any normal human being would do when they’re upset: I got McDonald’s breakfast.
After wolfing down my Egg McMuffin, I got so much work done and felt like a better mom for it. I got a break from mommy brain and it allowed me to give my full attention to Alex when we were home together. Also, I got the chance to power clean the house, which I did in a half hour. That’s unheard of these days.
Each mom has a different experience and opportunity when it comes to their maternity leave. Some can take up to a year off and never want to return to work, while others are jonesing to get back to it. Regardless of your scenario, just remember you’re doing what’s best for your circumstance, for you, and for your little one. My biggest lesson is to embrace the time you do have together.
I’m still struggling to find the proper balance between work and motherhood, but I’ve been told by many moms that guilt will continue until I retire and when, I assume, Alex is 30 and living in our basement.
How did your child’s first day of daycare go for you?
Was maternity leave blissful or were you craving a work schedule?
How much did you judge me when I said I got McDonald’s breakfast?