Monday, September 07, 2009

What Kind of Mom Am I? by Jamie Levine

I was a stay-at-home mom once – if you count the 3 ½ months I was on maternity leave. I was also a full-time working/commuting-to-the-city mom – for about 16 months after that. And right now? I’m not sure what I am. After my beloved children’s book buying job of 10 years was eliminated back in January, I started freelance writing and consulting to pay the bills. In the past few months, I’ve also picked up some coaching clients (I’m a certified life coach). And I’m always networking. Always looking for more work and/or another full-time job, while trying to decide “what to do with my life.” It’s pretty time-consuming figuring out how to support my daughter long-term, by myself. Thus, as I often joke, I’m the busiest unemployed person I know!

When I first lost my job, my immediate reaction was to keep my daughter in her daycare – but for shorter hours – because I didn’t want to “disrupt” her life. She loves it there and well, I love having the time to get my work done without worrying about her. But now, over six months later, it sometimes feels strange. Mind you, Jayda and I have plenty of “extra” time together now that I’m no longer commuting. She’s up at 5 a.m. (and so am I, by default) and I don’t drop her off at daycare until 8. That’s a lot of quality morning time! And when I pick her up at 4 p.m., we still have hours together to do things, eat dinner at the same time, and enjoy a lot of unrushed book-reading and cuddling before bed. I give Jayda plenty of attention, and we’re closer than ever. But I sometimes feel guilty for not keeping her at home with me all the time. I mean, it’s not like I have an office to go to every day.

The truth is, I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom! I love my daughter…truly adore her. But being with her 24/7 drives me nuts! Especially when we’re just staying home or running errands. She’s a wonderful kid…but she is a toddler. A very intelligent, inquisitive, attention-needing, at-times-tantrum-throwing toddler. That’s why I keep us so active when she IS home with me (on weekends, holidays, etc.). I fill up our calendar as far in advance as I can, and run myself ragged going places and doing things with Jayda when we’re together. Because being at home alone with my daughter – and staying idle – makes me crazy.

Of course, financially, I’m not always sure Jayda’s time in daycare makes sense for us. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I should shorten her hours a bit more. But if I bring her in later in the morning, I lose my much-needed before-work gym time. And that’s what keeps me sane. And if I pick her up earlier, it cuts into her outdoor playtime with her friends. Also very important.

Am I being a spendthrift? Or worse – selfish? And what kind of mother can I label myself as now, anyway? I no longer truly identify with my full-time working-long-hours mommy friends…but I’m also not a stay-at-home mom, filling my days with play dates and Mommy & Me classes.

However, I do love our routine. I have just enough Jayda-time and just enough Jamie-time. And while Jayda’s face always lights up when I arrive to take her home from daycare, it does take us 15 minutes or more to get out of there. She’s too busy hugging all her friends, saying goodbye to her teachers, and simply, not wanting to leave. So, for now, I guess I’m just Jayda’s mom…a woman who’s trying to find her way professionally, working to stay healthy and sane, and most of all, is devoted to keeping her daughter happy and thriving. And I suppose that’s a pretty good kind of mom to be.

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Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Jamie-My son was in a wonderful daycare since 16 months old, while I was a SAHM, all the way up until the week before he went to Kindergarten, and let me tell you, it was the BEST decision we ever made for my son, for me and for my husband. My son loved daycare so much that we often "closed the place down!" He STILL has friends he has known from going there so long that we have playdates with to this day. And I have learned how to get ALL of my errands done before he comes home so that I can spend quality time with him. If you can keep it in your budget, I highly recommend keeping her in daycare for her love of it and social development, and so that you can take care of yourself too, especially as a single mom!

9:48 PM  

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