What Kind of Mom Am I? by Jamie Levine
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.