The other afternoon I was picking Nellie up from daycare and another mom was also waiting for her daughter. We chatted and realized our girls were basically the same age and I inquired if her daughter also slept like absolute crap at daycare or if it was just poor Nellie. She sighed and said her daughter slept terrible at daycare as well and I paused before saying that probably no matter where we sent our kids, sleep in a loud bright room at this age would probably be a struggle. The other mom took a beat before saying, “The fact I have to send her anywhere during the day is what tears me up inside.” I nodded and we slipped into silence as our kids were brought to us by the daycare employees.
I haven’t stopped thinking about that exchange since it happened.
Some days I have zero struggle with the fact that Nellie is dropped off at daycare in the morning and retrieved after work. I know that she is in the best infant room we could find (and probably even better than we can reasonably afford) with amazingly caring people who truly love and care for her while Adam and I are at work. I can tell from her demeanor every day that although she’s sometimes not all that well rested, she’s happy and thriving at daycare. I know that once she’s older she’ll be in an environment with other babies where she can play, learn and interact and will be in a very fulfilling space. I also know that I don’t think I am capable of being home with her 24/7. I don’t believe that is what I am meant to do, I found being home isolating and quite frankly boring, and I was ready to head back to work and interact with other adults and use my brain in challenging and creative ways. Daycare will begin to teach her baby sign language around 6 months, they have an infant sensory station, hell they made a Mother’s Day craft. These women are professional baby wranglers and I bow to them.
Yet even knowing all of this, I still have days where I feel absolutely terrible with sending my sweet tiny baby to daycare. When she’s struggling with naps I think how if I was home with her I’d be there to work through any sleep issues she was having. If she had a short nap I’d be available to rock her back to sleep, give her that dedicated personal loving attention because it would just be me and her. Every time I get a daily report back from them and see terrible naps or notes about some new sleeping issue my heart dies a little inside. She’s struggling and if her mom was there with her things might not be so hard.
I hate that I get home from work and have about an hour and a half with her before she goes to bed. That even changing my clothes, putting away dishes, making dinner, basically anything other than sitting on the floor with her takes away from the few precious collection of minutes I have before she’s asleep. I hate that once she’s asleep I feel relief that Adam and I get to relax and catch up after a long day at work. Guilt when she’s awake, and guilt when she’s asleep.
I know deep down that what we’re doing is right. Fine. Perfectly ok even. That Nellie is happy, healthy, loved and cared for both at daycare and at home, but still it nags me. I’ll have a good day at work, and then feel overwhelming guilt as I sit in 45 minutes of traffic trying to get to daycare as fast as possible to snag my little baby and love on her before its time for bed. Sometimes I dream of having a nanny, or family in town, wonder if she should have been in a home daycare, or daydream of a life where I could work part time to fulfill that desire to achieve while also caring for my tiny sweet girl. But none of those things are, or will be our reality, so I try not to dwell.
I try to soak up the time I have with her in the morning, laying in bed together after nursing making noises and faces, knowing I’m probably spending too much time in bed which will cause me to be a tad late getting out the door. After work I drop everything and just try to be with her. On the floor, in her face, kissing and loving on her for those precious few moments before she’s off to bed once again. And there’s always weekends. That time I get to just be her mom. To tackle every nap, every milestone, every issue, blowout, fussy moment and outfit change.
I’m constantly content and conflicted at the same time, and I guess that’s just motherhood. A bundle of contradictions and mess and a never ending overflow of spit up and love.