One Mom Heads Back to Work -- Reluctantly

By Amy Mueller

For the past two and a half years, I have been a stay-at-home mother. We have one child, a girl. Since I have become a parent, most other things have taken a back seat in my life, including daily showers and wearing make-up. I have been OK with that. I welcomed this change with open arms. I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities: We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse.

But I digress. Last week, I started my first full-time job since the birth of my little girl. I don't have a choice in the matter, as our family needs the extra income. My husband and I talked to our toddler about the changes. She knew she was going to start "school" and that Mommy was starting a new job.

Getting out of the car at day care, she looked at me with her huge hazel eyes and told me that she was scared. I assured her there was nothing to be afraid of. But really, what do I know? This is my first experience with day care, too. I told her that I would drop her off and pick her up later in the day. That did not stop her from asking me if I was coming back.

As soon as we walked into her classroom, she turned to make sure I was still there. I walked her to a small table where some other kids were sitting. Alligator tears started streaming down her face. I thought to myself, "Stay strong. She will love her day care and she'll be fine once I'm gone and the day begins." After a few minutes consoling her, I quietly left.

Walking away from a child who is upset and confused has to be one of the hardest things I've ever done as a mother. For two and a half years, I've been the one who makes everything better. In this new role as a working mom, I have to leave and hope that she becomes stronger each day.

Everyone tells me "it gets better." Sure, kids adjust quickly. What about the parents who long to be the caregivers in their child's life? Going back to work may be harder on me than on my toddler.

Then, I have to deal with my emotions regarding my new job. I remember that feeling of being "successful" and "career-driven" before I gave birth to my daughter. Right now, I feel more numb and disconnected than anything else. I'm giving up being a parent full-time for something that I wasn't missing all that much.

At the end of my first day, when I arrived at the day care to pick up my little girl, there were already parents and children filing in and out of the room. I peered in through the window in hopes of catching a glimpse of my baby laughing and playing and having a grand ol' time. Instead, I saw my child, looking impossibly small, standing alone with a red, tear-streaked face. She was looking around the room frantically, like she'd been forgotten in an unfamiliar place. My throat thickened as I made my way to her. She saw me and cried out in a combination of relief and terror. I held her tight. I assured her that I always will come back for her.

I'm not a fan of playing with my child's emotions. I am trying to find the balance of being a stable role model for my child, all the while holding back the frustrations and desires of becoming a working mother. Typing this after my third day in, my eyes just couldn't stay open any longer. Our daughter started running a fever last night. She still has it, so my husband is forced to take another day off work tomorrow. We're thinking of switching to a smaller, home-based day care rather than a large day-care center. The stress in our house is running high. I have to be honest; all this doesn't even come close to justifying my feelings and emotions about my situation. They say it gets easier ... do you think it will? For me? For my child? When did it get easier for you?

Amy Mueller lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family. In addition to her new full-time job, she blogs for Chicago Moms and reviews kid books and products at MumsTheWurd.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 15, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Amy, great guest blog. First of all, take a breather. Your daughter most likely will be fine. I would give the larger day care a longer chance then one day. Maybe a month. If your gut reaction is that this is a safe place, I would hang in a little longer.

Being home for so many years, will make the transition harder but it has to be done sometime. Whether she starts preschool at 3 or 4, eventually she will branch out to the larger world.

I think I had it a lot easier as my daughter went to day care at 5 months old. She did not have stranger anxiety and was perfectly happy being with strangers. They really don't recognize strangers till around 6 months old. My son will actually start day care at 3 months old because we don't have as much leave for him. But with the second kid, your more relaxed. I know he will be fine. Me, on the other hand, may be upset. I know I cried when I left her the first day.

The important thing is never lie to your child. Tell her each day that Mommy will drop you off and pick you up. Be prepared that there will always be bad days. Even several years from now. My daughter has been in day care for as long as she can remember but if my train is late and I pick her up 15 minutes late, she starts to notice and show minor signs of distress. They constantly need to know that you will be back for them each day.

I, also imagine, she was just fine shortly after you left. Believe me, if she was screaming and crying all day long, the day care would have let you know. That is rare. Most kids cry a bit and then move on.

Hang in there, you will be fine. Worse comes to worse, maybe you could find a part time job or one that allows you more time with your daughter.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 15, 2008 7:22 AM

I truly do empathize with how hard it is for parents and kids to adjust to change...but perhaps there's a silver lining here? From your description it seems as though your daughter has been the center of all your attention, at the cost of your individual interests and goals. Is that really the best thing for you or for her? We all give up small luxuries and personal time for our kids - OK, and even daily showers when they're newborns (I have 3 kids and a full time military career) but at some point it's important to rebalance your time.
The daycare setting probably seems like a jungle to you, with no one focused on YOUR child. Well, that's somewhat true: even the best daycare centers and preschools can seem loud, crowded, and disorganized until you break down what's happening in those individual corners. Kids need to learn to socialize, play in groups as well as together, solve problems and work out solutions for themselves, and pick themselves up when they fall physically or emotionally. It's one of the toughest things to watch as a parent but it's a life skill that is absolutely crucial.
Something else that has helped us in many years of moving and changing caregivers is to have a quiet (ie. before or after "school") conference with your daughter's caregiver and/or supervisor. They need to know how you're feeling to help them interpret your daughter's behavior and needs; also, they have undoubtedly seen many children and parents go through this, and may have some great tips to reassure you both and help with this transition.

Posted by: MomWorks | April 15, 2008 7:46 AM

I have a lump in my throat and feel your pain and consusion. I went back to work part-time when my son was 3 and my daughter was 18 months. It was brutal being the drop-off person, so I am not the regular person - my husband is. He does a great job and reads them a book before he leaves then at "school."
My son is now 5 and my daughter is 3 1/2 and I will say it does get better. They like their "school" and are enriched through their interactions with the other children and their teachers.

Good luck - and hang in there! You can do it.

Posted by: KLM | April 15, 2008 7:47 AM

I put my child in day care at 14 months. It was the hardest thing we ever did and the first month was AWFUL. I only persevered because 1. the day care we picked was fantastic (ratio of 1 teacher to 4 kids) and 2. every parent told me that if we got through the first month it would be ok. And you know what? It was. Ok, minus the fact that I'll never be able to get rid of my guilt. But I comfort myself with the fact that I did things on MY terms: I picked a day care that I was a 100% comfortable with even though it is ridiculously expensive; I reminded myself that I grew up in a community atmosphere in India with friends and relatives at our house for days on end--so while my mom was a SAHM her attention wasn't nowhere near concentrated on me 100% unlike me and my son the first year where I didn't think it was good for him to be so isolated with occasional play dates; I put him in part time day care (9-3pm) so I had enough time with him before he went to bed; and last, every minute that I am not working is spent with him. He's now 20 months, he likes his day care, loves his teachers and friends--he has some bad days but they are rare. As for me, I enjoy my work and the strength of my guilt is directly related to PMS.

Posted by: MCM | April 15, 2008 7:50 AM

Amy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this difficult transition. The two-working- parents-juggle is a tough act, but eventually you will settle into a routine that works for everyone in your family. Or at least it will work for most of you, most of the time.

Good luck!

Posted by: Kim/hormone-colored days blog | April 15, 2008 7:56 AM

Also I wanted to add that if I were bringing up my son in a country where community and family were all important and he regular access to his grandparents in a daily or weekly basis there is no way I would put him in daycare. People in India do not because while moms work, grand parents take over. But this country is a very isolating place in which to bring up children. I honestly believe that the community that comes from a good daycare is one of the best things I could have given him. I can't imagine a situation where it would be just me and him at home for days and days while I tried to work in as many play dates as I could. It really does take a village--kids need to be held and cuddled and talked to by loving people other than their parents. JMO.

Posted by: MCM | April 15, 2008 7:56 AM

Oh Amy, that's so hard! In my case I really WANTED to go back FT, but it was still numbing and gut wrenching and I remember sitting in a conference room in my first week biting my lip and resolving to quit.

Before I get into the reassuring part, here is what helped me a lot: developing joyous routines on either end of the day. My son "sends me off" to work (my husband does drop off) and part of that whole routine is that I fill his hand up with kisses and he fills mine up with kisses. Then when I pick him up we do this whole routine of exploring the front yard of the daycare together and when we get home we have a whole silly routine.

In other words, find some bliss for you both to enjoy and to reassure you BOTH that you CAN reconnect. And you will!

My son took weeks to adjust. He is just that kind of kid - he takes a long time to deal with changes of any kind.

His birthday fell in the first two weeks of montessori and the teachers took a picture for us and he looked so unhappy.

And he was. I felt it was important to acknowledge that. Sometimes doing new things involves being scared and nervous and unhappy at the start of them.

I'm not a huge fan of forcing "life lessons" on a toddler, BUT given that we agreed that this are situation was adequate (and even good for him) and worked for our family, he happened to get that lesson.

He also learned that the world is full (his world :)) of people who will hug him when he is sad, make sure he is fed, and introduce him to great fun stuff. That is a huge benefit as well. But it does take some time for the little ones to learn it... of course.

And now, by the way, he loves it. He misses school when he is home sick and asks to go back. His little extrovert nature is full of people and teachers. I am not sure that FT daycare is "the best" for kids, but I am also not sure that being home with me was "the best" either - NO ONE can beat me in love for my child, but there was stress and worry there too that isn't now.

Both situations however were entirely "good enough" and really I think my son deserves that. We say that our kids deserve "the best" but often I think that it is when we try to achieve the best in one area that we end up making our worst mistakes in others.

You'll get through this. And remember, if your daughter doesn't adjust, there are options - but you need to give her the time!

Posted by: Shandra | April 15, 2008 8:02 AM

Amy, hang in, it does get better. A few tips:

Create a routine with her, almost a ritual. Go to a certain place every morning, do a certain thing, then kisses and leave -- immediately, no looking back. Also helps if you can interest her in something, so she can be busy playing -- then it's like she's the one leaving you. For my husband, what worked was sitting down and reading a book. For me, it was 3 hugs, 3 kisses -- my girl is one who will hang onto your neck until the cows come home, but once I established 3 as the rule, she transitioned almost immediately.

Realize some (most) kids aren't a natural at transitions. My girl is a huge extrovert, loved going to "school" and seeing all her friends -- and yet, at dropoff time, she'd become a remora. If your daughter is like this, a dropoff ritual becomes even more important. I hated sitting and reading a book every morning -- I was in "beat the traffic" rush mode, ready to go go go. But that 5 minutes made all the difference in the world to her.

Finally, show no fear. Seriously. Kids smell guilt a mile a way. They know mommmy's not happy. This can lead to only one of two things: (1) they know something's wrong, which makes them feel insecure and unsafe, so they become clingy and hysterical; or (2) they realize they can work mommy like PT Barnum, and become clingy and hysterical. I once complained to my husband about how difficult dropoffs were, and he looked at me like I was from Mars -- turns out, our girl is an exceptional drama queen who knows a softie when she sees one! Had me COMPLETELY snookered -- every morning, she had me convinced her little heart was breaking, so I'd go off to work in tears, trying to figure out how I needed to rearrange our lives to spare her. Big lightbulb moment. The next morning, before we left, I told her we weren't doing that any more; she tried a little, but I was very matter-of-fact at dropoff, and within 2 days she had dropped the whole act. Although she still pulls it out on my mom now and then -- like I said, she can spot a sucker a mile away. :-)

Of course, I suspect at 2 1/2 your daughter is a little below the intentional drama queen stage. But you still need to realize she's taking her cues from you: if you act like daycare is a sad thing that you're only doing because you have to, she'll see it the same way. Conversely, if you see it as a really fun place for her to go make friends, play with much better toys than she has at home, and learn fun things, then she will, too. Yes, she'll still take a few days or weeks to adjust to the change of routine, but she WILL adjust.

Oh, and BTW: one cool benefit of being cheap: it guarantees that daycare has MUCH better toys. :-)

Posted by: Laura | April 15, 2008 8:16 AM

It does get easier. I put my son in daycare at 3 months and the first month was the most difficult. I think I cried more than he did. I felt so incredibly guilt for having to leave him with a what were then a strangers. He was sick almost every week for the first couple months. Now a year later, those strangers are people that really care for him and he is thriving in his environment. He is a social butterfly and learning new things daily. He has built up his immunity and has only gotten sick a couple of times this winter. His Dad drops him off in the morning and he runs into his classroom to play without a second glance back to Dad. When I pick him up, he runs into my arms with a giggle and a smile.

Posted by: BC | April 15, 2008 8:23 AM

Amy, you have a lot of great advice here already. FWIW, my daughter went to a preschool when she turned 2 from 9 to 12, and she cried every day for a year at drop off. It was a combination of being 2, a somewhat old and dilapidated environment (we chose it primarily for convenience to our son's school and developmental program but we knew that the classrooms were cramped) and just not being one of those kids who will talk to anybody. Fast forward one year -- last September she was finally old enough to go to the same school as my son and she adapted much better. I think your thought for looking at a different day care is not a bad one. One thing I would suggest is to drop in one day during the day to see how your daughter is. She does not have to see you. Just to give you a peace of mind. I visited one preschool once and a child was crying for one hour while I was there. The preschool teachers dismissed it and said she was new. My heart nearly broke listening to that poor girl crying. I have no idea if the school called her parents.

Posted by: DC reader | April 15, 2008 8:30 AM

Amy, thank you so much for writing this guest blog. I have a lump in my throat reading it remembering the transition for us. I started my kids in daycare at 5 months. Even though they supposedly don't have stranger anxiety yet at that age, my daughter knew the caregiver was not me and was not happy. And, she didn't nap well there so was cranky and miserable in the evenings. I was miserable too. It took me a long time to come to terms with working and having her in daycare. But, in the end she was really, really happy there. It became her home away from home. She loved her teachers and I knew that she was loved and well-cared for. And, she stopped crying!

What helped me so much was the other families at the daycare and the people at my work who also had kids in daycare. They were a great support network. It really varies by child in terms of the adjustment period from what I've seen. Some kids cry at drop off even after a long time in daycare but as soon as mom/dad is out of sight are fine and have fun all day.

My best advice is to give it some time and try to come up with a drop-off routine that works for you. With my son, I would just walk him in, give a quick kiss good-bye and go. If I lingered, he got upset. With my daughter, we would put her stuff down, read a book on the couch and then I would go. She did well with that and I loved having those few moments before work with her on my lap reading.

The other thing you should realize is that many kids your daughter's age start half-day preschools at this time so they go through the same types of tearful separations. So, even if you weren't working, your child could be dealing with this. My son wound up at one of those when he was 2 (we had to pull him from daycare and I was home with him for a while due to an illness). The 2s program at his school had this transition period for the kids to get used to the school but some kids had a really tough time and cried for many weeks. But, they all ultimately became adjusted to going to school and really enjoyed it.

Hang it there! I really do think it will get better.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | April 15, 2008 8:30 AM

Is this really your only option? Or the only option that makes the pay worth it? My husband and I worked opposite shifts for years - until recently, really. That takes away from family time together, but it resulted in all our children being extremely closely bonded to both of us. Our children almost never had a babysitter, or in years when they did, the babysitting was limited to 10 hours a week. Not only did we minimize child care costs (and you need a really good salary to pay for most types of child care) but it also made for a happier, less stressed family. If my child was sick, my husband was home during the morning, and I could get home by early afternoon so he could go to work.

I worked in day cares as a teenager and after college, and as a result, I swore I would never put any of my children into one. I worked at high end, expensive daycares - one in McLean and another in Oakton. And I still felt sorry for the children, who would rather be home where they are happy. They were well-treated at the day cares, even adored by many of us, entertained, given healthful snacks, enjoyed activities...and still it seemed sad to me, b/c they all wanted to go home. (My classes were usually 3 and 4 year olds)

I know Chicago is probably like DC and very career driven and money driven. And it is hard when you are well-educated to accept a lower paying job; so there are no easy answers.

Yes, it might get easier and she might end up loving it. But I'd also wonder if there were any other options that would still bring in money, but not be so disruptive to you and your daughter.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 8:32 AM

Amy, I've got tears in my eyes thinking of how wrenching this must be for you, especially when you don't want to go back to work. I agree with the other posters -- create joyful routines that you can both look forward to at the beginning and end of the day. Another thing I did with my kids as I was rocking them or sitting with them at night was to "talk about the day we had" and they would fill me in on what they'd done (some or most of which I already knew), and it was a peaceful ending to the day. I'm sorry you have to go through this, and I hope that things work out for you. It does get easier, I promise. (I know, because I had to return to work when I didn't want to after my husband was laid off.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 15, 2008 8:36 AM

Laura, I think you are a younger incarnation of my mother. She LOVED the fact that daycare had different toys, including stuff she wouldn't buy/hid because it made too much darn noise!

To Amy, I was in all kinds of day care = home based, centers, before/after school programs and thrived in different ways in each of them. One of the things I remember about the before/after school program that was center-based is that the "big" kids did look some supervised activities with the little ones. Good luck finding the environment best for your child.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 15, 2008 8:51 AM

We don't have any kids in daycare yet (we will in a couple of months), but from my experience as a 'day care kid,' I can honestly tell you that I loved it. I loved our teachers, most of the kids (one was a biter, but he was really the only problem child), the snack times, the nap times, playing outside, etc.

And it was really no big deal. We (my sister and I) knew that each day, Mommy went to her place and we went to ours. Each evening, she'd pick us up. There was a set schedule and we knew when we'd see her.

I don't know how/if that helps you in finding balance, but just so you know, I'm a "product" of day care, and I thought it was great.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | April 15, 2008 8:57 AM

Amy, give it some time. Little kids who aren't total extroverts need time to adjust. Also- although you saw her crying at the end of that first day, it's likely that she had been fine all day before that, and only started getting unhappy when other parents began picking up their kids and she was reminded of you. I've noticed that at pickup time at my son's preschool, there are always a few kids who get a little weepy when they see the other moms and dads and start thinking "where is mine?" (Hard to tell a 2 year old that she just has to wait 15 more minutes!)

Posted by: acorn | April 15, 2008 9:01 AM

Amy, This is a wonderful essay. So glad to see you here, as well as at Chicago Moms!

I wish I had some great advice for you and your daughter. I know you will both figure out what works best.

PunditMom
http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | April 15, 2008 9:02 AM

After staying home for the first 4 and 6 years of my two daughter's lives, I returned to an executive job. After 5 years of wishing I could be with them, I gave up the big job, downsized my lifesytle and started my own business.They now are in college and extremely successful. I still regret the years I missed with them, while also feeling the pain of lost career opportunities. My advice is to do anything you can to minimize your time away from your daughter. You won't regret it!

Posted by: KMW | April 15, 2008 9:07 AM

When my children started daycare (at 11 and 12 months, respectively), the daycare center had a phase-in: on the first day, I stayed there with them for an hour, on the second I stepped outside for 5 minutes toward the end of the hour, on the third we stayed for two hours and I left for the second hour and on the fourth they stayed for the whole period, but I was on call.
Worked fine, and the preschool our daughter will be going to has a similar routine for their three-year-olds: one hour meet-the-teacher-see-the-rooms, one hour alone, a half day and a whole day.
Our kids would have been frantic if we had dropped them off at a strange place and left them there all day right off the bat.
Kids get used to new places fairly quickly, but that is too much at once.

Posted by: enkafiles | April 15, 2008 9:09 AM

I found that when I gave myself some time to get to know the staff, it really helped me with the adjustment. By talking with the director, assistant-director, teachers, admin-assistants, I have a sense of who they are, and that the center's overall philosophy is in line with my values and beliefs. My son started at the center when he was 2 1/2 months old; so while it is a large center, he started in the infant room with a 4:1 ratio.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to transition part time for two weeks before going to full-time. It made things much easier in my opinion.
My son is now almost 1 1/2 years old. He clearly loves "school" -- even when there are days that he doesn't want Mommy to go. When he first started to care about me leaving it was hard. I talked with the teachers and the directors, and that helped reassure me that he was going through a normal phase--especially since he would have the same behavior even if I was leaving him with Daddy while I went to the next room.
I did find that it helped both him and me to have some distraction at separation time. Since I have to drop him off a little after 6:30 in the morning, I get him started with his breakfast before I go. Since there are a couple of other kids that arrive at the same time and have breakfast too, it is like a little club for them.
Obviously different kids do well in different situations. For me, I liked the accountability of a larger center that is accredited as well as licensed, so I'm glad that he seems to be doing well there.
But I agree that you need to give the child time to make the adjustment. Talk with the staff. If you like their thoughts and answers, then give it some more time and see how it goes.

Posted by: SRmom | April 15, 2008 9:22 AM

I'm sorry this is such a hard time for you, Amy. I put my daughter in daycare at 4 months and it clicked for us immediately. I was comfortable with the center and teachers and very glad to get back to work.

I have discovered that I am a good parent, but I am a better parent when I don't have to spend all day with my daughter. I need some time doing my own things. Fortunately, my daughter loves daycare and looks forward to going there. I have friends who are fantastic stay-at-home parents, but I don't think I have their same temperment.

Oh, and as for the luxuries, most of us working moms gave them up from the start as well. Then again, I never did wear makeup!

Posted by: MaryB | April 15, 2008 9:26 AM

Dear Amy,
I was heartbroken by your essay. Is this really your only option? You know, there is a whole world out there in our country that is not so expensive a place to live. My family moved to a smaller town where the cost of living was much lower and so our children did not have to go to daycare. Is this even an option? You always have an option, except if you are the sole breadwinner.
Good luck!
Marthajane

Posted by: marthajane | April 15, 2008 9:30 AM

I just want to make a gentle suggestion to marthajane that daycare is not so evil as you might think and that, while transitions are hard and Amy will have to find the best way in her situation, it is not a tragedy. Amy and her husband and daughter have each other and that is the important thing. I wish them the best.

Posted by: MaryB | April 15, 2008 9:49 AM

Amelia, not questioning you personally but since you have made some pretty sweeping statements I just wanted to say...

My mother stayed home with us, working nights and weekends at a few points in our childhood. If you ask her the sacrifice was totally worth it and we had an ideal childhood and we are so close and bonded.

Fact is, she continues to think that because neither my sister nor I have bothered challenging her memory for the past oh, ten years.

But OUR memories of the experience was that my mother was crazy "bonded" with us - that is, she was enmeshed in every aspect of our lives, every small road block was a crisis, her worries about money were crushing (one month we ate white rice at every meal), and the drive and ambition that she could have put into a real career was thwarted at jobs she hated and her misery expressed itself in our home on a near-daily basis.

And in fact, for me my relationship with my mother is so tenuous that I just don't bother saying it. Because I know that her view of herself as a great mum is so important that she would disown me first. In fact, she did not not speak with my sister for two years when my sister expressed similar views.

I'm just saying that to say - despite your observations in group care, you do NOT know whether all those kids' homes were truly better for them, or would have been if the parents had worked swing shifts or been down to one income. It's a very easy lofty judgment to make.

Posted by: Shandra | April 15, 2008 9:50 AM

I have two kids in daycare - 3 1/2 and 11 months - and they adore it. They both have a lot of friends. My husband does drop off, because if I do it I sit and play with the kids, and he does not love pick up. So I get to work early and pick the kids up a bit early so we can all have dinner together, and then after bedtime (8 and 7, respectively) we can work if we still need to or chat a bit.

After just spending a vacation in another city with friends who don't have kids in daycare, I was suprised at the difference between the two. Not that I think my kid is perfect - far from it - but the other kids were not as far along with sharing, taking turns and expressing thoughts verbally. Every family I talked with was planning to send their kid (range 2 - 3) to half-time preschool this coming fall because they have noticed the difference too when playing with other kids. I think this speaks to the previous poster's thought about community - most kids thrive in a situation where they are able to play and learn with other kids, but we just don't have that society. In fact, my mother was watching my son two days a week, and he asked to go to daycare full time when he was about three, he loves it so much.

That being said, if you are uncomfortable with your daycare, you should be as critical as you have to until you are satisfied. We've done unannounced drop-ins to see how the kids are doing. We have obnoxiously good daycare, so we've never had a problem. We scrimp to send our kids to the daycare, and it's worth every single penny, including driving 15 and 10 year old cars and never eating out. Not every situation is good for every kid though. I'd encourage you to give it some more time, but check out options. I think I looked at every daycare option in the city, some twice.

I have to work - I make more money than my husband - and I enjoy my work. We have both given up better jobs in bigger cities because we have no commute, can eat dinner together and stagger schedules. So that is an option for some people too.

Good luck! I've been incredibly impressed with how much time and energy my friends and coworkers spend on child care, and how wonderful their children are as a benefit. Sounds like your family is giving it the thought and consideration it deserves.

Posted by: Ann Arbor | April 15, 2008 10:02 AM

Frankly, I think you went about this all wrong. Why didn't you start daycare about a week before starting back to work? That would have eased your child into it, and would have given you the option of dropping by to check on her. You also could have been using daycare for occasional drop-in visits several weeks before that. Yes, she cried. Yes, you felt guilty. But research shows that kids who go to daycare build social skills that they don't get in today's smaller families. I find it hard to believe that this is or will be "the hardest thing you've ever done" and that you were playing with her emotions. Learning to separate from Mom is part of life.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 10:17 AM

Shandra:

But I didn't say those things you said I did. I didn't say that all day cares are bad, and that all children are miserable in them. I just said that the impact working in day cares had on ME, was that I didn't want to put my children in them b/c the children seemed sad.

Nor do I work odd hours merely FOR the bonding. I only meant that my children are all close to their father b/c he was home with them when I was at work, which was different than other moms I knew whose younger children definitely always wanted mom b/c they spent so much time with her.

I meant that if there are other options with more flexibility, is there something else a person can give up fincially to make a less well-paying job still cover the needs of the family? I agree with you that the extreme you describe also didn't seem ideal. But neither does the situation in which I have to pry my sobbing child out of my arms so I can go to work. For some children, day care is fun and exciting and an easy transition, and for others - it is sad and miserable. The ones I worked with (and I always had the late shift - until 6:30) were sad and miserable and that made a huge impression on me.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 10:17 AM

Really great advice and support and wisdom from (almost) everyone today. Like all of us, Amy's got to make her own choices. Our choices as moms are never as black-and-white as extremists paint them.

Daycare can be awful -- and wonderful.

Being at home with mom can be wonderful -- and awful.

Providing financial security for your family is part of being a good parent. But some kids get far more security from massive amounts of time with mom and dad.

It's all a balance. And the balance is different for each mom, each kid, each family.

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 10:18 AM

I thought I'd forgotten all about those difficult transitions but a couple weeks ago, we took my youngest (age 10) to check out a Montessori school where she spent the day. I left her there after observing for an hour and she was non-conversational, shrugging when asked questions and would only minimally engage in any activity. I was worried silly. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she had her head in a book and I wondered if that was how she'd spent the whole day!
Once we got in the car, she started chattering her head off about everything she'd done and the friends she'd made and she's eager to attend in the fall! Knock my socks off! I had a completely wrong impression from what little I'd observed!
And it was a reminder to me of the early traumas of daycare. Amy, you think it'll be smooth sailing once you get past this transition? There are many more transitions to come! Not much consolation, I know. The transition to daycare, when they are so little, is the hardest. But check in with me and see what kind of a wreck I am when my girls leave for college!

Posted by: anne | April 15, 2008 10:31 AM

I understand the thinking behind several of the, "you haven't given it enough time" statements. However, the following statement gave me pause:

"Instead, I saw my child, looking impossibly small, standing alone with a red, tear-streaked face. She was looking around the room frantically, like she'd been forgotten in an unfamiliar place."

We've used home-based care, large center care, after-school and before-school programs and have had only one experience that I'd describe as you described yours. Our son was then 4 and it took us about 6 weeks to find an alternative. The difference was night and day in terms of how he was treated. No more looks of terror. Essentially, in the center we left, the employees took the position that he needed to toughen up and they didn't have time for hugs and personal attention beyond bandaids. If the personnel in charge of your child didn't give her sufficient attention and affection on her FIRST day, how will they treat her on her third week? You have to trust your gut and if a situation doesn't feel right, it often is not. What does your husband think of this center?

As an aside, if separating from you is harder than separating from your husband, wouldn't it be easier on your daughter (and you) if he handled the drop-off? Why make an already difficult situation more stressful for everyone?

Posted by: MN | April 15, 2008 10:33 AM

anne

"The transition to daycare, when they are so little, is the hardest. But check in with me and see what kind of a wreck I am when my girls leave for college!"

The transition for the parents when the kids get married can be pretty tough. I cried like a baby before, during, and after my daughter's wedding.

Posted by: Mother of the Bride | April 15, 2008 10:40 AM

We appreciate the paragraphs!

Posted by: pilcrow | April 15, 2008 10:44 AM

So, my story is different then what's posted here. I had an emergency C-sect, and had to be back at work at 5 1/2 weeks. Dad stayed home a week, then at 6 weeks, daughter went to daycare full time. Please, don't scream at me! She was in a daycare setting that had an amazing lady named Sylvia who took her under her wing - literally. She was an older retired wonderful woman who loved my daughter more then I could at that time (undiagnosed post partem depression - this was a long time ago). I am forever grateful for that loving, safe environment. Her daycare experience shaped such an amazing child.

Example. One friday she forgot her Barney stuffed animal. We couldn't face a weekend without it. I made some calls, and they came back, and opened for me to get it. That's the kind of place it is.

My mother, who was devestated that this is the way we went, would forget she was against daycare and say things like "X is really doing amazing - she's so smart/cute/funny/fill in the blanks" and I'd say, well, she's very exposed to books at daycare, and mom would stop talking. :)

Also - the kids from the daycare all went to elementary school together - they bussed from the center. They had compressed grades, example 1 and 2 in the same room. The advanced reading group was made up of 12 kids - 11 from the daycare. All the daycare kids. So, there's something to be said for centers.

Just to give them a plug - we used Reston Children's Center - a parent owned-cooperative.

Posted by: WAHM | April 15, 2008 10:46 AM

I don't have much more to add to the advice, except to trust your instincts. If your child seems unhappy day after day, then you should probably reassess the day care. It is important that the staff be kind and loving to the kids. If your daughter is not getting that, then you should move her.

The transition is always hard, especially at drop off. I remember feeling very bad leaving my son at daycare when he turned 2, but we eased into it gradually, by doing only mornings 3 days a week in the beginning, and then slowly transitioning to full time over the next year or so. The hardest thing for him was naptime. He really hated it, and his daycare teacher told me that to help him adjust, she would lie down next to him, in the beginning, and hug him until he fell asleep. This confirmed for me that it was the right day care, because they were willing to go the extra mile for him. And he did love the care providers. When I arrived to pick him up, he was always happy. So I felt no guilt. My sense is that if your daughter remains unhappy, even at the end of the day, you need to reassess. Perhaps adjustments are hard for her, or perhaps she needs some extra love and attention. Talking to the daycare people and asking for some extra hugs might be in order. If they aren't receptive, or if things don't improve, I would look at another place.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 10:50 AM

Amy: You said "Last week, I started my first full-time job since the birth of my little girl. I don't have a choice in the matter, as our family needs the extra income."

Well, you DO have a choice. And reminding yourself of that is one way you can get through this. It may not FEEL like a choice if the options are a) nothing but ramen for dinner 7 days/week, b) move from our house to a cramped apartment or c) working. But picking c) is still a choice.

And I don't mean to berate you. It's just that from my own experience I've found that when I am conscious of my choices it is soooo much easier to deal with the consequences. Making a list is one way to cope - plusses and minuses. In the plusses column put things like "since she's been in daycare my child has tried 3 new types of vegetables" and in the minuses column goes "we haven't had time to schedule a playdate with (a pre-daycare) friend". Sometimes my lists are mental and when I'm really questioning things I write them down. Nothing like seeing your own handwriting to either validate your choice or make you realize that you should try something different.

And yes, it does get better. For my own children I've observed that they need anywhere from one week to one month to adjust to a new caregiving situation.

Posted by: cm9887 | April 15, 2008 10:52 AM

"For the past two and a half years, I have been a stay-at-home mother...Since I have become a parent, most other things have taken a back seat in my life, including daily showers and wearing make-up...I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities: We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse."

I'm sorry, I just can't relate to an essay that starts out like this. Is having happy and comfortable kids and wearing make-up an either/or thing? I have two kids and manage to take a shower every day without expecting a medal.

I just have trouble drumming up much sympathy for women who are so dramatic about these things. It's life. You have kids, you make adjustments. Count your blessings--you were able to do exactly what you wanted (stay home with your kids) for 2.5 years. That's a lot more "choice" than most women get.

Posted by: Arlmom | April 15, 2008 10:58 AM

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: The Big Yawn | April 15, 2008 11:05 AM

Arlmom,
I think you are being a little harsh. I think many parents go through the phase, when the kids are quite young, where getting a shower can be a challenge. As for make-up, I don't wear much because I am so beautiful, so I guess it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on that. :)

Yes, Amy was lucky to stay at home for the first couple of years. But in a way, sending a child to daycare at 2 is harder than at 6 or 8 weeks. I recognize that. Amy, hang in there. It'll be okay.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 11:06 AM

Take a shower - you'll feel better.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 11:06 AM

>"For the past two and a half years, I have been a stay-at-home mother...Since I have become a parent, most other things have taken a back seat in my life, including daily showers and wearing make-up...I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities: We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse."

Right, I just can't relate to this. Balance is important and includes self care. Especially after the newborn stage, there is no reason why you can't be a good mother *and* take daily showers and take some pride in your appearance.

Going back to work is probably a hidden blessing in this case.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 11:07 AM

Stop this snarkiness or I will have to start deleting!

Be nice. You can still be opinionated but there is no need to make Amy or anyone else feel badly.

(I feel like I am lecturing my children.)

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 11:08 AM

"For the past two and a half years, I have been a stay-at-home mother...Since I have become a parent, most other things have taken a back seat in my life, including daily showers and wearing make-up...I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities"

P.U.!

Posted by: B.O. detector | April 15, 2008 11:09 AM

Leslie,
That's because some of today's posters apparently are teenagers pretending to be adults.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 11:10 AM

Marthajane: so if you're the sole breadwinner you're just out of luck? What if her DH wants to have more flexibility and less stress on him? Oh, sorry, you're the sole breadwinner, i just get everything *I* want, but you, you just have to suck it up. That's just the way it is...

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 11:13 AM

Please bring back login posting. I don't appreciate the fact that anyone can post as me. These imposters are not the hilarious genius that I am. I am antipATRICK!!! The GOD OF ON BALANCE!!!! I keep Leslie on its toes! As for this post, IT DISGUSTS ME!!! Daycare is for losers! Raise your child yourself or give it up for adoption. Pretty simple you pathetic little overachievers. This world does not need any more serial killers and yet that is exactly what you are raising with your absence. I hope that all you daycare frieks have named your child Ted Bundy. 'Cause that's who your little freak will turn out to be. Come on, say it with me, you daycare freaks, "I worship Ted Bundy, I want my child to be a serial killer, I want my child to maim small animals, and then, once he is old enough, I want him to say "And then it puts the lotion on" ... "

Posted by: antipATRICK | April 15, 2008 11:14 AM

"For the past two and a half years, I have been a stay-at-home mother...Since I have become a parent, most other things have taken a back seat in my life, including daily showers and wearing make-up...I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities: We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse."

As a former SAHM, I can relate to what Amy is trying to say. Most of the time I loved being at home with my kids and didn't care that my clothes were wash and wear stuff like yoga pants, jeans, shorts and t-shirts. (Sexy, I know.) There would be times, however, when I'd see a woman who was dressed to kill in an outfit I could no longer afford and think "wish I had the money". Generally this would happen on the days when I had my hair in a ponytail, spit-up on one shoulder and smudges of strawberry-sticky little hands elsewhere on my person -- when I was really feeling at the top of my game. I get what she is saying, and it's not nearly as judgmental the way some of the posters here are making it out to be.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 15, 2008 11:14 AM

And some of the other posters are off their meds today, apparently. Antipatrick, step away from the ledge!!

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 11:20 AM

Amelia: great choices. The thing is, do you ever see your husband?

I'm not trying to attack you or whatever - but other people make different choices than you, and possibly don't want to make the choices you have because they would like to see their husband once in a while.

My friend has three kids, oldest is almost 5. She wears as a badge of honor that they've never hired a babysitter to go out on a sat. night. Well, i find this really strange. I mean, isn't your relationship as important (some say more so - or you need the relationship to work in order to take care of the kids, etc) - as your kids?

Again, not attacking, just thinking that things are different for me. And so, things are different for others, and others may not think *your* lifestyle would work for them.

---last day is Thursday!!!! can't wait to be home with the kids....(ask me again in three months...)

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 11:21 AM

Haven't read all the comments...

Yes your daughter will bond with the caregivers. Ideally you would go for visits in the weeks & days leading up to the first day so that it is a familiar environment.

Second, if you are convinced in your own mind that this is right for your family, you just do it. If you are not convinced, I can imagine it would be difficult. But I am the primary breadwinner in our family and the best thing for our kids is for me to be in a position to support all of us financially and to have others look after them during the day. So I didn't really have qualms because I knew that what I was doing was actually best for them in the big picture.

Posted by: Green Mtns | April 15, 2008 11:21 AM

>Be nice. You can still be opinionated but there is no need to make Amy or anyone else feel badly.

I made the comment about not relating to the lack of showers and makeup. It was not intended to be mean.

IMO, it is not balanced as a mother or wife to be so focued on a toddler that there is no time to shower. It's not healthy for the child or marriage.

What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 11:21 AM

And it was horrible. I had been away with the oldest for a few days, and the youngest is now kinda clingy, so this morning he had a tantrum. I told him I'd spend the day with him on Friday, but it didn't work. :(

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 11:22 AM

leslie

"Be nice. You can still be opinionated but there is no need to make Amy or anyone else feel badly."

That's the risk of posting on the Web. Has Amy ever read this blog? There is not one post today that hasn't been expressed numerous times before on this blog.

Posted by: High School Confidential | April 15, 2008 11:23 AM

"What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?"

Whatever Leslie says....

Posted by: Huh? | April 15, 2008 11:25 AM

Dear Amy,

My 2 year old has been in day care since he was 3 months old and is doing great there. I agree with the other posters that it will take time for all of you to adjust but it will get better.

The only thing I wanted to add is that you mentioned you were considering a more home-based day care setting and I just want to caution you that they are much less regulated than the large day care centers. I know someone whose 10-month old got a skull fracture in a home-based center and suffered brain damage because the provider did not even tell the parents that the child had hurt themselves - the Mom noticed the child wasn't acting themselves and took them to the hospital. At our day care center even the tiniest bump on the head has to be documented on an incident report and they have a video camera in the room so if there were ever a question you could go back and review the tape.

I also want to reiterate that it is important to talk to the staff of the day care center about any concerns you have and make sure they address them to your satisfaction. If they don't, then I would look for somewhere else. But I think you need to give it at least a month before you decide for sure unless you get a really bad vibe about the place. I also agree that kids can pick up on your guilt and will play on it with more drama if you let them. Our son went through periods of separation anxiety where he would cry at drop off but 5 minutes later he was fine. This is a normal part of their development.

Anyway, good luck, I know it is a difficult transition but I think with some time you will all adjust and be fine.

Posted by: SoontobeMomof2 | April 15, 2008 11:26 AM

IMO, it is not balanced as a mother or wife to be so focued on a toddler that there is no time to shower.

I remember when my son was 1 and 2 years old, he was so mischievious that he could not be left alone for any time at all. So taking a shower, when I was alone at home with him was a problem. I had to wait for him to be asleep. Sometimes, I would put him in his exersaucer in the bathroom with me while I took a bath, but that meant lugging the thing to the bathroom, which was a pain. Sometimes, my mother would come over to watch him while I took a shower. I don't think it's such a stretch to see the challenge.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 11:26 AM

Stop this snarkiness or I will have to start deleting!

Be nice. You can still be opinionated but there is no need to make Amy or anyone else feel badly.

(I feel like I am lecturing my children.)

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 11:08 AM


Are you for real? Now the standard is,"nice"? Sheesh. Decide whether the bar is high or low, but it will be at pablum-level if all you want is a string of, "you go, girl" messages. I don't consider Amelia's comments "nice", but they are a valid contribution nonetheless because they challenge underlying assumptions.

I also was offended by the makeup and Coach bag comment because it indicated a level of self-righteousness about Amy's first two years at home. Now that she "has" to work, and "has no choice", it's acceptable, e.g., she sees herself as still walking in the light and not going over to the dark side. Right. I'd have thought that Leslie of all people would have appreciate that sort of distinction and attitude merits a slap on the wrist, whether or not it's "nice". Contrary to popular belief (hint - antiPATRICK, whose posts apparently qualify as "nice"), this is not Kindergarten.

Posted by: MN | April 15, 2008 11:28 AM

Emily

"Sometimes, my mother would come over to watch him while I took a shower. I don't think it's such a stretch to see the challenge."

I do. Stick the kid in the shower with you. For Pete's sake! Would you like to sleep with someone who skipped daily bathing for several years?

Posted by: Confused | April 15, 2008 11:33 AM

"As a former SAHM, I can relate to what Amy is trying to say. Most of the time I loved being at home with my kids and didn't care that my clothes were wash and wear stuff like yoga pants, jeans, shorts and t-shirts. (Sexy, I know.)"

There's nothing wrong with jeans and shorts when you stay at home. I think it was the "can't shower daily or put make up on for 2 1/2 years" that got to some people.

That has nothing to do with affording new clothes. I see the point she was trying to make, but it smacked a little bit of "whoa is me" when it's really just not that big of a deal.

It just seemed like an exaggeration for emphasis -- and if it wasn't, most people wonder why it would be so hard to take a shower and put make up on. (Of course, unless there were circumstances like a disabled child who really needed constant attention.)

And yes, before anyone jumps on me, I have two kids.

Posted by: Not trying to be snarky | April 15, 2008 11:35 AM

Or get up really early, or take a shower after the kid goes to bed. Or when he/she is napping. Yes, I had a great napper, but seriously, it can be done.

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 11:36 AM

I agree with Arlmom, and by the way Leslie, "snarkiness" - a term maybe a teenager would use.

I have three children, wanted three children and love my three children. I tried to tap into the real tragedy of this blog and I just couldn't get there. Gee, something tells me her kid is going to be fine. The hand wringing is a little insipid.

Posted by: evk | April 15, 2008 11:37 AM

Amy,

Listen to your child. I put my daughter into a daycare and she basically cried all day. They weren't doing anything wrong there, she just didn't FEEL right there.

We tried another daycare the next week and she was happy there for years.

Go with your instincts, and teach her to use hers.

Posted by: VA Mom | April 15, 2008 11:39 AM

Would you like to sleep with someone who skipped daily bathing for several years?

Oh for cryin' out loud. No one is talking years on end without a bath. I just said that it can be a challenge for a while when the kids are little. Anyone with kids knows that. Get a grip.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 11:39 AM

Amelia: you said -

"and still it seemed sad to me, b/c they all wanted to go home."

Which kind of implies, if not basically states outright, that ALL kids would be happier at home. Especially as before that you stated it made you choose your swing-shift lifestyle.

Of course all or nearly all kids want to go home at the end of the day. If they didn't, how awful would that be? I am happier at home in many ways, but it doesn't mean I don't enjoy my job or didn't enjoy school.

When I was working first in daycare and then as an ed assistant in my early 20s, I had the same thought from time to time - that the kids would be happier at home. I also over-inflated my importance and underestimated the amount of time they really did have at home with their families.

Also when I was at home with my son, and in my SAHM friend's houses, I noticed that kids have good and bad days at home too. (Gasp!) Even with fully engaged and happy parents.

Also "at home" meant being at playgrounds and playgroups and things and guess what? There were both happy and unhappy moments there too. Worst bite my child ever got was in our home from a friend - not at his daycare.

Being at home all day doesn't automatically produce a functional family or stable environment. It's great that your life works for you and kudos to you, but let's not pretend that daycare is just a full day of misery and time at home is all sunshine and roses. Just like we wouldn't assume that all daycare kids are socialized and all homecared kids are rude.

Posted by: Shandra | April 15, 2008 11:40 AM

Altmom:

Limited family time and limited couple time is definitely a huge factor and so obviously my choice is not going to be everyone's - nor was I saying that it should be.

And if you and your child(ren) are happy, then there is no issue about child care, is there?

But on THIS post, the mom is miserable and the child is miserable and so I was suggesting another option that also has huge drawbacks - but that has resulted in an overall happy family and might sometimes work.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 11:41 AM

WorkingMomX

"There would be times, however, when I'd see a woman who was dressed to kill in an outfit I could no longer afford and think "wish I had the money".

Did you you have "dress to kill" outfits in the closet from your pre-baby days? No money issue there.

Posted by: Confused | April 15, 2008 11:42 AM

I think it's premature to get upset on the first day (parent, not child, I mean). Give it a couple weeks at least. But I understand the feeling that one's child is unhappy and how hard that makes it to focus on work. I think if the child has not settled in after a couple months, then a different situation is in order. My older child was very extroverted and loved daycare but did poorly in a particular preschool. I switched schools and now he's happy.

Posted by: jcadam | April 15, 2008 11:44 AM

"The only thing I wanted to add is that you mentioned you were considering a more home-based day care setting and I just want to caution you that they are much less regulated than the large day care centers."

They are - and for many of us this is a plus. You get what you seek. If a large center works for you because your greatest concern is injury, all power to you. A true love for children, especially young ones, impeccable judgment, stimulation, consistency, and developmentally appropriate creative, play and educational activities were our biggest priorities. Lysol-cleanliness and an industrial-quality kitchen were 5 and 6 on our list. As a result, we checked out a variety of options in our price-range. One of our children did not function well in big environments. Bonding wasn't going to happen because of turnover (we asked a lot of questions about the longevity of both the team members in charge of his age group and the kids in that group), shift changes and the preoccupation with following the schedule and the voluminous regulations applicable to centers. There are great centers with lower adult/student ratios. They were not in our price range, though.

In the home-based environment we selected, our son was one of only four kids and time was spent in coloring, cutting and pasting, instead of in line with 8 kids to go the restroom. The kids in his group stayed until they enrolled in school - bonding did not only occur with the mom, but with the other kids, which, for our sensitive child was a big deal. For our family, at that time, for that child, home-based care was the way to go.

To each his own, but know what your priorities are before you go shopping and be slow to slam the choices of other parent's based on their equally valid priorities.

Posted by: Not so fast | April 15, 2008 11:46 AM

"WorkingMomX

"There would be times, however, when I'd see a woman who was dressed to kill in an outfit I could no longer afford and think "wish I had the money".

Did you you have "dress to kill" outfits in the closet from your pre-baby days? No money issue there.

Posted by: Confused | April 15, 2008 11:42 AM


LOL!! Thank you for the laugh. Confused, I have to tell you that while I am down 15 pounds past my pre baby weight, my body has changed in mysterious ways and I no longer fit in many things I could wear before babies. Not to mention, they're not exactly the height of style. Even my old shoes don't fit -- my feet went from a 7 to an 8 and never went back again. The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

Hey atlanta mom, tell us why you're leaving work to be at home again. You may have done so on a previous discussion that I missed, sorry.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 15, 2008 11:50 AM

But, amelia, it's not that everyone's miserable - it takes time to adjust and it looks like this blog was written after three days. Hardly time enough for anyone to get used to anything.

Changes always take some time. If over time Amy doesn't think it's for her, then more power to her, but whatever transitions there are take time to adjust to. For her child as well.

This sounds like a 'buyer's remorse' kinda think - where she now thinks everything she wanted was wrong.

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 11:50 AM

Amy - I agree with the sound advice given above regarding giving it time and establishing routines, and I wish you the best as you get adjusted to your new situation.

Like some others, though, this quote jumped out at me from the intro:

I have a community of wonderful women surrounding me who relate to my priorities: We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse.

The way I initially read that, it sounded like you were saying the community of women who also were at home wanted their kids to be happy and comfortable, while those who went back to work did so because they did not care about their kids being happy and comfortable but because they cared more about new eye shadow and Coach purses.

I can't imagine that that is what you believe, but if it is, please know the following: There are many of us who work not because we value material things but because we need to work in order to afford the basics - food, clothing, shelter - or to help support family (ill parents etc) and we live quite modestly. None of the working mothers I know own anything like a coach purse and I can't point to anything in my wardrobe that post-dates the birth of my 4 year old. We mothers who went back to work after only a few months rather than after several years want our children to be happy and comfortable just as much as those of you lucky enough to be able to spend years at home with the kids.

Posted by: WVA | April 15, 2008 11:51 AM

Today's guest blog was poorly written. It deserves everything it gets.

Posted by: Hemimgway's muse | April 15, 2008 11:59 AM

Workingmomx: I asked if I could go part time. They told me: great, we'll work something out. Then they hemmed and hawed, and I needed to know, so as to ensure our situation would work (we would have gotten a summer au pair, but the agency needed to know).

The employee handbook has all sorts of information about part time employees. But there is not one part time employee in the company. So they didn't know how to make that work.

Then they said they'd bring me on as a contractor, but didn't know how to figure that out. So I gave them an end date, of Thursday. And they said they'd call in the fall when there will be work for me (as I know there will be). And I will be sitting at home, waiting for the phone to ring ;)

Realistically, I will probably be going back part time somewhere in the fall - there are several opportunities that I could take advantage of, that I will begin looking into the end of July/beginning of august. School starts the second week in august, so it's not like the summer lasts all summer anyway....;)

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 12:00 PM

Ok, I wasn't going to post on this, but not being able to take a shower? and apply makeup? really?

Not being self-rightous, but I have always been able to find the time. Most days it means getting up 30 minutes before I know the kids will be up. I agree with the other posters who said it is balance. I give up 30 minutes of sleep to feel better throughout the day b/c I took time for myself.

Sure I would like to have the ability to be a SAHM, but I knew when we were planning a family that it would not be the best option. We had to start daycare at the end of my 12 weeks of maternity leave.

On daycare days, I get up at 4am to make sure I have time to shower, apply minimal makeup and feel my best, so then I can focus on my children when they wake up, and still make the 6am drop off. And... Date nights with my husband our a must! We are not only parents, but a couple too, and are relationship needs time and attention.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 12:02 PM

You can be opinionated and still be respectful.

Hey, it was a priority for me to take a shower every day when my kids were small (mostly just to wash off smelly sour breastmilk and take a short break for myself).

But most new moms I know struggle to even find the 10 minutes to shower.

I had no problem leaving my baby in a carseat in the bathroom, screaming, while I showered, but apparently my skin is thicker than a lot of other moms. So give them a break. It is hard enough carrying a baby for nine months, giving birth, recovering, trying to master this whole sustain-a-child's-every-need thing, without the village chorusing about how you are a loser if you can't bathe every day.

I have to say, now that my kids are older and I work largely from home, daily showers are far lower on my priority list!

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 12:08 PM

"Ok, I wasn't going to post on this, but not being able to take a shower? and apply makeup? really? "

It's the standard SAHM martyr rap. "I'm so INVOLVED with my kid that I am a slob." Yawn.

Posted by: No sale here | April 15, 2008 12:10 PM

I gotta say, the "We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse" line also rubbed me the wrong way. Because it plays into the old stereotype that moms who work when they don't absolutely haaaave to are choosing makeup and handbags over their kids' happiness and comfort. And that the only way kids will be happy and comfortable is to be home full-time with mom.

I know a lot of women who work by choice, and not a single one of it does it so she can afford name-brand fashion accessories. In reality, it's the other way around: because I work, I have the disposable income to pay for the occasional retail treat.

I also know a lot of kids who are very happy in daycare -- my own included (e.g., my extroverted daughter who would go stir-crazy home with me all day; my boy who frequently does NOT want to go home at night, and who insists on personally saying goodbye to everyone). And there's no question but that if that changed -- if what we are doing wasn't working for our kids -- that we'd make whatever changes were necessary to fix it.

You can talk about how hard it is to adjust to working life without justifying how you "had" to do it, or making backhanded disparaging comments about other working moms. But then again, I suspect that opening paragraph explains everything that follows: if you really, honestly feel that being home all day with you is the only thing that's going to make your child happy, and if you feel like a failure because you can't afford to do that, then your kid will absolutely pick up on your fears and be just as miserable in daycare as you expect her to be.

Posted by: Laura | April 15, 2008 12:11 PM

Shandra and Altmom:

Ok, I give. I'm wrong.

The child will get over it and other options are inferior to day care.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 12:12 PM

Aren't we raising children to learn to be independent? Shouldn't they be able to do things like stay away from Mom or Dad for a period of time? Do you want to raise children who are so sheltered, so coached, so relentlessly observed and cosseted that they will never be independent? Or are you looking for parental job security? I don't think the children who are raised to look to Mom/Dad for every solution to every problem will be the ones we want to run this country someday.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 12:13 PM

Oh, I'm already emotional as it is! I feel your heartache!!

Steph

Posted by: Steph at Adventures In Babywearing | April 15, 2008 12:13 PM

I was in the pricipal's office at my kids elementary school this past October. It was the beginning of the day and the buses were still arriving. There were a number of children that came straight to the office, crying at being left at school. The secretary told me that these kids have been doing this since the start of the school year - almost 2 months.

Separation anxiety isn't limited to day care. Each child reacts differently. Some may take longer to adjust.

Posted by: prarie dog | April 15, 2008 12:14 PM

leslie

"But most new moms I know struggle to even find the 10 minutes to shower"

The kid is 2 1/2.

Posted by: Huh? | April 15, 2008 12:14 PM

Amy,
I can only imagine how awful you must have felt when you picked your daughter up that first day. I give you so much credit for going back to work that second day. That must have been difficult!

I have 2 girls in daycare and absolutely love it! I do, however, remember that first week. The first time I left my older daughter in day care I went home and cried for about 2 hours. It did get better and by the end of the first month things were good.

I thought it would be no big deal to leave my second daughter as I'd done it before. WRONG!! I went home and cried for about 2 hours again. This time it only took me about 2 weeks to adjust.

I love working outside the home and love my daycare. At the same time I know it is very difficult to leave your children with people you and they do not know.

Hang in there. You will find what works for you and your family. I have no doubts that you will all work through this difficult time. Good luck!

Posted by: kbj | April 15, 2008 12:15 PM

FWIW, I don't even remember anything that happened to me before the age of 3. This child may be sobbing now, but the trauma and "emotional manipulation" will not last. I think the parents need more help separating here than the children.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 12:15 PM

"Antipatrick, step away from the ledge!!"

Funny, I just as soon tell him to jump.

Posted by: Go Dog Go! | April 15, 2008 12:18 PM

"I don't think the children who are raised to look to Mom/Dad for every solution to every problem will be the ones we want to run this country someday."

Babsy1, hate to tell you, but the OVERWHELMING majority of people running this country probably had stay at home moms, including (I will bet) all of the current presidential candidates.

Posted by: WorkingmomX | April 15, 2008 12:22 PM

"Shandra and Altmom:

Ok, I give. I'm wrong.

The child will get over it and other options are inferior to day care. "

Oh please, no one was saying that. If you read it that way, you really are missing out on the core conversation here.

I personally was saying that lobbing the "I worked in a daycare and all the kids were sad" bomb is not fair - and not, in my experience, true.

Amy sounds like an engaged and thoughtful mum and will work it out. But going to daycare IS a transition. If your kids have not yet had to make such a major transition (and Amy's hasn't) it's hard to know what is transition trouble and what is bigger than that.

Some kids make this transition to school. Or to university. Or when they get divorced and have never lived alone. We all have transitions. Transitions themselves are not the issue NECESSARILY. It is a hard balance to know which ones to support and which to avoid. And it is very individual.

And as parents when we make a choice, we often shut the door on another one. And it is really really HARD to go through them. Amy's working now, and it sucks to have to go through this. But it might equally suck to lose her home or something. We can't know. But we can try to refrain from "the mommy wars" and beat her up over her choice. And I'm sorry but your post came across that way to me.

As for which care is better - it depends. I don't quite get why saying that it depends is so difficult for you to hear.

Posted by: Shandra | April 15, 2008 12:26 PM

WorkingmomX

"Babsy1, hate to tell you, but the OVERWHELMING majority of people running this country probably had stay at home moms, including (I will bet) all of the current presidential candidates."

And Judas & Hitler & Stalin ...

Posted by: Huh? | April 15, 2008 12:27 PM

Babsy1, hate to tell you, but the OVERWHELMING majority of people running this country probably had stay at home moms, including (I will bet) all of the current presidential candidates.

Yes, but did their mothers watch over their every breath until they were 25? Most of the mothers I grew up with were SAHMs, and somehow the kids ran around, played with other kids, went to sitters and some daycare, and learned that separation is part of life. I still think this is mostly a parent problem, not a kid problem. I think the parents need to see themselves as more than babyraisers.

BTW, how's that generation raised by SAHMs been doing with the country?

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 12:28 PM

It's called a period of adjustment.

Posted by: Mountain out of a molehill | April 15, 2008 12:29 PM

"Funny, I just as soon tell him to jump."

Well, that would qualify as stepping away -- far away -- from the ledge, wouldn't it? Actually, not a bad idea.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 12:31 PM

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think almost all the candidates (and certainly the current administration) are idiots. But I'm just saying it's not an indicator.

Benevolent neglect is my mantra for SAHMs. Shhh, kids, mama's having a martini. It's 5:00 somewhere. Go outside and play.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 15, 2008 12:31 PM

"I think the parents need more help separating here than the children."

I do not mean this pejoratively, but I do think this is probably true in many cases. It's as hard for some parents to adjust to the idea of daycare as it is for the kids. Nothing wrong with that though. We love our kids and go through a certain amount of angst in this transition. Parents who go through this don't worry me at all. I would be more worried about parents who don't go through this at all.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 12:34 PM

"Funny, I just as soon tell him to jump."

Just to be clear. Anyone who disagrees with your opinion should kill him- or herself?? Wow, what an enlightened response. Do you suppose that you could actually formulate an argument, back up your viewpoint with facts, and try to convince those with opposing views that you think they are wrong?? Oh, no. I'm sorry. That would require intelligence. It's so much easier to make ad hominem attacks. Please. GO AWAY. Come back when you're an adult.

Posted by: antipATRICK | April 15, 2008 12:35 PM

Antipatrick - considering some of your deranged posts, your outrage is rich.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 12:37 PM

Brava WorkingmomX! The more we entertain and spoon-feed these kids, the less they learn, the less they are intellectually stimulated. And the more frustrated the moms get. Even the experts no longer recommend rocking kids to sleep. Lets let them develop those little minds, those coping skills.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 12:39 PM

Amy -- thanks for a great and honest post about a difficult and emotional time in your life -- and your daughter's too. I hope that you'll post an update in six months or so -- so we can find out how you both ultimatley handled the transition. Your perspective looking back could spark another good discussion. (And hang in there!)

Posted by: Arlington Dad | April 15, 2008 12:39 PM

Barak was rasied by a single mom and his grandparents, all of whom worked.

BTW, what is wrong with Coach purses and eye shadow? I don't think it makes you a bad mother to work for a nicer lifestyle, which includes Coach purses, nice vacations, ballet lessons, private school, etc.

Just like it doesn't automatically make you a good mother if you live in an older home, never eat out and drive a 10 yr. old car.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 12:49 PM

Not to mention Sadaam Hussein.

Come on, your success in life has nothing to do with whether your mom worked or stayed home. Nada. There are 300 million people in the U.S. right now. To take a few presidential candidates and make a sweeping statement is ridiculous.

And it just feeds our cultural obsession that moms are responsible for everything.

I've yet to see people froth at the mouth over whether a dad's employment status affects a baby's IQ, causes disciplinary problems, gets kids into Harvard, NASA or the White House.

We do our best with our kids, and then if we really love them, we let them go out and live their own lives.

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 12:59 PM

Wow, amelia. I was actually thinking to myself, as I was typing my last reply, hey - she disagrees with me, and yet, we are keeping this pretty civil. If I attacked you, please show me where, because that was not my intention.

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 1:00 PM

And, realistically, if *my mom* had live in help til I was 5, I suspect that all those prez candidates you are talking about might have had moms who had help as well. Do you NOT think Barbara Bush senior had ANY help at home? Please.

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 1:01 PM

Okay, y'all, so we're clear, I am NOT saying that SAHMs churn out better human beings than working moms, nor am I saying that you have to be the product of a SAHM to be high up on the food chain in government. It's merely a generational thing, nothing more. And as I said before -- not an indicator of how a person turns out, despite what angrypATRICK would like us to believe.

Posted by: WorkingmomX | April 15, 2008 1:05 PM

Well, my mom did not work outside the home, but was never home for me after school. She came home about 5/5:30 or so every day, made dinner, whatever. She was out and about living her own life.

Oh, yes, she did this since I was in first grade. I'm the youngest of three.

So was she a SAHM or not? Does it make a difference in who I am?

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 1:13 PM

My wife has 2 Coach purses!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 1:17 PM

"I've yet to see people froth at the mouth over whether a dad's employment status affects a baby's IQ, causes disciplinary problems, gets kids into Harvard, NASA or the White House."

I think it's pretty much a given that Dad's employment status can significantly increase one's chances of getting into Harvard or, apparently, the White House. That may be why people don't "froth at the mouth" over it.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | April 15, 2008 1:20 PM

"My wife has 2 Coach purses!"

That contain the latest shades of eye shadow!

And, his wife bathes daily!

Posted by: PTL | April 15, 2008 1:22 PM

bathes twice a day!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 1:24 PM

"Computer whiz reprograms video game to propose to girlfriend."

from Yahoo news

"Bernie Peng reprogrammed Tammy Li's favorite video game, "Bejeweled," so a ring and a marriage proposal would show up on the screen when she reached a certain score.

Li reached the needed score -- and said yes.

"I thought it was pretty cool, in a nerdy way," Peng told The Star-Ledger of Newark.


Posted by: how romatic! | April 15, 2008 1:29 PM

"My wife has 2 Coach purses!"

Posted by: | April 15, 2008 1:17 PM

Honey, I told you to stay off my blog.

Posted by: Laura | April 15, 2008 1:33 PM

I have 3 Coach purses - one for each child.

They were "push presents" from my DH.

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 15, 2008 1:40 PM

Amy, having had the pleasure of meeting you and hearing you talk about (and to!) your daughter, there is no doubt in my mind that your #1 goal is to do what is best for her. As both of my parents worked full-time as teachers, my sister and I were in daycare from the time we were 6 weeks through Kindergarten.

When we weren't in daycare, our parents spent 100% quality time with us, taking us on vacations, coaching our sports teams, taking us to and from swimming practice, teaching us how to play tennis, going on daytrips... and as adults, neither my sister or I would EVER say that we didn't feel like we didn't spend enough quality time with our parents growing up.

As you know, now my sister and I work full-time with our mom from home. My family is incredibly close. So to read some of these commenters saying that you children must have a SAH parent in order to become well-adjusted adults really angers me.

In fact, during my husband's graduate studies in education, he learned that studies indicate that the time in children's lives when they most need a parent to be home with them is in middle school.

And I am sure that if, in 10 or so years, you ask your daughter if she remembers being dropped off that first day, and how traumatic it was for you, she probably won't remember it at all! I think a lot of times, it is much worse for the parents that it is for the child.

Anyway, what I was trying to say before I started typing this novel is that you are such a fantastic, loving, wonderful mother. The people commenting here negatively without knowing you as a person are taking a lot of things out of context. I know the whole daycare situation will get easier as time goes on, and you find your stride as a family.

Hang in there... and I am always here for you to chat!

xo,
Jane

Posted by: Jane - Pinks & Blues | April 15, 2008 1:42 PM

So, is she deleting posts or not?

Because we have this:

All I want is login posting. Is that too much to ask?? Oh, and I am not on the ledge. That spot is reserved for all you daycare parents that are abdicating your true responsibilities. Oh you little daycare children, don't maim your neighbor's cat!!! It's a slippery slope. And if you are already wetting your bed, oh MY GOD, that's two out of three. You might as well start killing humans now. Talk to an FBI profiler. They know what the indicators are. And if your child fits them, it might be best to euthanize that child before it kills.

Posted by: antipATRICK | April 15, 2008 11:47 AM

and then we get told that any disagreement must be respectful.

Yo, Leslie - not everyone's ideas merit respect. See antiPATRICK's suggestion of euthanizing babies above for an extreme example.

Maybe you'll let us all know what the standards actually are for posting, when you decide them. Your choices seem all across the spectrum today.

Posted by: Fiddle Dee Dee. | April 15, 2008 1:44 PM

Oops, that should have read:

"... and as adults, neither my sister or I would EVER say that we feel like we didn't spend enough quality time with our parents growing up."

In other words, we feel like we have always had quality time with our parents! :)

xo,
Jane

Posted by: Jane - Pinks & Blues | April 15, 2008 1:45 PM

what is a "push" present?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 1:46 PM

Jane - Pinks & Blues

"In fact, during my husband's graduate studies in education, he learned that studies indicate that the time in children's lives when they most need a parent to be home with them is in middle school. "

Uh, oh. My kids are screwed.

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 15, 2008 1:54 PM

I have heard that it's important to have someone at home supervising when the kids are in high school, during the 3 pm to 6 pm hours, when they are most likely to be having sex and doing other questionable things while home alone before the parents come home from work. Yikes.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 1:56 PM

"what is a "push" present?"

It's a gift for popping one out.

Posted by: Corky | April 15, 2008 1:58 PM

Amy - I started DD at age 2 1/2 at family day care. She had barely been out of my sight the first 2 1/2 years.

It got easier after the first three months. She knew the routine and even asked to be picked up last to have more play time. At the beginning she cried a lot but that is normal and natural.

Four years later I am glad I went back to work. I have a happy and healthy 6 1/2 year old who rarely gets ill. She is normally easy to please and eager to please other children both older and younger.

Her current day care, which she goes to after kindergarten ends, says she is sweet and they are happy she will be spending most of the summer with them.

Posted by: shdd | April 15, 2008 1:59 PM

Yup, me: in middle school, after school, watching TV/doing homework.

Sister: in high school, upstairs having sex with boyfriend.

Mom comes home to find them.

No one ever tells little sister (me) but somehow, she figures it out.

But, realistically, if it wasn't at home, it would have been somewhere else. Do I have to sit at home with my kids after school every second to ensure they are not doing drugs and having sex?

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 1:59 PM

WHEN Jena Slosberg of Bedford, N.H., gave birth in March, she endured a labor that lasted 17 hours. But her discomfort was ultimately worth it, quite apart from the arrival of her daughter, Marin. In the recovery room, her husband, Paul, presented her with a pair of diamond earrings.

"I was on cloud nine," Ms. Slosberg said. "It was the perfect present to make a frazzled, sleep-deprived, first-time mommy feel absolutely glamorous."

She added, "I wonder what 17 hours of labor will get me next time?"

In a more innocent age, new mothers generally considered their babies to be the greatest gift imaginable. Today, they are likely to want some sort of tangible bonus as well.

This bonus goes by various names. Some call it the "baby mama gift." Others refer to it as the "baby bauble." But it's most popularly known as the "push present."

That's "push" as in, "I the mother, having been through the wringer and pushed out this blessed event, hereby claim my reward." Or "push" as in, "I've delivered something special and now I'm pushing you, my husband/boyfriend, to follow suit."

"It's more and more an expectation of moms these days that they deserve something for bearing the burden for nine months, getting sick, ruining their body," said Linda Murray, executive editor of BabyCenter.com. "The guilt really gets piled on."

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 15, 2008 1:59 PM

To all of the comments so far on my post, I say "wow". The wheels are already spinning for my follow-up post. Can't wait to update you all on how things have been going over the past week.

I really have nothing too witty to say here. The only thing I will say is that the majority of you do not know me personally or know my situation and if you left a comment that came from your heart and your own personal experiences, I thank you. Obviously, everyone has the right to express their own fears. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and it's interesting to me to read what you all have to say.

Oh and don't worry about anyone being too harsh, it really doesn't bother me. Some of those comments really made me laugh - and that was much needed. :) You can't possibly take them too seriously when they don't even leave a link back to who they are.

Posted by: Amy (the guest poster) | April 15, 2008 2:00 PM

I once got a Coach purse as a gift from my husband. We definitely could not afford it, and it seemed to be guilt induced. I wanted to return it, but ultimately did not, because I did not want to dis his gift. In the end, it just meant that I did without some other things, which in the end, I would have preferred -- and sometimes I feel rather ridiculous with my very expensive purse, but oh well. He seems to think I deserve it, whatever that means.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 2:01 PM

Isn't there a Coach outlet?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 2:07 PM

But if you don't ever buy another purse, then it's not expensive at all - think about how much you have 'saved' on purses....;)

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 2:08 PM

Jane - Pinks & Blues

"And I am sure that if, in 10 or so years, you ask your daughter if she remembers being dropped off that first day, and how traumatic it was for you, she probably won't remember it at all!"

Wish I had your crystal ball - what are tomorrow's winning lottery numbers? Please come to the track with me. My treat.

The child just might remember that first day. I recall events from that age and earlier. You may want to ease back on your predictions. Your credibility just dropped to zero with me.

"you are such a fantastic, loving, wonderful mother."

Gosh! My IQ just dropped 10 points due to a sugar rush.

Now you're a mind reader. Oy! How could you possibly know all that based on your limited contact?

Posted by: Tsk, tsk | April 15, 2008 2:10 PM

Honey, if your measure of a reward for producing a child after all that labor is a Coach bag, you need to shop at higher end stores. A child will cost you over $200,000 to raise to age 18. A Coach bag costs less than $500. Tell DH to spring for the Louis Vuitton or the Prada at the least. Of course, if you're staying at home smothering the kids, you will have no need of the higher priced bag, and nowhere to go - so stick with Coach.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:15 PM

"She added, "I wonder what 17 hours of labor will get me next time?""

A pearl necklace!

Posted by: Two Jewels | April 15, 2008 2:15 PM

"smothering the kids" does not mean killing them - or maybe it does, killing their intellectual growth and independence.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:18 PM

1:17pm, Really, Coach purses are actually 3rd rate quality. Owning such items is nothing to bragg about.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 2:19 PM

"The only thing I will say is that the majority of you do not know me personally or know my situation and if you left a comment that came from your heart and your own personal experiences, I thank you."

And if we left a comment that came from our heads and our own personal brains, you wouldn't thank us? What does page 13 of that Junior League manual say?

No, she could not possibly be more condescending. No one is seeking thanks, but an intelligent response is always welcome.

Posted by: antiPATRICK's Cousin | April 15, 2008 2:22 PM

I actually don't measure the reward of having a child with any material item. The kid is the reward in itself. And some of us view working AND staying home as neither neglecting nor smothering, but just doing what is right for us in our particular circumstances.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 2:23 PM

OK, Leslie, I just re-read the posts right before you posted "Stop this snarkiness or I will have to start deleting! Be nice. You can still be opinionated but there is no need to make Amy or anyone else feel badly." I and one other person had both just commented on not being able to relate to the post, and come right back with this. Wow. I stopped reading this blog for a while because I was annoyed by it, just started reading again recently, now this.

I wasn't judging Amy for her choices, I was commenting on the overly dramatic way of writing about something that every mom in the world has eventually done. And if you want to talk about snarkiness, start with the guest post. "We want our kids to be happy and comfortable, and that is more important to us than the newest shade of eye shadow or Coach purse." Nice slur on working moms, I guess we don't care as much about our kids' happiness and comfort as she does about hers.

Posted by: Arlmom | April 15, 2008 2:23 PM


Amy (the guest poster)

"You can't possibly take them too seriously when they don't even leave a link back to who they are."

Whom?

Wow! Haughty arrogance is always a good way to muster support! Where do I sign up?

Amy, your links are BLOCKED on my computer by my employer's software. I don't have a link to provide you.

REALLY looking forward to your follow-up post. Hope it's much better written.

Posted by: Straight from the heart | April 15, 2008 2:25 PM

Babsy1, well said. It's a wonder that anyone would think that a Coach bag has anything with luxury.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 2:27 PM

WAHM at 10:46

an amazing lady named Sylvia who took her under her wing - literally.

Literally? Only if she was a bird, an airplane, a building addition, etc... Otherwise, the right word is "figuratively."

Posted by: Language police | April 15, 2008 2:27 PM

I frankly don't like the idea of linking our posts, because it would give our email addressses to the world. And I get more than enough spam. So antipATRICK, I'm against it. And yes, this entire blog has been banal and silly. Can we discuss something more interesting?

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:30 PM

Altmom:

Sorry I was dismissive. I wasn't trying to flame the mommy wars. I work outside the home and always have. I was only presenting the impact that working in an expensive, well-funded and loving day care atmosphere had on ME. Not saying that would be the reaction of every mother and every child - but the child in THIS post seemed to be suffering. It reminded me of those children back in the early 1980's that I watched.

In fact, it may be easier on children who start daycare younger - as babies. Age 3 or 4 might be tougher on the children b/c they have the comparison.

But - ok, I can also admit that I might be wrong.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 2:34 PM

Emily

"I actually don't measure the reward of having a child with any material item. The kid is the reward in itself. "

You don't have to sleep with my DH to get a baby.

Posted by: Yuck | April 15, 2008 2:35 PM

Not trying to be snarky 11:35 AM

"whoa is me"

That must mean, Stop me before I mangle cliches again.

Posted by: Language police | April 15, 2008 2:36 PM

"You don't have to sleep with my DH to get a baby."

Yeah, well, neither do you. If you find him so repulsive, then you shouldn't be having babies with him anyway.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 2:38 PM

"Babsy1, well said. It's a wonder that anyone would think that a Coach bag has anything with luxury. "

How about pricey fabric for bedroom window treatments?

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 15, 2008 2:38 PM

Coach bags ceased to be luxury items when teenagers began carrying them, and they became available in patterns. The old leather ones are still fabulous, but are rare. Language police, you are wonderful!

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:38 PM

You can never go wrong with silk, lined with blackout fabric. But avoid pinch pleats, which will always look dated.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:40 PM

I'm against it. And yes, this entire blog has been banal and silly. Can we discuss something more interesting?

Ok. Like what? Maybe like how Bentleys have become so middle class lately, or how hard it is to get good hired help, or maybe even how caviar is not what it used to be anymore? Is that more up your alley?

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 2:41 PM

Amelia: but, really, it had only been a few days, and everyone needs transition time. I agree with you that at some point, there would be the 'hey, this isn't working for our kid, let's try something different.' Personally, I don't think a few days is enough time. what 'enough' is is different for everyone, though, in the long run.

And, for those who think: oh, no, how dramatic, again, this post seems to have been written after a few days, when all the emotions of the change are still very raw - so being 'overly' dramatic wouldn't seem to me to be completely out of the ordinary.

Posted by: atlmom | April 15, 2008 2:42 PM

babsy1

"You can never go wrong with silk, lined with blackout fabric. But avoid pinch pleats, which will always look dated."

What do I do if DH won't go for this?

Posted by: Chittybangbang | April 15, 2008 2:44 PM

What's a Coach purse?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 2:45 PM

Break his grandfather's watch and make him cry.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 2:45 PM

Chitty, I'm certain you'll think of a suitable bribe. (just kidding)

Language Police, I heart you.

Posted by: MN | April 15, 2008 2:47 PM

Ok. Like what? Maybe like how Bentleys have become so middle class lately, or how hard it is to get good hired help, or maybe even how caviar is not what it used to be anymore? Is that more up your alley?

Amelia,
Lets skip the Bentleys and caviar. I do have a wonderful cleaning lady, who makes my life easier, and whom I pay extremely well for the doing so. She's my only household help. I work more than 70 hours a week, volunteer at my local PBS station and my parish, and make all my birthday and Christmas gifts. Would you like me to knit you some socks?
Lets talk about the bigger issues about raising our children, not the anguish a parent felt at a normal part of life. How about talking about what values we instill in them? How do raise them to see merit in both the SAHM and the working mom? How do raise them to know that working means showing up on time and doing a solid day's work? How do we teach them to be kind to the people with whom we disagree?

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:47 PM

Emotions are so raw, it's hard enough to react to our own, let alone those of our children. Whenever I have one of those moments where my kids are emoting and my heart is breaking I just remember that every choice and option has its pluses and minuses. And I always try to do the equivalent of "count to ten" before changing whatever thoughtful decision I've made. Since I usually make "big decisions" only after taking all those pluses and minuses into account as best I can predict them.

I'd give any decision like day care at least a month or two before I rethought it. I also echo the comments of those who encourage you to maintain your "game face" around your daughter. She will do fine, whatever options you ultimately stick with.

Posted by: RosieReader | April 15, 2008 2:48 PM

I find it shocking to think that a DH is all that interested in the drapes. However, you might mention that the drapes in question would make sex more accessible, since you will have more privacy. Or just buy them with your own pool of money, not the money you use for joint expenses.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:49 PM

Straight from the heart at 2:25 PM:

"You can't possibly take them too seriously when they don't even leave a link back to who they are."

Whom?

No, it's "who." The verb "to be" takes the subjective case, not the objective.

Posted by: Language police | April 15, 2008 2:49 PM

Bentleys will never be middle class.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:52 PM

Babsy 2:47 PM nails correct usage for "whom" as a direct object and as the object of a preposition.

...whom I pay extremely well...

How do we teach them to be kind to the people with whom we disagree?

Posted by: Language police | April 15, 2008 2:54 PM

I live for grammar. Thanks from a fellow stickler, Language police.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:55 PM

Could we discuss the proper use of the apostrophe, one of my pet peeves? I've been known to walk out of lectures upon finding the apostrophe placed between a noun and an s, denoting the plural. Perhaps these people needed more time in school and less time with Mom hovering.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:58 PM

Babsy, the problem could be that in some cases Mom or Dad don't know the correct grammar usage.

Posted by: Language police | April 15, 2008 3:00 PM

Bentleys will never be middle class.

Right - and you and your 70 hour work week will never know the first thing about values and raising children.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:03 PM

Grammar Police, please give us a foolproof (if it exists) lesson in WHO and WHOM. I will be eternally grateful.

Trying to delete most offensive posts without deleting ones that merely creeping up to the edge of "most offensive." Sorry I missed the 11:47 missile. Will try to find and click away.

Thanks for having a thick skin, Amy! I laugh too, especially at the ones who don't even ID themselves. You cowards!

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 3:03 PM

Funny how all these moms and dads spend time correcting their kids homework, yet are shocked when the kids don't learn. I learned from making mistakes, and accepting the consequences doled out by Mom and Dad. I asked for assistance from Mom and Dad when I needed it, but I also searched for answers myself. I learned the most from my own efforts.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 3:05 PM

Babsy:

How am I involved in a caviar conversation? I was talking about being a day care worker.

Posted by: Amelia | April 15, 2008 3:05 PM

It's definitely Barack country out here. Lattes, anyone?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:05 PM

baby1 -- are we still talking about Amy's daughter -- because she's all of two and a half.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:11 PM

Thanks, anonymous poster. I'm pretty comfortable that I know your values as well as you know mine. BTW, that 70 hour week is spent working for your veterans in the hospital. You know, the ones you profess to honor, but never visit, never hire, and never include in your charitable donations. Did I also mention that I also teach nursing students in a semester critical care course (for free) and founded a city-wide year-long nursing continuing education program which is free of charge? I could make more money in the private sector, but I choose to do this.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 3:13 PM

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Posted by: Shakespeare's ghost | April 15, 2008 3:18 PM

"Could we discuss the proper use of the apostrophe"

Certainly. For one example, take the sentence, "Funny how all these moms and dads spend time correcting their kids homework, yet are shocked when the kids don't learn." In this case, the apostrophe belongs after the first "kids," to indicate the possessive ("kids' homework").

Hope that clears things up for you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:18 PM

Babsy1 - Does that mean you will now walk out on yourself? Your standards are high. Too bad you can't meet them yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:22 PM

Yes, I have erred! Time for me leave...thanks for the correction, Shakespeare.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 3:24 PM

To err is human...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:25 PM

Deborah Jeane Palfrey was convicted this afternoon of racketeering and other charges after a federal court jury determined that her upscale escort service was actually a front for prostitution.

Hmmmmm, wonder what brand of purse she had?

Posted by: a purse, a purse, a kingdom for a purse! | April 15, 2008 3:28 PM

She had a Prada. Trust me, I know.

Posted by: Spitzer | April 15, 2008 3:30 PM

Babsy1 -- The posters venom is the most sincere compliment imaginable. Love your posts (even the ones I think I might have to delete). Smart. Unique voice. Please come back...

Posted by: Leslie | April 15, 2008 3:43 PM

Sheesh, Leslie! Check your college freshman grammar textbook if you have a grammar question, or look up the info online on a grammar website.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:43 PM

why should Leslie look anything up when people here already know everything?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 3:49 PM

I find it curious that all the commenters here who have all the answers when it comes to childrearing are spending their day attacking Amy - and each other! - over every little thing.

If your values include vicious attacks and anonymous criticisms, your children are going to have a bit more to worry about than whether or not you put them in daycare!

Amy, I am glad you are getting a laugh out of all this, too! :)

Jane

Posted by: Jane - Pinks & Blues | April 15, 2008 3:56 PM

«And yes, this entire blog has been banal and silly. Can we discuss something more interesting?»
«Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 2:30 PM»

Cannot we all just get along?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | April 15, 2008 4:07 PM

"Sheesh, Leslie! Check your college freshman grammar textbook if you have a grammar question, . . . ."

Posted by: | April 15, 2008 3:43 PM

What kind of college worthy of the name has to teach grammar to its freshmen? Aren't they expected to have learned that stuff in prep school?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | April 15, 2008 4:11 PM

Lycée, mais oui! Why didn't I think of that? Please don't spill your caviar in my Bentley.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 4:16 PM

Wouldn't it be just delicious if Palfrey, now that she's been convicted, puts her client list on the web for all to see? Maybe after she's sentenced? What would she have to lose at this point?

Posted by: justgottaknow | April 15, 2008 4:25 PM

Maybe our Portias could tell us whether a Palfrey client could sue her for listing them. I guess they could file suit (for nuisance value), but wouldn't they just lose if it was true?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 4:35 PM

Amy, on the off chance you are still reading for more than grammar advice, I'd say two things in addition to some of the great advice you've gotten. First, work on getting rid of your own guilt. I say this as someone who struggled with guilt quite a lot when I went back to work - I still remember the night before I went into the office for my first full day back at work, and how sad I was, and how guilty and worried I felt. Working on letting go of that guilt and addressing my own issues that created that guilt (because it is self-created) has had a huge positive impact on my son and I both. Our kids have amazing antennae for our emotions. Release yourself from it and it will benefit your daughter too.

Second, I agree with MN about what you described when you picked your daughter up. When we started our son in a daycare, the first room he was in had great caregivers - he was uncertain and hated the goodbyes for a little bit, but he adjusted and it was fine. Then they moved him up to the next room when he had a birthday. We started seeing a similar picture to what you describe at drop off and pick up, and I wish we had acted sooner to change, because when we did change, the difference was huge. So trust your instinct, and don't be afraid to look for a different place.

Posted by: LizaBean | April 15, 2008 4:36 PM

Amy,
I, too, was a scared little one when my SAHM took me to preschool. In fact, I carried on so badly that my parents had to pull me out. I wasn't ready. But from your second post (above) stating that you'd like to update us, I'm assuming that your little girl is adjusting, and that you are too. I think it's tougher when a child has already enjoyed having a SAHM. My son started daycare when he was 3 months old...so he never had the luxury of knowing differently (kind of sad). But he was only in daycare 2 days a week...and the rest of the week was with my folks. Would I have wanted to be "raised" in daycare...no! And it was very tough to reconcile that my son would have to be a daycare kid. But I can tell you that as they get older it gets much easier. As I told my son, if he was home every day after school, he'd be part of the kiddie drama on the street. Now he's old enough to understand it.

Posted by: kattoo | April 15, 2008 5:00 PM

"If your values include vicious attacks and anonymous criticisms, your children are going to have a bit more to worry about than whether or not you put them in daycare!"

Dear Lord, Grow UP! Nothing here today has approached "vicious". A disagreement and different perspectives are part of engaging in the world. If you want to stay all cozy and tight in your gilded cage without ever encountering an opinion that differs from your own, you're welcome to do so. Don't let us stop you from your quest for blessed homogeneity.

Posted by: Back at ya | April 15, 2008 5:20 PM

Just remembering back some 37 years. I never went to daycare, but I cried my eyes out on the first day of school, when I was 5. Lots of drama. My parents felt awful. I really disrupted my class too. But in hindsight, it just does not seem too awful anymore. It was an adjustment I needed to make. And after a few weeks, I adjusted and loved school afterwards. I really do think that it is harder on the parents than on the kids, in the end.

Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2008 5:22 PM

"IMO, it is not balanced as a mother or wife to be so focued on a toddler that there is no time to shower. It's not healthy for the child or marriage."

IMO, it is better for me to shower every other day and sleep an extra 30 minutes every other day than to shower daily. Not showering doesn't mean not washing yourself.

"What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?"

What is the tipping point for being so focused on having a career that everything else suffers?

Priorities did change for me when I had children. I didn't care about "killer sexy clothes" and purses and make-up. Not caring about those things doesn't mean that I didn't still have a sense of self. My husband didn't mind the way I dressed. He was happy with my and our children and I was too. We've been married 25 years and children are both in college.

Posted by: different opinion | April 15, 2008 5:26 PM

"What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?"

What is the tipping point for being so focused on having a career that everything else suffers?

If you think your question poses the opposite of the first question, you are only revealing your biases. The opposite of poor grooming is not workaholism or selfishness, it's self-esteem and confidence.

Posted by: what twaddle | April 15, 2008 5:42 PM

so you're assuming that poor grooming is the same as being a mommy? sounds like you're the one with biases.

Posted by: twaddle indeed | April 15, 2008 5:47 PM

First of all -- WOOHOO on no registration.

Amy, I sympathize with the stress of returning to work and struggling with whether you made the right decision on childcare.

There has been some debate about home-based childcare here and I want to add my vote to those who have used it and found it to be a good fit. We were very fortunate to enroll our DD with a woman who had been running a licensed home day care for more than 25 years and had excellent references. DD started there when she was 12 weeks and left when she went to preschool at 3. The group of children was small (6) and the atmosphere homey. We had the added benefit of opting to pay this caregiver for the occasional evening out, which provided stability in the babysitter department. DD is almost 10 now, but still spends the occasional evening or school holiday with this caregiver. She and her husband are like an extra set of grandparents.

Amy, I'd give it more than a week before deciding that this daycare option is a poor fit for your daughter. I agree with the poster who noted that, ideally, a parent should let the child spend a short period of time in a new setting in the days leading up to the "big day" of staying all day. Kind of like wading into the pool a little bit at a time. I think that ultimately that's easier for the parent and the child. If you decide to change caregivers, I'd recommend that approach with your new situation, whether center- or home-based, if you can swing it with your new employer.

Best of luck!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | April 15, 2008 5:59 PM

Wow, quite a discussion. Amy - I am glad you can laugh at the "not so postive" comments. It is hard, sometimes harder for the parents. My son cried for three weeks when he started kindergarten, and I went through several crying fits questioning myself and thinking I should quit (I can't afford to by a long shot). I then came to my senses in that 1) he has to go to kindergarten and 2) he cried like this at each new daycare/preschool/camp situtation and ended up loving the place and making great friends. Lovely and heartfelt post.

Nicole
notjustaworkingmom.blogspot.com

Posted by: Nicole/wksocmom | April 15, 2008 6:10 PM

Leslie, I had to leave to chair a meeting, not because I was offended. I do enjoy these chats, and appreciate the efforts of so many to be welcoming and accepting. I learn a great deal from these chats, especially to preview, so that my grammar matches my own expectations! Disappointing yourself is always the worst - we are the hardest on ourselves.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 6:52 PM

"so you're assuming that poor grooming is the same as being a mommy? "

errr. Of course not. Let me draw you a road map.

Comment 1: "IMO, it is not balanced as a mother or wife to be so focued on a toddler that there is no time to shower. What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?"

Comment 2: "What is the tipping point for being so focused on having a career that everything else suffers?"

Comment 3: "The opposite of poor grooming is not workaholism or selfishness, it's self-esteem and confidence."

Comment 4 - yours - has no basis on logic. Poor grooming is this woman's choice and reflects her lack of balance. The majority of moms choose differently, whether or not they are employed outside the home. The fact that your preference is to lob a MommyWars-grenade whenever you see an opportunity - yup -- that demonstrates not only your biases but your immaturity.

Posted by: what twaddle | April 15, 2008 7:10 PM

Noooooo! Don't delete me, nooooooo

Posted by: babsy1 | April 15, 2008 8:35 PM

this was a good post.

As many have said, give it time.

When I was little I stayed home with my Mom until I went to kindergarten. I never went to pre-school. The church nursery or Sunday school was the only place I'd ever been without my mother.

My first day at kindergarten was tough. After snack I stood by the window and waited for her to come and get me. I cried. The teacher thought I was not very mature.
It didn't help that I'd been enrolled under my given name but had been called by my nickname my whole life. So I didn't even know they were saying my name!

In short, I lived. Within a week I liked it, and many years later I think those scars are gone.

There are many things in life that parents have to provide children. Although it's wonderful if parents can arrange their schedules so they don't have to leave their children in daycare, it doesn't always work out that way. Your child will be just fine, so don't beat yourself up.

Posted by: RoseG | April 15, 2008 9:09 PM

Let me get your opinion on another aspect of the "Coach bags and make-up" comment. It was ill-advised given that so many households require a 2-parent income. And many kids do just fine. But many kids need more focus on quantity time with their families and less on "quality". My mom worked on and off and my dad was frequently deployed (I was an army brat). Some of my clearest and best memories are of simple things that were not planned and just happened. My concern with "quality" time is that some parents with hectic lives seem to feel obligated to make their children happy during whatever time they are able to spend with them. And if your primary goal is to make your child happy short-term, you are probably setting the stage for a brat. But here's the crux of the matter: what is your opinion of parents who choose lifestyles that require both to work? For example, having expensive houses, cars, TVs, vacations, eating out, etc. As a disclaimer, I'm a working mother and would be miserable as a stay-at-home mom. I work for personal satisfaction. But I also married a man who was willing to stay at home with our then-future children if I wanted to continue to work (I wasn't sure I would). And I did, but from day one we were in agreement that one of us would stay home if at all possible. And because of that we always tried to live on one salary and bank the other. Please understand: this question is for those who have choices, not those who have to work for basic necessities to make ends meet.

Posted by: ljb | April 15, 2008 9:36 PM

You really are daft. Here is the post you put together:

""What is the tipping point for being so focused on being a mommy that everything else suffers?"

What is the tipping point for being so focused on having a career that everything else suffers?

If you think your question poses the opposite of the first question, you are only revealing your biases. The opposite of poor grooming is not workaholism or selfishness, it's self-esteem and confidence."

The first question is about being too focused on being a mommy. The second question correctly suggests that you can be too focused on anything, not just mommyhood, and have negative results. Poor grooming is the *result* of being too focused on being a mommy, and it can also be the *result* of being too focused on your work or pretty much anything else.

Your responsee that being a workaholic is not the opposite of poor grooming is illogical and substituted poor grooming for being a mommy in the first question. I have no idea what your deal is, but your rudeness was ill founded and illogical.

Posted by: twaddle waddle | April 15, 2008 11:31 PM

"...for your veterans in the hospital. You know, the ones you profess to honor..."

babsy1


Trust me babys1, I know of at least three people who regularly contribute to this blog who do indeed honor veterans. I know that there are more than us 3 and more than a few who regularly lurk but sometimes comment.

That would be KLB, Army Brat and of course, me.

Posted by: Fred | April 15, 2008 11:34 PM

Thanks Fred, from me, and from other vets - I'm one as well. Sorry to have vented that much spleen...

Posted by: babsy1 | April 16, 2008 8:31 AM

Sorry...I had to add my two cents. I always read this blog, but never comment (at least, never have until today).

Amy, seriously, you need to get a grip. You're a mother now... you need to grow a thick skin. I'm a single, working mother of one and in no way can relate to your post. I stayed home for the first 17 months of my son's life- and always managed to take a shower, put on makeup, and style my hair each day. When I went back to work, despite the tears and fears my son expressed about daycare on and off for the next 4 years, I never lost fact of the sight that daycare was helping my son learn how to socialize, grow independent, and learn way of coping with various social situations. I can't think of many more life lessons that are more important for a child to learn...

I don't know; perhaps it was b/c of how I was raised- on a 10 acre farm where I was allowed to roam all over unsupervised, and then in a city where I was allowed to ride my bike 5 miles across town, walk 3 miles after school to drama class, etc., but I think we parents today are WAY too over protective of our children and don't give them enough credit. That in turn leads parents (mainly mothers) to give up their identities in order to devote their lives to "protecting" their children... You probably would have problems with the fact I let my now 5 year old son walk out from our apartment building, across a busy parking lot, and to the bus stop by himself; you probably think I should walk him out there myself. But what does that teach him? That Mommy will always be there to watch out for him and take care of him? My vow to myself from day I found out I was pregnant was 1) to never give up my identity for my child (including daily showers, make-up, etc) b/c it will only make me unhappy, and furthermore, teach my child that it's okay not to take care of oneself, and 2) that my child would be independent and I would not submit to my natural fears as a mother. I can relate to being scared and worried about my child's wellbeing when I dropped him off a daycare, but not to the point that it debilitated me and made me think irrationally. And that's how your entire post came arcoss to me: self-rightous, borderline hysterical, and wholly irrational. As I said before: you better grow some thick skin if you're going make it through all the trials and tribulations of raising a child... a few tears is nothing compared to what you will deal with later.

Posted by: Mommyof1 | April 16, 2008 3:17 PM

It would be easier to empathize with the author if she didn't start out by insulting folks who don't share her exact priorities. Choosing not to be a stay at home mom is not synonymous with trivial and vain values. And skipping showers and putting your own needs last is not a mark of goodness and perfect motherhood, it's a marker for needing to get some perspective.

Posted by: Lori B | April 16, 2008 3:42 PM

"My concern with "quality" time is that some parents with hectic lives seem to feel obligated to make their children happy during whatever time they are able to spend with them. And if your primary goal is to make your child happy short-term, you are probably setting the stage for a brat. But here's the crux of the matter: what is your opinion of parents who choose lifestyles that require both to work? For example, having expensive houses, cars, TVs, vacations, eating out, etc. As a disclaimer, I'm a working mother and would be miserable as a stay-at-home mom. I work for personal satisfaction. But I also married a man who was willing to stay at home with our then-future children if I wanted to continue to work (I wasn't sure I would)."

I think it's entirely possible to have one's child in care and not be focused on "happy hour only."

When I went back to work FT (which doesn't actually increase our disposable income a whole lot after expenses, but makes a big difference in pension earnings, long-term earning potential, etc.) I had these kinds of prejudices too.

What I found was that - surprise - there is still lots of time together. As much as before? Of course not.

But we're not "harried" all the time and doling out candy so we don't have to deal with real parenting. My husband works 10-6 and I work 8-4 and our son is in daycare from about 9:15 to about 4:45.

Since my son is up from 6:30 - 7:30 that means he gets 2.5 hrs at home in the morning and 2.5 hrs at home in the evening, so that's 5 hours a day for us to make memories.

Also, when I was home I was not miserable, but I was not exactly all that happy.

The result was on SOME days that my son spent time at the mall or lying around watching "bad" tv.

We also spent really quite a bit of time going to playgroups and library visits and drop-in centres - in other words creating a group environment, often more for me than for him. With driving time which was not exactly all that super duper family special. Then there was nap, diaper changes, etc. Of course those were potential bonding times. Of course it was nice. But let's not fool ourselves that they were critically cool.

And on pretty much ALL days I have to say that getting through the time from 5-7:30, minus perhaps dinner, was hard on me and not great for our relationship. I was thinking on and off that whole time about getting "my break" at the end of the day.

Now when I pick my son up I am generally ready to be present to him rather than count the hours to bedtime. So that was time we got back. And no, it's not about spoiling him.

Over a week I figure my son loses out on about 10 hours of time with me (2 hrs a day) that I consider a "true loss." (Obviously, I don't know what those hours are from day to day).

And it IS a loss, no question about it. But was that 10 hours worth the opportunity costs in my career? For him to have a mum who was kind of unhappy? Not for me.

I also wonder if people who take this view have ever seriously started to ask people what their childcare arrangements were and try to tell the difference. Because I taught in an elementary school and after grade 1, you could not tell the daycare kids from the sahp kids.

It's really nice to think that your career choice is THE defining moment in your kid's life but I think families are more complex than that. And balance looks different for each one.

And btw, I don't have a luxury lifestyle. And I married a great dad, who happens to like his job too. But neither of us make a ton of money for luxury vacations.

Posted by: Shandra | April 16, 2008 5:51 PM

this is the very first time that i read my friend's blog that has been posted here on this site. and it pains me to see my friend (amy, the author) being attacked, when all she was seeking was a little help from "the village" as some of you put it. some of you were just ignorant and heartless and said things like "it's a part of life, deal with it, get over it." jeez!!! i'm sure glad i don't live in YOUR VILLAGE or have some of you as friends! and can't you see that she IS dealing with it? this is HER way of dealing... venting, blogging, getting it all out, looking for "HELPFUL" advice. and KUDOS to YOU girl for sticking yourself out there with this public blog... much more can be said about you and your very honest blog than those who simply hide behind anonomous, judgemental, biased comments.

amy, i deeply care about your well-being and that of your family, and i have no doubt that you will find your own personal niche in time. keep up your confidence and your instincts, they will both lead you and your sweet family in the right direction.

i must say, there were so many great comments and even differences of opinions that held many valid points, and were easy to relate to each side. the comments that become irritating however, and tend to sway from the topic are the ones that get nasty, rude or even competitive with perfect strangers regarding who is better or right, and who sucks at life. my gosh to those nasty ladies and nay-sayers, to each their own! (and also, get a freaking life... get off the computer and start following some of the components of your advice strewn all about thru the entire day!)

it was particularly funny to read the comments from a certain lady who (in my own personal opinion) toward the end, started to come across as very self-righteous (i am so much bigger, better and wiser than all of you). particularly when she talked about "IMPORTANT ISSUES" such as "How to raise them (the children) to know that working means showing up on time and doing a solid day's work?"... the funny part of that comment was the fact that she was commenting the entire day from 10:17am till later that night, with only a short break from commenting for a meeting at work. yep, solid day's work all right. way to teach the children, by good solid example.

but whatever, who am i to judge? i make mistakes and bad judgements just like the rest of the world. then i pick myself up and learn from them. at this point, i've never been happier with myself and who i've become. my confidence as a mommy of a 4 year old daughter, and my loving relationship with my future husband, can only thrive from the love of who i've become and the confidence that i have in my childrearing decisions, big and small.

so amy, you know several ways to reach me if you ever want to know how WE got thru the initial anxiety and stress of life changes revolving around starting full time work and daycare when my daughter was just 9 months old. i'll be happy to offer support and advice when you need it. lord knows that won't be the first or last time us mommies and friends seek support from each other.

to some of you commenters, GREAT ADVICE AND SUPPORT! to all you others that had nothing good to offer this comment section, i thought of posting my email or blog site at the end of this, but why would i do that? i don't care what you think. the kind people that i care to hear from and associate with, already know how to reach me.

this will be my first and LAST comment here. i have better things to do. well, now that my lunch break is over, time to get back to my solid day's work...

(ps--i loved english class and was very good in grammar... but i'm not so uptight to have to be PROPER all the time... so deal with my lower case typing and any possible errors in spelling / grammar / punctuation in this comment.)

Posted by: kristie in amy's hometown | April 17, 2008 1:51 PM

I don't see how any one can claim across the board that stay at home moms are automatically great parents who will raise great kids, while work outside the home moms are bad parents who will raise maladjusted kids. I think it absolutely depends on the individual mom (and kid's) personality and the family dynamics.

A coworker of mine has a downstairs (she lives in a two family house) neighbor who is a "stay at home mom", but who lives in a filthy house, and spends her days in the house drinking (and having all kinds of men over day and night) while her two kids run amok outside unsupervised, causing trouble.

In the meantime, another mom at our company, the head of the IS department, works full-time and has a baby in daycare and an older daughter in school/after-school care, but she arranges her work schedule to have every Friday off with her kids during the summer, and does all kinds of educational things with them - they go to the Y, the library, museums, etc. She also she pumps her breast milk at work and takes it to the daycare for her baby, so the baby doesn't have to take formula.

But based on the logic of "stay at home mom = good and work outside the home mom = bad" the first mom I mentioned would be considered a good mom, while the second one would be considered a lousy one. Does that make any sense???

Posted by: Laura | April 21, 2008 10:25 PM

My God, Laura, give it a rest... Do you have nothing better to do than sit around and twist things that this poor girl says completely out of proportion? In fact, that's what I have noticed in several of the above comments. This, I assure you, was by no means a war of who is better or worse. This was simply a plea for a little support by a fellow mommy. Quit taking things so out of context.

Posted by: A Bad Working Mom | April 22, 2008 11:56 PM

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