Friday, December 21, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

For the past couple weeks, I have been considering putting Sam into part time daycare once she turned one. Today I visited one and as far as I can tell, it is exactly the kind of place I would have designed myself. It was warm, welcoming, cozy and lovely--much like a French boudoir circa 1942. Or like a hash bar I used to frequent in Florence. One or the other.

But lest you think I only want it because the owner and I share a fondness for the ultra girly, let me assure that, in fact, Sam was thrilled to crawl around on the floor with the other children. I am fairly certain that she would have been happy had I just left her there. But I didn't. I still need to call and check references, but I think this is the one. When you know, you know.

This comes not a moment too soon. As my freelance work is picking up and up and I am getting more and more interesting, varied and exciting work, I have come to a bit of a crossroads. Although I have loved staying home with Sam, I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. Please do not get me wrong. I respect SAHMs beyond belief. I just can't do it. I don't have the patience, the stamina or the desire, I guess is what it comes down to.

Sam becomes more demanding everyday. She wants me constantly. She wants to be in my lap, to be read to, to be constantly entertained. There is not a day that goes by that I do not question our television policy and wish I could just pop in a Baby Einstein DVD to get 30 minutes of peace. The kid wants what she wants. And lately, my days have been a cycle of annoyance, frustration, guilt. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The honest truth? The highlight of my day comes when she naps and I can do my interviews or get into my writing or talk to my editors. I love the work I do and while it is infinitely flexible, I want to be able to carve out some set time in which to do it. My career goals are important to me. I want to work on my fiction, particularly on the novel I have ben crafting for years. I want to be published regularly in national publications. And I want to have steady relationships with a variety of editors. None of those things can be accomplished when I have one foot in the door of the SAHM mom life, so I am making this difficult decision.

Do I feel guilty? Kind of. Maybe not as guilty as I should feel. I am proud of myself for getting this far, but the reality is that I was raised in a home where the women work--and very hard. My mother was a therapist who had a host of other activities beyond children in her life and my stepmom is a lawyer who whose work ethic is astounding and highly admirable. This is not to say that being a stay at home mom is not work. It is. The hardest kind. But ultimately it is not for me. I realize this is a far cry from what I felt 10 months ago. But the evolution has been gradual, the slow awareness that I really do need something outside my children to be a happy person.

All of this is funny because until I had Sam, I had zero work ethic. All I wanted to do was be at home, lounging with the hubs or running. Sam has awakened my work ethic and made me realize just how much I need other kinds of stimulation in my life. Without her, I would never have had the guts to quit my full time writing job and go freelance, so I am grateful for all that has happened in the past year.

Still, some things have to change and although it will be bittersweet, I feel good about the timing. She will be more than one when she goes into daycare for the first time. She will have some socialization, learn to trust other people to care for her and I will get some much needed quiet time to write while getting rejuventated for the three days I will still have at home with her.

I could not ask for a better situation. Now I just have to make it happen.

1 comment:

Lis Garrett said...

I don't think you should feel guilty in the least, as it takes incredible courage to admit when a situation is just not working for you. I have been a mom for close to nine years, and very little of that time was actually spent earning a paycheck. Now that two of my kids are in elementary school and I am ushering the youngest off to preschool in January (two days a week), I am REALLY looking forward to working harder and more efficiently on my writing. Trying to work with a 2.5 year old at home is difficult, especially when she doesn't nap. Work is 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there, and yes, I do let her watch shows on Noggin. I would go crazy if I didn't.

I certainly understand and agree with your point of view.

Lis Garrett