My bottle is almost as big as I am!
Cool guy hittin' the pool
Alright- I should admit now that I've really only been back to my office for one half day since Cameron was born. My first full day back is tomorrow! So I'm not claiming to be an expert on/victim of any circumstances quite yet. But I've realized how completely awful and toxic the whole stay-at-home mom (SAHM) vs. working mom (WM) "debate" is (and how annoyed I am that it's "mom" vs. "parent"). I believe that *good* parents are entitled to do whatever they think is best for their children or whatever works for their family. If it makes sense for the parent or both parents to adjust their work schedule to care for their children, that's great. On the other hand, if they are comfortable with or would prefer their children to have an external caregiver (family member/nanny/daycare/etc), that's great too. There are many factors to consider, ranging from personal preference to financial ability to the child's needs.
Growing up, I realize I was exposed to many different family models. As I've mentioned in previous posts, for a large chunk of my childhood, my dad was home with us during the day. Both of my parents worked, but their schedules allowed for them to be home with us most of the time. I also had an uncle who lived with my family until I was about 13 who at times, assisted/entertained us as well. I have friends whose moms stayed home and others who went to latchkey or Kindercare. Generally speaking, none of us have turned out to be druggies, ax murderers or crazies (that I know of), so I feel like as long as the time spent with children is "quality" in nature, you can't really screw anyone up too badly.
Throughout my pregnancy, many different people asked if I would be returning to work after the birth of my child. At the time, my answer was "Of course!" I planned to turn off my blackberry and enjoy my maternity leave. When the time came, I'd head back to work. Some people, with a rather "knowing" grin, would shake their head at me and say "Just wait. It will be so different once your baby arrives." Others would say "Good for you- get out of that house sooner rather than later!" as if I was busting out of jail. It really surprises me how unshakeable people's opinions are on what's "best" for children. I wonder where that comes from - is it personal experience or word of mouth??
Being home with Cameron has been a very fulfilling experience. I've enjoyed his sweet face every morning, played with him as he becomes more aware of his surroundings and relished the little milestones he achieves every week. This experience has been made more precious because I survived the heart attack. At the same time that I'm grateful for this time with him, I am also"ready" to go back to work. Yes, things are so different now that he's here. And while I'm eager to get back into the swing of things at my job, I realize that I'll have to do it a little differently (i.e. not work from home so much in the evening, finding more work-life balance). I feel confident that between both grandmothers watching him a day every week, send him to day care a few days and possibly working from home a half or whole day each week, he'll be just fine. He won't necessarily have the same routine each day, but I won't worry about that until it becomes an issue (if it every does).
I do wish that Brian was able to have this experience - unfortunately his employer does not have any paternal leave and taking FMLA leave did not make sense for us. It makes me sad that fathers/men aren't always afforded the same rights as mothers/women (not to assume that all parents are in a heterosexual relationship). I hope Cameron gets enough of what he needs from both of us as he grows up. And if one day, Brian or I want to stay home with him because we think it's best, then we'll figure it out!
So, to all the parents (or parents-to-be), especially first timers, reading my blog - be proud of the choices you make for your children! Don't let anyone make you feel bad for staying home or bad for working. You know what you are capable of and what is best for your kids/family :)
"The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation or a relationship." - Deborah Tannen
"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise."
- Robert Fritz