There are major upheavals occurring in our household. I am going back to working outside of the home next week. Of course, it’s really not going back. It’s a whole new reality where my professional self and my parent-self are about to come into contact with each other and will be forced to figure out how to share time and space.
It’s terrifically unfair that whenever you take on another role you don’t automatically get a few extra hours added to every day.
This week, we’ve been going to daycare. TAF and I investigated our options for childcare. We interviewed some nannies and toured some daycares and ultimately we felt that daycare was the right choice for this child at this point in our lives.
Setting ourselves up for success took about three weeks. Originally I was having a bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around changing our breastfeeding relationship. I had some silly idea about pumping like mad to create a stash before going back to work. Then I realized that since I don’t have breaks during my days during which I could pump, I had better actually take steps to decrease my milk supply so that I wouldn’t be distracted by engorgement and wet scrubs. I slowly cut out daytime nursing sessions. Currently we are on a mixture of feedings from the boob and feedings from bottles. Bottles may contain formula, breast milk or some combination thereof. There is such a deluge of information about how to increase milk supply and how to ensure you have adequate milk and much less about how to wean that it felt kind of strange or unnatural when I first tried to decrease my supply. But whatever, this step was an essential in order for my family to meet its goals and it was surprisingly easy and free of angst.
We started daycare on Monday. After my son’s morning nap, I took him to his class for the first time. We met his teachers, played with all kinds of toys that are clearly much cooler than the toys we have at home. He watched the other children. Then we had lunch and went home.
The next day, we arrived in the morning. My little guy was so interested in the new toys and the other kids and general hubbub that when I staged a withdrawal to the other side of the room, he didn’t even notice. So I kissed him goodbye and left. I picked him up after lunch but before the afternoon nap.
The third day we ripped the band-aid off. I dropped him off in the morning and picked him up in the afternoon.
His teachers say he’s adjusting really well.
My husband and my mother both erroneously gave me the credit for that. But here’s the thing, I am incredibly proud, not of myself, but of my son. He has proven himself to be adaptable and resiliant…and I am so proud of him. I am amazed and happy to discover that these traits are part of his personality…but did I have anything to do with him developing them? I don’t think so. This is just the way he is. Similarly, I’m not going to take credit later on if we discover he has an innate talent for theoretical mathematics. Nor would I be blaming myself if he was finding the adjustment to daycare more difficult. I would simply acknowledge that he’s a kid who needs more time or a more gradual introduction to his changing circumstances and modify my approach. And maybe, I would be even more proud of him for being able to achieve something that was difficult.
I try to keep this in mind when I read anything about parenting philosophies or approaches. Such reading is now accidental. I’ve come to realize that there is no magic recipe for turning out a great kid anymore than there is an accepted definition of what a “great kid” is. There are lots of theories but very little evidence and I think it comes down to personal preference and chosing what seems to work within the context of your family and the personality of the kid in question. I’m tired of other people’s opinions.
I’m especially tired of the opinions of those who credit themselves for their parenting results. There is an unattractive smugness to their writing and, whether they intend to or not, they often include a side-order of guilt. Well, I refuse to feel guilty. In times like these I lean on Eleanor Roosevelt:
I refuse to feel any more guilt about any of my parenting decisions without objective evidence of harm. In fact, from this day forward I refuse to call them my parenting decisions. As a mother, I am only one half the parenting equation. My husband is an equal partner in this endeavor and shares responsiblity. Together we decided where and how the baby was going to sleep, eat, be diapered and cared for in our absence. Sure, I’ve currently been doing most of the actual hands-on stuff because I’m the one on parental leave, but our approach was definitely a team decision.
So, lots of changes…and maybe a paradigm shift for me in how I think of parenting and my role in it.