It Never Gets Easy
Springbok mom, Mandy Rausch, gives us her own views and opinions on the fine art of leaving your new baby while mom goes to work. She wants you to know that the opinions are her own and she is not being compensated for this work. (Mimi adds that she is never compensated and that Mandy’s opinions are pretty darn spot on!)
“When does it get easy?”
When the inevitable day comes that a parent is preparing to go back to work for the first time since his or her baby’s arrival, and the choice is made to put that sweet baby in the care of someone else, that is almost always the first question I see. Whether that someone else is a family member, a close friend, an in-home care provider, or a center like Springbok, it is a gut-wrenching and slightly crippling thought to hand over your child to someone else for the bulk of a day (or week, or month).
Those of us who have done it already, no matter how long ago we did it, always offer hugs (both in person and virtual, as the case may be) of support and well-meaning platitudes. I was offered the same: “Hang in there!” “It’s so worth it when you pick them up at the end of the work day!”
While those comments are almost always offered with genuine love and support, and they are true, I’ve started changing my answer to “When does it get easy?” with a very honest, straightforward, “It doesn’t. It gets easier, but it is never easy.”
Every time I sat down to write this post, I put it off for one reason or another: a) I had a bad day at work, b) It was a really difficult, tear-filled morning drop-off and it affected me until noon, c) I never stopped missing him the whole day, or d) all of the above. But then it hit me that those are the very reasons I should write this!
In the past 13.5 months of my son’s life, I’ve learned to accept two truths: “It’s not easy,” and “It’s okay.”
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s okay to doubt your every decision (and the choice of childcare, or the choice to stay home or go back to work are huge decisions). It’s okay if some days you wish you’d made a different decision.
It’s okay if you cry all day at work (long after your baby stopped crying when you handed him over to his caregiver).
It’s okay if you breathe a sigh of relief after drop-off because you desperately need to spend time with adults and remember that you are really, really good at your job. It’s also okay if you feel guilty sometime around 3:00pm that you haven’t thought about your baby once.
It’s okay if you text or email your child’s caregiver three times in one day to ask how he’s doing, and it’s okay if you cry to his teachers when you ask that they not tell you if he takes his first steps there (yeah, that one was me; I’ll admit it) (okay, they were ALL me).
Nothing about being a parent has been easy. Things that seemed easy at first got much more difficult, and things I thought I’d never be able to deal with got a little easier. Being a working parent with a child (or several children) in the care of others is never going to be easy. Parts of it are always going to be hard and, you guessed it, “It’s OKAY!”
It’s okay that it’s hard, and it’s even okay if you’re thinking “It doesn’t feel hard to me!” I do feel incredibly lucky, personally, to have a place like Springbok that is located a stone’s throw from my home and my place of employment, and that is staffed by people who understand and support parents, who love my son and seem truly delighted to see him every day, who have advice when I ask for it regarding teething or signing new words, who spend time helping him hit milestones but let me see them for the first time on my own. My baby loves it there, but he still lights up when I show up at the door to pick him up! Some days are harder than others, sure. And that’s okay.
It doesn’t make it easy for me. But it makes it a whole lot easier.