This summer we elected to keep Ari in daycare despite the fact that I was home on maternity leave for nearly 11 weeks after Evie was born, and then another couple weeks between the culmination of my Frontiers course and my next rotation. It’s a decision about which I felt some anxiety and guilt–sending one kid off to be looked after by other people when I, myself, was available; spending thousands of dollars on childcare that most mothers aren’t able to afford. I acknowledge that it’s a luxury, let’s just start with that. But here are a few of our reasons:
- We don’t have family in the area, and John was back at work less than 48 hours after Evie was born. Especially in the early couple of weeks when my body was still repairing, I appreciated help with a toddler so I could focus on feeding and keeping alive our new little barracuda.
- After the initial period of repair, I still wasn’t sleeping consistently at night. A nap during the day when Evie was sleeping felt necessary for maintaining my sanity, or at least my happiness.
- Probably the most important: Ari loves being around other kids her age, and she loves her daycare, or “school” as she calls it. I honestly believe we would have been doing her a disservice, taking her out of a stimulating environment only to have her be bored watching me nurse Evie every 90 minutes, not to mention the harsh transition of leaving for a few months and then returning again when I resumed rotations.
- Tied for most important: I know Evie isn’t going to remember, but I think it’s good for her to also get some one-on-one attention. I loved some of our tender, uninterrupted moments, just her and me. And, if the weekends when John is working are any indication, Evie tends to feed and sleep much better if she isn’t anxiously anticipating Ari’s next onslaught of kisses or tickles or large packet of wipes…all meant in the name of love and attempts at being a helper, but distracting nonetheless.
- With waiting lists as they are, I’m not confident we could have gotten her (or her sister) back in daycare when I went back to school.
- Finally, I had responsibilities outside of family–residency applications, papers, certifications required for graduation from medical school–that required attention, and I certainly appreciated being able to spend several good, productive hours working on them during the day rather than relegating them to post-bedtime activities.
I’m not trying to defend our decision…well, maybe I am. Bottom line: we had the option to have extra help, and we took it. It felt like the right decision for our family, and I’m still working (a little) on not feeling lazy or like less of a mother for it.
I start back on my next rotation on Tuesday. I really wanted to set aside some time with just Ari, which, between John’s crazy schedule and me putting last minute finishing touches of my residency application (available for submission September 15th!), proved challenging. We found a window on Thursday this past week (I wish we had found more!) when John had the afternoon off and was available to take Evie, and I called the daycare to tell them we were playing hooky, taking a mental health day.
In the morning, with both nuggets, we took our time. I think Ari must be going through a growth spurt, because she housed three eggs and two bowls of cereal! Nothing felt rushed, and I sat back and watched Ari spend 20 minutes deciding whether or not she wanted to wear a shirt that day. We went in to Crossfit for a WOD and then enjoyed a post-WOD sprinkle for a friend and fellow athlete expecting her fourth (!!). In the spirit of Ari-day, we missed the group shot because I didn’t have the heart to tear her off the erg, but we couldn’t help documenting Evie and her matching “cousin”:
Solo Ari-day officially began after lunch, books, and nap. I fed Evie one last time, passed her off to Daddy, and Ari and I were off! We took a second trip to the zoo. Although the company of the last trip couldn’t be beat, I’d have to say this trip was more enjoyable, sans 94-degree heat or a febrile, diarrheal illness. And it felt good being able to let her call the shots…like spending a disproportionate amount of time just staring at the goats, because goats really do go “BAAAHHHHH!” And so can my daughter. (They go “baaah” a lot when there are several male goats fighting over a female goat in heat.)
On the way home, we stopped for froyo. I was such a proud mama watching my baby use her spoon so well, not spilling a drop until the finale when she secured her lips around the side of cup and tried to pour the remainder down her throat (and then dark chocolatey brown yogurt got absolutely everywhere–in her shoes, in fact).
Before heading in, Evie joined us visiting our neighbors and Ari’s most favorite canine named Dex, a bowlegged bulldog with quite possibly the largest head and tongue you’ll ever see. Walking back up to the porch, John snapped the photo at the very top–I love it. I seriously stare at it while nursing Evie in the middle of the night. Our girls! We just look so calmly content, rested, and well fed–a great moment at the end of a summer I’ll never be able to repeat.