What Kind of Mom Am I? by Jamie Levine
When I first lost my job, my immediate reaction was to keep my daughter in her daycare – but for shorter hours – because I didn’t want to “disrupt” her life. She loves it there and well, I love having the time to get my work done without worrying about her. But now, over six months later, it sometimes feels strange. Mind you, Jayda and I have plenty of “extra” time together now that I’m no longer commuting. She’s up at 5 a.m. (and so am I, by default) and I don’t drop her off at daycare until 8. That’s a lot of quality morning time! And when I pick her up at 4 p.m., we still have hours together to do things, eat dinner at the same time, and enjoy a lot of unrushed book-reading and cuddling before bed. I give Jayda plenty of attention, and we’re closer than ever. But I sometimes feel guilty for not keeping her at home with me all the time. I mean, it’s not like I have an office to go to every day.
The truth is, I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom! I love my daughter…truly adore her. But being with her 24/7 drives me nuts! Especially when we’re just staying home or running errands. She’s a wonderful kid…but she is a toddler. A very intelligent, inquisitive, attention-needing, at-times-tantrum-throwing toddler. That’s why I keep us so active when she IS home with me (on weekends, holidays, etc.). I fill up our calendar as far in advance as I can, and run myself ragged going places and doing things with Jayda when we’re together. Because being at home alone with my daughter – and staying idle – makes me crazy.
Of course, financially, I’m not always sure Jayda’s time in daycare makes sense for us. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I should shorten her hours a bit more. But if I bring her in later in the morning, I lose my much-needed before-work gym time. And that’s what keeps me sane. And if I pick her up earlier, it cuts into her outdoor playtime with her friends. Also very important.
Am I being a spendthrift? Or worse – selfish? And what kind of mother can I label myself as now, anyway? I no longer truly identify with my full-time working-long-hours mommy friends…but I’m also not a stay-at-home mom, filling my days with play dates and Mommy & Me classes.