A lot of major changes have happened over the past month or so. I’m pretty sure I’ve made the right decisions. I hope I have made the right decisions. Have I made the right decisions?
After I had my baby, I tried to make some changes at work that would allow me to get out of the office before 6:30 pm so that I could pick my daughter up at daycare before it closed.
I was so glad to have the daycare that I did, because it was opened 12 hours, and that meant I could almost work ‘my usual schedule’. It was a good schedule for me. My daughter wasn’t always there 12 hours per day; her average day was about 10 Â½ hours. Many days she was the last little kid left, and despite that long, long day for her, she’d still greet me with a vivacious: “MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!” and a big hug.
My sweet little girl is now 3 Â½ years old. For the past 5 months or so, the most frequent comment that has come out of my mouth with regards to my daughter has been: “Everyone talks about the terrible-two’s, but nobody ever told me about the horrible-frustrating-exasperating-wish I could go back to my former life before I had her- threes! “
That was not really a nice thing to say. But I meant it. I missed my former life.
I would wake up at 4:50 am and get myself ready. Then Iâd awaken her at 5:40 am with the intention of getting her dressed quickly, get into the car and drop her off at 6:30 am, so that I could get to my 6:45 am meetings. Needless to say, and without surprise, she gave me a hard, hard time. It was a battle, and by the time I got to work (later than I had intended), I was stressed-out, makeup-smeared, runs in my pantyhose from her kicking and struggling. I blamed her. So, I started waking her up at 5:25 am to allow for extra battle-struggle time to avoid being late for work. My work partners would wake up early, too, but theyâd get to go to the gym, or go for a swim, or for a run before theyâd get to the office. They are very physically fit. Iâm not. I used to be. But no longer. I was becoming a little jealous. They didn’t have to do what I did every morning.
My family, friends and co-workers suggested that I ask my husband to help. âThat would mean he would have to get up an hour earlier than he needs toâ I replied. Their answers were unanimously, âso what?â So, my husband did take over the childcare drop-off and pick-up for 1-2 days per week. It did help.
It wasnât until about 2 months ago that I realized it wasnât really my daughter who was the horrible one. It was me. Just because a 10 Â½ – 12 hour day at daycare was good for me, and my work-life, didnât mean it was good for her! On the contrary: it was NOT good for her. It was NOT fair to her. How could I blame her for being horrible? What did I expect? When this realization occurred, I withered. I sunk. This just wasnât right. I probably had known for longer than 5 months that something wasnât right about our situation, but I had figured, âhey, thatâs what us working-parents face. Itâs par for the course.â I had never thought about any other options, really, because the truth is: I never had TIME TO THINK about other options. My daughter wasn’t the horrible one. She’s a little girl with a work-a-holic mom.
Finally, in one of my dazed/confused/exhausted states, I decided to make a change. And I did make a change:
We have hired a babysitter to come to our house at about 7:15 in the morning to get my daughter ready for the day. No more waking her up before the crack of dawn. Now, she wakes up on her own. The babysitter gets her dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed at my daughterâs pace. No rush. No: âCOME ON WE HAVE TO GO—- I CANâT BE LATE FOR WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!â
I will have already left for work. Weâve switched daycare centers to one closer to my home, so it will be much less car-travel time for my daughter. The babysitter drops her off there at 8:30 am. My husband now is responsible for picking her up: and the rule is âNo Later than 5:30 pmâ. This daycare closes at 6 pm. I will hope to get there to pick her up once, maybe twice per week.
Despite my valiant efforts to cut back at work, even just a little bit, it has been impossible. The life of a physician is life-giving, and many times self-less. I know this and Iâve lived this and Iâve always accepted this as a privilege to be a physician and care for women. But at the same time, I have been unable to put my foot down and say, âNoâ when my work life takes over my own life. I don’t say, “No.”
I cried and cried when it was time to leave her former childcare center. The teachers there had become part of our âfamilyâ, too. I knew all of my daughterâs little friends. They knew me. I loved that place. More importantly, my daughter was very happy there. What was I thinking to make this change?
We are now day number 4 at her new daycare center. I donât know the teachers. I donât know the kids. When I ask my daughter at the end of the day what their names are, she is silent. She seems a little sad. Yesterday she cried. I asked the teacher why? She said she âhas to get used to things, and she will.â
The babysitter told me today that my daughter seemed happier this am when she dropped her off. My husband told me she was very cheerful when he picked her up. Believe it or not, I really, really miss her in the morning on the way to work. Itâs quiet in my car. I still sing, âthe wheels on the bus go round and roundâ and then remember that sheâs not in the back seat. Iâm alone. I miss her.
Did I do the right thing?