How Do Women Put Their Babies In Daycare? Or Why I Chose To Be A Work-At-Home Mom
First off, I am not judging women who put their babies in daycare. For some, it’s a matter of physical survival–they absolutely have to work to support their families. For others it’s a matter emotional and intellectual survival–they need to wear non-stretchy clothes–clothes with buttons and snaps, and be in the presence of adults for at least part of their days. I get that.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with my almost 3-month-old daughter, I began gnawing on the issue of my return to work after her birth. I was extremely conflicted. I have always needed to make my own money–I am unbearably uncomfortable with the idea of depending on someone financially (again, this isn’t a judgement–if you’re comfortable with it, rock on with your bad self), yet I am equally uncomfortable with the idea of leaving my infant child in the care of…well…anyone but me for 10+ hours each day. I would worry about her constantly, no matter how well I vetted her caregiver. I would also feel like I was missing moments I didn’t want to miss. Why should someone else get to watch my daughter discover the world?
But what about the money thing? See? I’ve been conflicted. I was supposed to return to work today. Last week, the HR guy from my office emailed me to confirm I was coming back. I meant to email him back, but I pretty much always have my hands full of baby these days, and when I don’t, I’m usually so tired, I pass out. I also probably delayed my response because I wanted to want to come back, but I just didn’t. I didn’t want to come back at all. My urge to be with my baby was so strong, I simply couldn’t go back. So today I did something I never thought I would do: I wrote to my boss and told him I couldn’t come back. I let him know I was open to working part time from home, but that I couldn’t come back to the office.
Those of you who know me well are probably shocked for many reasons. First, there’s the whole not depending on anyone thing. Second, I have a hard time letting people down. Such a hard time that I almost never do it–even if it means I overextend myself (and it often does). What’s strange about today is with one exception–a friend who has tirelessly advocated for me within the company–I don’t feel like I let anyone down. I’m a successful and talented content and social media marketing professional, and no one at my place of employment (except my friend and advocate, and the SEO manager) believes in content or social media marketing.
The executive board wants the social media box checked off–and that’s why I was hired–but there is no money in the budget for social media marketing. If I can’t point directly to enough orders to make a social media spend profitable (and I can’t–that’s not how social media marketing works), I don’t get any money to spend on social media. After months of spinning my wheels I asked to broaden my scope to include content marketing. My request was granted, but the company feels only slightly more positive about content marketing. My friend recently told me that leadership is now coming around to content, and if I come in and fight for the territory, I might get it. She suggested that I might report to one of my peers–another manager–all the while fighting to have my profession (and myself) acknowledged as important to the organization. Another slap in the face in a long line of slaps in the face. Enough. If I felt there was something to return to, I might have labored more over my decision, but I didn’t feel that way, and with good reason.
So what now? I plan to freelance from home and spend this special time with my daughter. She will only be a baby once, and I want to witness as much of it as possible. And I can. So it seems I’ve found a way to straddle my urge to be with my daughter and my need to make my own money–I’ll be a work at home mom. I am sure this comes with its own set of challenges, and to create a situation that meets my seemingly-at-odds needs, I’m willing–even grateful–to face those challenges.