For a few months now, something’s been on my mind.
Here I was. A full-time working mama, turned part-time working mama, turned laid off and freelancing.
I’m now working with clients on marketing and social media while pouring over Momcomm to turn it into something even bigger.
Needless to say, I’m exhausted. But? I haven’t felt this energized about my work in years.
The great childcare shuffle
Since I got laid off, I’ve been dealing with childcare arrangements a week at a time. Big Roo was staying at his daycare two full days a week and Little Roo was going to his old caregiver’s house when I needed the extra help. But money is tight so I kept him home as much as possible and worked during naps and after the kids went to bed.
What’s been on my mind? Them going to the same school. A preschool which runs in the morning hours. I know many moms are used to the preschool scene, whether they work or stay at home. For me, I needed a solution that not many places offered: daily morning care for a four year old AND a toddler.
Let me tell you how insanely frustrating that is to find. Four year old? Easy peasy. Toddler? Two days a week is the norm. As a working mom, that doesn’t fly. How can I work during the day when I have a total of about six hours to myself? I hate to say it, but I felt shunned. I became the mama who doesn’t fit anywhere.
Getting shunned… but not for long
Daycares don’t offer part-time care for toddlers around here and preschools only offer two days/week. As I searched for a place to care for them, it became apparent that you’re either supposed to work full-time or you’re supposed to stay at home. It made me feel guilty that I was going to leave my toddler for four or five mornings a week. If no one offers that option, it must mean few people do it.
I equated few people doing it with “no one does it because it’s just not right.” Silent judgment… not by someone’s actions but rather by the lack of offering something suitable for moms like me. Moms somewhere in the middle. After wallowing around in that for a few weeks, I shouted (in my head, but it was still loud): screw that!
I’m working hard as hell to help support this family of mine. I’m working until midnight every night writing blog posts, preparing consulting proposals and doing freelance work.
You may say blogging should fall to the wayside in a time like this but let me tell you: blogging is bringing me some of the best opportunities I’ve gotten. It’s the new resume.
I do all this because I want to work and stay at home. Yes, I want them both.
Luckily for me, I hit the jackpot. I found a preschool that offers EXACTLY what I’m looking for… a mile from my house! The teachers are friendly, they put a focus on learning yet know how to have fun and they didn’t cost a fortune. Triple score!
So a few months ago I eagerly wrote a check for my deposit, then notified Big Roo’s daycare that he’ll be leaving at the end of May (don’t get me wrong—that was TOUGH for me since he’d been there since he was 20 months old).
And then I waited for June to come. And by waiting I mean that part where I work tirelessly when the kids sleep and take care of them when they’re awake. I only survived on caffeine and snuggles.
The first day of preschool
On Monday, they saddled up for Big Roo’s first day at a new school and Little Roo’s first day at any sorta school.
When we got there Big Roo muttered, “I don’t want to go to my new school. I wanna go back to my old school.” This is even after asking me EVERY DAY for the past two weeks when he could go to his new school.
I started feeling guilty… but then he got excited again and gave me that super ecstatic grin of this. *wipes sweat from my brow*
Little Roo didn’t have a clue what was going on. But he was chill.
When we got inside, I walked Big Roo to his room first at his request. His teacher is our neighbor so that was a big bonus. He walked in with Burt under his arm. Then in about three seconds flat he loosened his grip on my hand and sat down on the ABC carpet to make friends.
I had to call him back over to give me a hug. He gave me his infamous crazy hug where he feverishly jumps up and down while hugging my waist. Dang, that kid was excited.
Little Roo’s excitement built too. In fact, I struggled to keep him in my arms in Big Roo’s room. Too much to explore and he wanted to go on an expedition!
I said goodbye and walked down to Little Roo’s room. Um yeah, now I was getting a lump in my throat. Are all those other places right? Is four days too much for this little guy? This was all new beans for my little man. Other than the church nursery, he’d never stepped foot in a classroom before.
Would he cry? Would he cling to me? Would they have to call me later to come get him?
He squirmed out of my arms before I could even get the gate to the doorway open. He toddled over to play with some chunky wooden puzzles and didn’t give me a second glance.
For the second time that day, I had to initiate the goodbye.
Reassurance… and empowerment
Nothing reassures a mama more than seeing her kids happy when you leave them. I know it won’t be like this every day but I needed that moment.
I needed to know they will do just fine.
I needed to know that I CAN be a working mama that has the afternoon with her kids.
I needed to know that I am not selfish for working. For one, it’s either this or go back full-time (we’re not rolling in money, people). For another, I want what both the working and the motherhood worlds have to offer.
For right now, I get them both in full force. We’re only two days in but I can feel the goodness coming from it for all of us.
And I’m incredibly grateful.