When I was younger I always figured I would be a stay at home mom. And yet, I also desired to be a child life specialist at a children’s hospital. In my mind the two would be separate, I would work for a few years and then have a baby and stay home forever, filling my days with cooking, cleaning and running my 12 children to soccer practice. (Yes, I wanted to have a dozen kids when I was younger). But then I grew up and my life was filled with real issues like paying for health insurance, buying a home, and paying back the ever dreaded student loans.
While I was pregnant, and after Leah was born, Brett and I talked a lot about what was best for our family. I love, love, love my job, but I also love my daughter more than anything else in the world and if I had a choice between my dream job and my dream baby, the baby wins hands down every time. But giving up my job all together isn’t possible for our family right now. Not only does working at a hospital give us amazing health insurance (which I hesitate to give up) but hubs and I are in the process of buying a home (hopefully) very soon and we could use all the extra cash we can get right now. So, for the time being, I will be going back to work in January. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful job at a wonderful hospital and when I called my boss back in October and said that, not only was I planning on extending my maternity leave, but I was also going to cut back on my hours, she happily said “Not a problem.”
Then came the important question; where will we put Leah when I go back to work? A private nanny was out of the question and we have no family in the area, so our only option was daycare. As a teenager I worked at a few daycares. Some where amazing and some made me think that I would never put my children in a daycare. So going into this process hubs and I knew we were going to be picky. Last Monday we set off for a visit at, what I thought would be, our first choice daycare. However, during our visit we witnessed something horrific that made me leave in tears and we quickly crossed that daycare off our list. Hubs suggested we look at a Christian daycare center down the street from his office and we made an appointment to meet with the director the next day. We felt so much better about this facility, but they typically have long wait lists. We were blessed, however, and 3 days after our visit we got a call from the director saying they could make a space for Leah starting in January.
That same day we received the call, the horrific shooting at the CT elementary school took place. As I sat there, watching the footage in tears, all I could think of were those parents who had dropped their children off at school with a kiss, a hug and a certainty that their child would be safe and cared for at school. Only something horrible and unfathomable happened and those children were stolen from their parents. And my heart breaks for them.
I’m terrified at the thought of leaving Leah in someone else’s care. The daycare showed us their strong security measures, locked doors with keypads needing codes punched in to enter, but we all know that terrible things can happen where they’re least expected. I feel certain about this daycare. I truly believe that Brett and I were meant to witness what we did at the first daycare in order to realize that Leah is meant to be elsewhere. I love the church daycare and the sweet older women who work in the infant room. When I drop Leah off in the mornings I do so with the knowledge that she is going to be loved and cuddled by those sweet ladies until I pick her up a few hours later. I know she will be loved and cared for there, but I cannot know with 100% certainty that she will be safe. And that’s what kills me because, as a mother, I would never intentionally put her in harms way.
But here’s the thing: come January I will drop my daughter off and trust that she will be kept safe. And although I know for a fact that I will cry all the way to work that first day, I also know that it will get better. I can’t live my life in fear and (unfortunately) I can’t keep Leah safe in a sling attached to my body until she’s 18. Whether it’s daycare next month or preschool in 3 years, eventually I will need to leave her and trust that she will be okay. What happened in CT was sickening and unimaginable and I know the fear will be on my heart and mind for those first few weeks back at work. But I also know that I am not in control of my life, hubs life, or Leah’s life. God is. And you better believe I will be praying for her safety not only in daycare, but every year she is in school and beyond.
So daycare, I’m ready for you. I might cry more than my baby does when I drop her off, but I’m prepared to begin this next stage in our family’s life. That is, until hubs and I make our millions and I can quit my job and hang out with our dozen kids, of course.