This morning, we took a walk up to my neighborhood's daycamp to say hello to one of my childhood friends whose kids were attending the camp. It was like a walk back in time for me. I attended that daycamp as a child and worked it as a counselor as a teenager. It's moments like that that make me so happy to be home. I can almost feel the nostalgia seeping from my pores.
The number of mothers that were able to be there at noon on a Friday struck me. Some are school teachers, so they are off for the summer. Some have flexible jobs where they work from home, or work part time in the afternoons or evenings. And some are traditional stay at home moms. I couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness for myself and for Sabrina. I hope one day that she can attend that same daycamp that I did, but I know that I won't be able to be there for her like so many of those mothers were. Working will always be part of my reality, lottery winnings notwithstanding.
I often find myself internally debating whether or not I would want to be a stay at home mom. I know, that sounds kind of terrible. What kind of mother doesn't want to be with her kids as much as possible? The truth is, I think that if I were a stay at home mom, exclusively, 100% of the time, that I might lose my identity. That I might just see myself as Sabrina's mom, when I know that I am much more than that.
While I was home on maternity leave, I spent every second of my day obsessing about Sabrina. About her eating, her pooping, how much she did or didn't sleep... All while still recovering from my bout with postpartum depression. While this should have been a happy time, 3 months straight spent with my new baby girl, I felt anything but happy most of the time. Many emotions coursed through my veins. Dread of going back to work, fear that once I wasn't around her all the time that Sabrina would somehow not love me or forget I was her mother, worry about juggling working with having a house, a baby, a stepdaughter, and still finding time for my wonderful husband. I just couldn't make it all fit together in my head.
But the truth is, it did all fit together. And it still does. It took a few weeks, but we eventually established a routine. Instead of falling apart, we all thrived in this new routine and continue to do so. Sabrina has blossomed since going to "daycare" at Chris's mom's, her Nana's. She has started napping better (not for us of course), learned to sit up and crawl. She hasn't had many issues with separation anxiety and chatters up a storm. She get socialization with her 2 cousins and is used to being around caretakers other than mommy and daddy. She is a well-rounded, happy baby.
And yet, despite all of this, I still feel guilt and sadness, knowing I will never get to stay home with her on her summers off from school. I'll never take her to the library everyday for story time, or be the mom that works all the holiday parties at school. She will have to go to before and after school care, or maybe be one of the lucky kids whose grandparents pick her up, like I was growing up. And maybe I'll achieve my dream of working part time someday, but I honestly wouldn't bet on it. In this day and age, and with the commitment Chris and I have made to each other to be financially responsible and not spend beyond our limits, the reality is we will always need to be a 2 income family.
My hope is that I can show Sabrina that it is okay to be a working, professional woman while still raising a family and having a happy marriage. I hope that she knows that I never chose working over her, that I made the absolute most of the time I had outside of work to be with her. I hope she can appreciate the situation I find myself in, and that she might find herself in one day. I hope she knows that it's okay to be a stay at home mom, a working mom, or something in between. The most important thing is not if a mom works or stays home, but that she loves and spends time with her children, making a lifetime of happy memories.
But that doesn't mean I won't still envy those daycamp moms.