Tuesday, March 24, 2009

working motherhood

Ellis' first swing ride. He is so fun these days. So curious and happy to see new things.

I asked a fellow working mother if it gets easier to be away from your baby all day.
No, she said, it gets harder.

I didn't believe her. I thought that as he got older and as he enjoyed his social time with the kids at daycare, or the afternoons with his father...it would be easier to leave him.

I was wrong.
Its breaking my heart.

He starts to whine when he sees me packing my laptop away, getting my coat. He army crawls over to me. He wants to be held.

I know that after I leave he is fine. I know that his father takes good care of him, that the eight hours a week he spends at daycare with other kids are good for him.

I know that I have to work.

I know that we are lucky that he doesn't have to go to daycare every day of the week, that we have friends to trade childcare with, that he is healthy and happy and social, that we like the caretakers at our daycare, that our daycare is at Dave's college, just down the hall from his classroom.

Still, as I see how fast he is growing--a new skill mastered everyday--I understand how precious these days are. And eight hours away from him seems so long.

My relatives in the Netherlands have many options. They have subsidized childcare on site at their workplace. They have year long maternity leaves. They can job share with other mothers so that they have time off during the week. They have options.

I have a very flexible workplace. I shouldn't complain.

Still. There should be a value placed on mothering. A value that is reflected in labor laws, in company policies, in government subsidies, in our collective common sense.

Everyday in the news, another story about someone getting overpaid for a job they did badly, while public school teachers, social workers and parents get underpaid for the difficult jobs they have committed their lives to, jobs they are doing well.

All the price tags have been switched around.

I don't know how to write policy, but this is what I know to be true: No one can take better care of a child than its own mother/father/caretaker. Invest in ways to allow mothers and fathers to stay home with their children and you invest in your future citizens.
This is obvious to me.

I like going to work...

But I would like to have options.

I would like to be living in a country that gave me those options, that supported me in my efforts to raise my child. Tax credits are all good and fine. But they don't give me back those eight hours I miss everyday of watching him grow, of getting to know him, his preferences, his budding personality.

I miss him, everyday. I miss him.


1 comment:

  1. Bree-
    Thank you for writting this post! I have been feeling the same way. I also have to work. It sucks... I like what I do but it still sucks. It is only 3 days a week but I miss him so much during this time. Everyone says it is good for him to be social with other children. But I think it is better for him to be with his mommy. I will never get back those hours, minutes and seconds of his life. It makes me sad. I wish there were more options for us. I don't know that many people that work and use childcare. It is hard not to feel guilty. I envy stay at home moms.
    Thanks again!