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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Out the other side [20130203|11:07]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |hand::staple::forehead]


[Humuhumu in her lime-green bumbo, wearing a white onesie adorned with lions, zebras and giraffes.]

So, I've had...a week. It's been a tumultuous experience. The hormones are subsiding. My hair has finally started to fall out. I lost none for almost six months and I was worried that my head was going to develop its own microclimate due to the size of my 'do, so this is a good thing. This relatively minor positive is offset by the rather large negative effect, which is that the mellowness conferred by my body forcing me into the immediacy of baby needs has also subsided. I'm aware of the passage of time again, and with that awareness comes the knowledge that I'm now over halfway through my maternity leave.

Humuhumu is becoming more physically independent. She can hold her head up and control her arms and legs. She is also awake for longer periods of time, during which her need for attention is no longer solely driven by the state of her stomach. It's difficult trying to figure out what will entertain her, and when I do discover something I find I have to do the same thing (crinkle a toy, make a whooshing noise, show her a picture a book) fifty times. Frankly, it's boring. A part of me looks forward to paying somebody else to do this. I fear mental atrophy.

Another part of me feels tremendously guilty about returning to work. We paid a visit to Humuhumu's nursery last week. It looks pretty fantastic. The staff and the children come from a variety of racial & ethnic backgrounds (important to me). They're tremendously accommodating - willing to help with weaning, to use cloth nappies and to set up a series of introductory visits in March & April before she starts in May. Humuhumu herself loved the visit, goggling at everyone. And yet it did nothing to assuage my unease. It's as if Dirk Gently's fridge has taken up residence in my head. I don't want to open the door for fear of being hit full in the face by a newborn guilt god.

There is no rational basis for this guilt. It will be good for Humuhumu to be with other children, so she doesn't grow up thinking herself the centre of the universe. She loves watching older children and learning from them. The nursery staff are trained and paid to help small children develop, and they can do it better than I can. Still, I feel trapped. If I didn't return to work, I would do myself a huge disservice. Because I am returning to work, I fear doing the same to Humuhumu.

I welcome suggestions for comfort reading for women who decide not to be full-time mums and still manage to raise healthy, happy children. I desire validation for my life choices.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: imho_im_a_givin
2013-02-04 05:33 (UTC)
maybe this'll help: http://www.parenting.com/article/mom-guilt?page=0,0

Such a complicated personal decision! I'm sure that many wonderful parents can find tons of things to feel guilty about so I hope that decisions don't become an incredible burden or the lesser of 2 evils.

Very hesitant to provide much information that might interfere with such a personal decision including a list of questions to ask yourself. Keep looking 'til you find your answers.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-05 15:09 (UTC)
Thank you for the supportive words! I know it's better for me to go back to work for many, many reasons (not least significantly, financial ones). I know lots of other people have done so successfully and manage to be good parents too. For ultimate comfort, I'd like to have their experience for myself and be able to view it objectively, which is impossible, but I want it anyway. :P
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[User Picture]From: dylsexia
2013-02-04 11:47 (UTC)
I don't have any advice, or articles for you to read.
But just remember that quality vs quantity.

I didn't spend as much time with my parents as I could have as a child.

They were on the road from January - March going to trade shows and working. I was on the road with them during the Summer, but mostly with my dad rather than my mom.

But the fact is that when they were around they wanted to spend time with me. My dad answered all of my silly little kid questions with complete seriousness.

"Dad, why is the sky blue?"
Dad describes how light scatters through the atmosphere.

You can't spend every minute of your child's life with them. But you can make sure that during the time that you spend with them: you are listening and caring and respectful and treating them as a Genuine Human Being™. And hell, if my mom was a freaking rocket scientist I would totally brag to the other kids at daycare. :)

Just do what you are doing. You can't be in both places at once, so just pick the environment that you think is best for Humuhumu to develop in, and when you are around be there for them and bond with them.

My dad said that before he had kids he always thought they were boring until they started talking, but after he had my sister he realized that watching your child learn and communicate and play before they even learn how to speak was really interesting and fun.

:) I'm sure you're doing the best job you can.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-05 15:20 (UTC)
You can't spend every minute of your child's life with them. But you can make sure that during the time that you spend with them: you are listening and caring and respectful and treating them as a Genuine Human Being™.

Wise words. Also you reminded me that I spent quite a lot of time away from my parents as a child (boarding with my grandparents during the school year) and I never resented their absences. I think I gained more by effectively having four parents.

And hell, if my mom was a freaking rocket scientist I would totally brag to the other kids at daycare. :)

Humuhumu's nursery is attached to the university. Most of the other children are the sons & daughters of lecturers and professors. I'm afraid she won't get as much cachet out of that statement as she otherwise might. ;)

Thank you for the reassurance!
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[User Picture]From: void150
2013-02-04 12:29 (UTC)
My son's almost two and he's been going to nursery for a bit more than one year (four days a week). He got used to it very quickly and had no real problems settling in initially. He seems to really enjoy being around the other kids and made a couple of friends in the first few months. It's great; although he's always keen to come home in the evenings he's learned a lot about social interaction. I do feel bad sometimes that we're not there with him for so much of his waking life but I suppose that's normal - and unavoidable for most people. But they do teach him stuff we wouldn't be able to teach him ourselves.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-05 15:50 (UTC)
I'm so glad to read this. I hope Humuhumu has a similar reaction. She's rarely a clingy baby so I suspect she'll be dashing off away from us as soon as she's mobile. I think as long as we treat our time with her as valuable, as you do, we should be okay.

Also, both of us working means a much better financial situation for all of us, and even if she's not aware of that, her parents will be in good frames of mind because of it.
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[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2013-02-05 17:22 (UTC)
I don't feel that you need to give up your career. Plenty of women return to work after maternity leave is over and are good mothers. My stepdaughter is an incredibly happy, healthy and well loved little girl. She is very well adjusted and smart. Her mom works full-time and both her dad and I work full-time as well. While she isn't in traditional daycare, she is looked after by her grandmothers and is surrounded by children (her brothers and other kids the grandmothers watch).

If you feel you want to be there more for her but don't want to give up working, find out if there is a possibility some of the work you are doing can be done from home. Or if you can't maybe dad can do some work from home occasionally?

Seeing as how you mentioned the nursery is attached to where you work, you can always pop by (on lunch or breaks from work).

Edited at 2013-02-05 05:26 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:37 (UTC)
While she isn't in traditional daycare, she is looked after by her grandmothers and is surrounded by children...

See, this is the part I wish I could negotiate for Humuhumu. I had grandparents around the whole time I was growing up and I'm sure it did wonders for me and for my parents' sanity. Unfortunately one set of grandparents has three sets of grandchildren in different places in the UK. And the other set lives in the States and it would be very difficult for them to move. *sigh*

The nursery is actually attached to the bloke's work, so I think it will be him who does the popping by on lunch breaks! (I already work from home three days a week but it's not legal for me to be looking after the baby while working, so I'd have to hire a nanny if I wanted her to be home with me.)
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2013-02-06 09:22 (UTC)
I know a book that has been reassuring me that my kid will be fine well ahead of my parenting years, by Ayelet Waldman: "Bad Mother" http://www.bookdepository.com/Bad-Mother-Ayelet-Waldman/9780385527934 Smart, funny, touching, kind.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:34 (UTC)
Wonderful, thank you. (And thank you also for the non-Amazon link. Am trying to break my reliance on them.)
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2013-02-14 01:12 (UTC)
No worries! And I follow the author on Twitter, so mentioned you and asked for encouraging words, which she gave: https://twitter.com/ayeletw/status/301857541745438721 :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-14 14:42 (UTC)
B'awww, that's lovely. Thank you! :D
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[User Picture]From: sekl
2013-02-06 12:07 (UTC)
A good nursery or caretaker is everything. It will allow you to relax and focus on work. I felt guilty every time I went back to work and at the same time happy to be back in control of my world. You'll get into a routine and so will she. There will be days you'll be relieved to get to work and days you're relieved to come home to her and shut work out.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:32 (UTC)
It's very, very good to hear you say that. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2013-02-07 22:46 (UTC)
Frankly, it's boring.

I know!! It's very good to hear someone else say so too. I think I'm encountering strains of 6 month delayed post-natal depression. It's not fun. I need to go back to work (in July), but my work is too far away, commute-wise - it's a lose-lose scenario. I'll try it, but I don't know what's going to happen. It's very stressful. I also won't work full time - it doesn't seem fair to suddenly leave him full time at only a year old. There is no easy answer, you just have to make your choices and make the most of them, I think.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:32 (UTC)
Oh man, I hear you on the delayed depression. (I'm sure it doesn't help that no one is asking about it any more.) I'm fighting it (and boredom) more now than I was at the start. I think I was just too tired and focused on figuring out what baby wanted at first to have any energy to worry about myself.

Your work situation is tough. Is there any way you could negotiate working from home some days? I know that's what saves my sanity with living in one city and working in another.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2013-02-07 22:51 (UTC)
(Also, I put Thomas in one of those little seats on Wednesday at toddler group, and his thighs barely fitted the holes, and he arched his back and tried to do a backflip out! He would've made it, too, if I hadn't stopped him.)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2013-02-11 20:28 (UTC)
Ha, yes, I think the Bumbo seats can be pretty dangerous once they get wriggly. Humuhumu is still wobbly enough that she is pretty safe in one but I don't know how long that'll last. It helps that her nappy gives her a giant gooshy butt that wedges her in place.
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