It’s time for my bi-weekly reflection on staying home and returning to work. Let’s begin.
A woman in my mothers’ group asked what Bama’s and my routine is like. She said that she refocuses her day around her daughter when she’s with her (she works part time) whereas I am home with Bama everyday. Is my day like hers, she asked.
Mister and I generally trade-off getting up with Bama. The other one gets an extra hour or two of sleep. If it’s me who gets up, we have oatmeal or pancakes (really, people, these things take all of 10 minutes to make, it’s not a big deal), fruit, and yogurt. We used to nurse and read, then have quiet time and read, but when we weaned (you know, to help jump start the whole next baby business), she drifted away from that cozy morning routine. Bummer. Anyway. We play in the house until her nap. Mister usually takes her on a walk on his mornings. They visit the coffee guy, say hello to Bakesale Betty or her husband or Bama’s favorite people who work at the bakery.
I try to cook when she is a sleep, but I don’t do this everyday. I can’t. I need a little downtime. Sometimes, during her nap, I nap. Or read. Or watch TV and knit. Or whatever. But I don’t do laundry or cooking or cleaning, which is double-edged because I get a little time to myself, but I have more to do later. We are often in the kitchen together, either cooking or cleaning or both. She slept through most a couple of cooking sprees last week, but not through the dishes. During these times, she plays in the kitchen with me or in her play space which has moved a couple of times but seems to have settled in a corner of the living room where I can see her from the sink area — handy if you have a mound of pots and pans and tiny bowls and little forks to wrestle.
We go to the store. We play. We go on walks. She plays alone. We read. We nap. Bama plays well alone. So does Mr. Wilson. I’ve been wrestling a lot of with temperament (nature) vs. nurture and think it’s a bit of each. Bama and Mr. Wilson like to tinker with things, but they also have mamas or papas who can’t spend an entire day just on them. Nor do they have a nanny or other caregiver. Sometimes they have to do for themselves. I think that’s okay. She seems okay. It’s our trade-off. She won’t learn another language from me, whereas her friends are learning Spanish, German, and Mandarin, but we’ll figure that part out later.
Some of our days are quiet, inside days. We watch the world from our front windows. We like to see the garbage and recycling trucks come by. We love the street cleaners. Our new friend, nickname undecided by for now he’s The Crush, loves trucks and buses and can say truck and bus when they go by. I think that’s cool. I’d love for Bama to yell truck when our street cleaner friend trundles by.
There are big trade-offs with staying home. I love it. I do. But our budget is tighter. People think I’m a nutter for giving up a career. It can be isolating to stay home. Minutes pass, too many minutes, where I’m lost in my own thoughts and Bama’s on her own. I second guess our playtime; I wonder if I leave her to her own devices too often. She’s not learning another language from a caregiver.
Every few days I ask Mister if he’d like me to go back to work. He bears the burden of being our breadwinner, alliteration not withstanding. He does not get to see Bama as much as I do. By the end of the week, she’s saying mamamamamama when over the weekend she lets a Bapa/paba/baba slip out now and again. He says most of his male friends wish they could be home full or part time with their babies.
But we neither of us think that teaching makes sense financially or emotionally for us. I’d spend a little more than half a paycheck on childcare, if I stuck to a 40 hour week. If you know a teacher, you know that 40 hour weeks are hogwash, especially for English teachers . We could afford some extras if I worked, but we would all lose more, especially Bama and me.
The simple truth is that I don’t want to work at a job while I have my daughter. I can’t figure out a way to teach even part time (at my current school) and have it make sense financially and emotionally. I like being home with Bama, even with all the cutbacks and periodic loneliness.