Thursday marked Dubya’s 18-week birthday. At a little over four months old, she is a sweet, smiley baby who has the best cackle this side of the Mississippi. She charms her father and me daily, tackles play with determination and aplomb, and loves her best friends, Toucan Samantha and Dr. Monkey. If you had told me how happy she would become, given her rushed, starved, and difficult entrance into the world, I would have had a hard time believing you. And I would firmly tell you that her misery was my fault, all my fault.
Now I know better. That she is such a happy baby is because we love her so and have put her needs first to help her navigate this big, scary world. I hope we can continue to provide her much happiness as she figures out more and more. We are good parents, no matter how she came into the world, no matter what she eats, no matter what.
On Monday, I go back to work. I love my job and know that this is the right thing to do. Yet I feel an incredible pang of regret that I don’t have a longer amount of time with Dubya. Even though stay-at-home momdom is not for me, being here for her first year would be a tremendous gift.
The thing is, we could afford it, my being away for a year or more.
The thing is, even as I crave staying near her, I’m not sure I could do it well in the long term.
If the past 18 weeks have taught me anything, it’s that being a stay-at-home mom would be a tough thing. I think I lack the intrinsic creativity, outgoing personality, and emotional intelligence that being a SAHM requires. I love spending the day with Dubya, but I’m not particularly good at getting us out the door and to activities. Am I good at meeting people for lunch? Sure. Would I be good at finding mom groups, making friends, and giving Dubya the social, educational, and active stimulation that she needs? I’m not sure. Because of this, I think daycare will be a boon to her – she is a high-energy baby who loves to engage in activities and is happiest at play. I’m a good playmate, but I feel that her caretakers will give her a lot of the interaction she needs throughout the day.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to hone my writing career and provide a working mom role model to Dubya. I’ll be doing what I love, which will bring more balance and happiness to our family. I will teach her what I love and learn what it is she’s learning to love. Together, we’ll thrive.
There’s no denying it’s been a wonderful 18 weeks, though. The first few were tough – I will never forget the sinking feeling that I would not be able to take care of her like she deserved. Day by day, it got better. The past month has been a gem – even transitioning her to her crib, which felt painful in the first few days, has eased out into something she enjoys (she’s putting herself to sleep these days; not without a little fussing, but if I try to hold her, she fusses so much more). She is a baby who can roll with the punches and can learn with the greatest of ease.
She is just a joy. Can she throw us for a loop and make us question everything we’ve been doing up until now? Yeah. But then we all adjust, reset, and wait for the next change as a group of three.
Dubya never ceases to amaze me. From her gummy, wonderful smiles that greet me each morning to her determination in hitting all her milestones early, there is something special about her. She is a strong, smart baby who is already striving to leap out of my arms, eager to explore the world. Since she was born, I knew there was a lot going on thanks to her eyes – her eyes are bright, expressive, filled with intelligence. Lately, she’s been proving me right over and over again.
With leave at an end, here’s to another new beginning.