I had to grow up so much last week. For the first time since my daughter’s birth, I had to leave home to start a new job–and in the process, change our child care options from ME to STRANGER. Hence, insomnia, anxiety, and a level of worry I’m fairly sure was nearing the red zone. And guilt. Lots of guilt.
It was an exhausting week, but we all made it–father, mother and daughter. I learned a few important things: first, that my daughter, who turns six months’ old Monday, is a pretty cool kid, and pretty resourceful even with changes that seem to knock her Mom and me flat with panic.
I also learned that we’ve got one amazing support system–family, friends, and friends of friends–all of whom stepped up to help us take care of our daughter and to find options that would give our baby the best care possible, while allowing my wife and I to sleep at night and work by day without sneaking off to the bathroom to have a meltdown. (Um, yeah, let’s say I’m talking only about my wife, okay?)
I also was really touched by how many of you sent messages of support. While I didn’t have the energy to put my thoughts and feelings into words until today, I read those messages and felt connected to a world of parents out there who’ve been through these tough sleepless nights before.
It amazes me, on reflection, how hard it is to both afford good child care–and to find it. How do people do this? My wife and I do well, and feel reasonably smart, but navigating the world of child care–especially when we hadn’t expected to need it–was like finding out from a pilot that contrary to our original plans, we wouldn’t be landing the plane, but all learning to parachute. Scary stuff.
And the money is shocking. It’s your baby–so naturally you want the best that’s out there. And yet the best, it turns out, is tough to get, and nowhere near cheap. I thought many times this week about one parent (and one income) families and how difficult it must be–not just to afford the care you want, but to go through the emotional side of letting go alone. It makes places like this–where we can support each other and laugh together–all the more important.
So thanks for asking, I made it. And tomorrow I go back to work. I imagine it’ll never be easy to leave my heart in someone else’s hands for a full day, but at least that first week is over. And for what it’s worth, kicking and screaming, this Dad did some growing up.