Real talk: I love my kid. I do. She’s silly and sweet and says the most hilarious things. Plus her cheeks are the squishiest.
But sometimes I just need a break.
When I first started back to work a year ago (after spending 15 months at home on leave – a period of life I like to refer to as my “Mom Funk Era”), I was astonished to re-discover things I never even realized I missed and loved. Things like showering at a normal hour and on a regular basis. Actually putting make-up on. Having a reason to wear pants (like, real-people pants). Conversing with adults. Not talking about babies all day. Not eating a bag of chips for breakfast. Drinking – and finishing! – a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. Blaring obscene late 90’s R&B alone in the car and not caring about who judged me. Driving aimlessly with no direction or time-frame in mind.
The entire time I spent at home, I kept asking myself (and everyone around me with kids): when does life feel “normal” again? It was only until much later that I realized that life would feel normal again when I went back to work.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I could never be a stay at home Mom. I’m an extreme introvert, and I need to be alone with my thoughts every once in a while. I (sometimes) need to feel the freedom to go wherever I want without worrying about nap schedules or formula preparation. Otherwise, I feel trapped. Which makes me feel resentful. And depressed.
Deciding to go back to work and sending Ellie to daycare (I hate using that term, because I know it is SO much more than that) was the best thing I ever did for the two of us. After dropping her off (and once I was a respectable distance away from other parents), I’d drive away as fast as I could with my speakers up as loud as they could go. I’d order a piping hot coffee and finish it. I maybe even got a breakfast sandwich. I wore real, adult clothing and I talked to adults all day about adult-y things. For the first time in months, I felt truly happy and fulfilled. Childcare saved me.
Little did I know how much I would come to love the amazing ECE’s who spent their days with my girl. And who came to love her. So, here’s my ode to you amazing people:
Dear Early Childhood Educators who spend the day with my toddler:
Thank you. Thanks for being the only other people who care about what my kid ate (or, most often – didn’t eat) for lunch that day, or whether she napped. Thanks for listening to her endless questions all day long. Thanks for caring about her weird rashes and her delayed walking. Thanks for caring about her as if she were your own. And for cuddling and kissing and hugging her when I can’t be there.
And most of all, thanks for helping me to feel normal again.
A grateful, happy Mama