A Working Mother Confession: I’m Scared of My Baby
Ryan is going out of town in a few weeks—he’s headed to a “conference” in Vegas. Ahem. And I’ll be staying at home with Lila.
But will I be alone?
Because—and yes, I’m a little ashamed to admit this—the minute I found out he’d be going out of town, I called my mom and begged—BEGGED—her to come visit us during those days.
My mom agreed immediately. She’s the best.
Obviously I’m thrilled that she’s coming to visit. But, more than that—I felt relieved. And guilty. Because Lila is almost eleven months old now. And in the back of my head, I’m thinking—shouldn’t I feel comfortable enough to stay alone with her for a few days at this point?
The thing is, if I had to stay alone with Lila for days—weeks, months—without help from a family member, I could do it. I know I could. But the prospect of it still scares the shit out of me.
I’m friends with a lot of stay-at-home moms, moms whose husbands are gone a lot. A LOT. I know a lot of moms whose husbands leave for work at 5am and don’t get back until 7 o’clock or 8 at night. I know a lot of moms whose husbands travel for work frequently, going out of town for not days, but weeks at a time. I know a lot of stay-at-home moms whose husbands took a day or two off work when the baby was born, and then had to go back to the grind, leaving the mom alone to figure out this new screeching little creature whose life she was suddenly responsible for.
And the truth is…I never had that.
Ryan and I worked hard to make sure that our teaching schedules coordinated so that, when it comes down to it, neither one of us is really “alone” with Lila for more than a few hours straight. Of course, there are always exceptions—that other afternoon, our nanny needed to go home for an emergency, so I had Lila from noon until bedtime (7 pm).
I know, I know—you stay-at-home moms can stop rolling your eyes now. For a lot of moms, seven hours alone with the baby is nothing.
But it’s something to me. And the thought of keeping Lila on my own for days at a time? Frankly, that still scares me.
I love being a working mom. I love teaching. I love getting out of the house regularly, in real clothes that don’t reek of spit-up, and holding on to a piece of my identity that doesn’t involve diaper changes and sippy cups and crying.
Actually, sometimes it involves crying. Nineteen year-olds can be very dramatic when they discover at the end of the semester that coming to class was actually a necessary part of earning a passing grade.
But, as much as I love it, I have to admit that sometimes it seems like I’ve sacrificed a certain level of comfort that I should have with my baby by continuing to work. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m missing out on a lot of the big things—again, my schedule is flexible and my teaching is spread out across days so that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on time with Lila—certainly not in the same way that I’d feel if I worked, say, a regular 9 to 5 job.
But, I see other stay-at-home moms who can change diapers with one hand, moms who would think nothing of taking care of their baby sans help for days or weeks at a time—and I know that’s not me.
Being a working mom is great, but it also means that I never really had those sink-or-swim, baby bootcamp days of taking care of an infant all on my own.
Maybe I should just shut up and count my blessings, but I can’t help feeling like a weaker parent because of it.
Someday (I think) I’ll get to the point where I won’t need (or want) help if Ryan is going out of town for a few days. I’ll think, Oh, that’s nothing! I can handle that!
But that day is not today. Today, I am grateful for a mama who says, Of course I’ll come stay with you! I am grateful for a mama who doesn’t say, Don’t you think you should be able to take care of that baby on your own?
Of course, my mama was a working mama too…so maybe she knows just how I feel.