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A Working Mother Confession: I’m Scared of My Baby

February 23, 2013

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?

No.

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.  Winking smile

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2013 3:23 pm

    Great post! I think we all have to find our identities after we have children. Some of us totally are happy being 100% Mom 100% of the time. I like having a LITTLE more balance on the other side. Josh travels quite frequently (he was gone this whole week)- so I’ve definitely had a lot of weeks where I”m way more Mom than anything else.

  2. February 23, 2013 3:46 pm

    You are very sweet – thanks for the compliment. But, the way I remember the conversation is that you asked me and I was VERY EXCITED and said “You bet!!” I’m glad to have the opportunity to spend some time with you and Lila – I can’t wait! By the way, I think you’re a great mom – and the proof is in that sweet, happy little girl. You and Ryan are doing a great job!

  3. February 23, 2013 4:43 pm

    Great post and I can’t blame you for calling in a little family support! My sister’s son is 5 and she still calls my mom for as much help as possible when her husband leaves on a business trip – it’s tough juggling work and a single parent.

  4. Laura C. permalink
    February 23, 2013 6:12 pm

    I am a bigger wuss than you! Because I stay at home with Amelia all day everyday, so I DEFINITELY should be comfortable enough to handle a few days without my husband, but nope, I’m not. You know that when he goes out of town, I run off to stay with my parents whenever possible. He has a 2 week trip coming up in March and there’s a chance I won’t be able to go to my parents’ house for that trip, and I just get a pit in my stomach every time I think about it.

    There’s also the worry that he’ll miss out on important things. Amelia started crawling while Brandon was in the Middle East last month. There’s a chance that Brandon will have to take a 22 day furlough at some point this year, and while I ought to be hoping that doesn’t happen because it will hurt us financially, I just can’t bring myself to feel upset about the possibility of him being around more.

    My parents love it though. Every time my dad sees Brandon, he has only one thing to say, “when are you going out of town again?” There’s been only one time I stayed here while Brandon was out of town, and my dad was genuinely disappointed. Just think of it as an opportunity for Lila to spend time with your mom. That’s priceless!

  5. February 25, 2013 1:50 pm

    I completely understand this! I was a stay at home mom with Max and it is scary at first to have extended periods without your wingman! Don’t feel guilty about having your mom come and stay with you. You’re lucky to have her as a back up and I’m sure she’s happy to come stay with you two. I think it’s a perfect situation if you ask me! Tony’s leaving Thursday and won’t be back until Monday…could you come hang with me? I’m seriously outnumbered with teenage hormones here this weekend! 😉

  6. cransell permalink
    February 25, 2013 9:06 pm

    I feel like this too. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that then you get no break, which is exhausting. You are never not the one “on”.

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