It's been two and a half years since I've become a work-from-home mom, and I wouldn't have it any other way ... or at least, that's what I initially thought. With the promise of working from the comfort of my home and raising my two boys (now almost 3 and 1½), I envisioned this happily ever after that involved taking conference calls, meeting deadlines, and having lunch and snacks ready before any signs of hangry meltdowns emerged. While this has been my life for some time, the reality of needing a lifeline in the form of childcare has surfaced.
This week was the first time my kiddos left me for the entire day since, well, ever. And while we all survived being separated for nine hours, I find myself navigating through a series of emotions I never thought I would feel when it comes to enrolling my boys at a local early learning center.
After all, it's not like I won't get them back -- or they'll disappear into a wardrobe somewhere. Still, these are the feels I felt before, during, and after dropping them off at daycare.
More from CafeMom: 10 Feels You'll Have Your First Night Away From Baby
1. Feeling inadequate.
As much as I pride myself on being able to juggle work-life balance and "have it all," in the back of my mind, I realize I can't give all of myself to my kids 24/7. I would love to spend endless hours building towers to knock them down, watch Sesame Street, and chase my boys around the yard. But I also have a work responsibility that requires me to actually focus on work.
Accepting that I can't be my boys' everything has been a tough pill to swallow, but one that's necessary in order to make changes for the better.
2. A sense it's time.
In the short amount of time I've been a mother, I'm so thankful to say I've had wonderful memories with my sons -- poop, vomit, and all. It's been such a blessing to me and my husband to be able to work from home with them for so long -- but as they get older, we realize it's only a matter of time before they need to buckle down and prepare for school.
Kindergarten is no joke. (Seriously, my oldest will have to complete an assessment test just to get into public school.)
3. Joy in finding certified caregivers and instructors.
You could've called me Charlie last week as I was in chocolate factory heaven. (Well, the learning center version.) Although I didn't find any Everlasting Gobstoppers, Scrumdiddlyumptious, or a golden ticket, in my heart, I knew I made the right decision. Not only will my children be able to play and learn (their preschool curriculum is pretty awesome), breakfast, lunch, and snacks are #handled.
Yup, I'm soo here for it!
4. Happiness to get a potty training lifeline.
There aren't enough hallelujahs I can shout to let y'all know how thankful I am to get help with potty training during the day. Yes, my husband does help when he comes home, but honey, waiting until the evening to pass off a kid to him can feel like an eternity.
While I have seen some victories and defeats in this realm, I'm very happy to have help on the two days my boys will go to their early learning center each week. Potty training is so hard!
More from CafeMom: When a Potty-Trained Kid Has Accidents: 12 Dos & Donts
5. Guilt for seeking help.
Let's face it -- when it comes to raising kids, moms are damned if they use childcare and damned if they don't. Some loved ones wonder what the heck took so long for me to put the boys in childcare, and others are wondering if things -- including my marriage (we all know someone who's extra) -- are all right because I now need help. Just because I've tasted the fruits of staying at home with my boys does not mean I can't see the value in the benefits of childcare or an early learning center. Most of their teachers are mothers who are passionate about what they do and love being able to assist mommies in every way that they can.
Why wouldn't I want to take advantage of that?
6. Horror coming to grips with the childcare costs.
As awesome as I think childcare can be, it is REALLY expensive! I could kiss the dirt in the flower bed outside my boys' early learning center every time I pass it. My husband and I were very fortunate to find a daycare that doesn't require one of us to sell our spleen on the black market. For what our kiddos get the two full days they're there each week -- including meals, diapers for my 1-year-old, and the occasional parent's night out -- it's totally worth every penny.
... I never realized how many pennies parents are left with after they pay their weekly bills. (Kidding, but kinda serious.)
I can't imagine, however, what families do when they need to put their child in a daycare the entire workweek. I've seen the cost of other facilities that often add up to a second mortgage or rent payment. Hell, I'd pay just that (more, actually) if I wanted my two boys to go Monday through Friday! Tasting this really put things in perspective for me, as it's often easy to hear about the crazy costs of daycare but not really know until you have to pay for it.
We really need to do better for moms and dads.
7. Dealing with the eeriness of a quiet house.
I know my children are going to be okay, but that reassurance does not make the fears I have for their safety automatically go away. I was a bit nervous the first full day my 2- and 1-year-old little guys were away from me -- and while I kept my cool dropping them off, the silence at home was a bit eerie to me. I didn't hear them running to play with toys they rediscovered underneath the furniture. I didn't have to rush to prepare three meals between meetings -- and make sure my 2-year-old's veggies didn't touch the meat. And I didn't have one of my boys hugging against my pant leg.
As much as I always joke about having peace and quiet at home, I felt uncomfortable without my daily dose of laughter, yelling, and chaos.
8. Excitement for what's to come.
No matter how much I turn into my mother on the inside when the time comes to drop off my kids (you'd think someone in the family died), a huge part of me gets excited for their journey, what they're going to learn, and all the things they'll discover. I'm constantly amazed at all the fun things they get to do the days they head off to childcare, and thanks to modern technology (their learning center has an app that updates parents every time their child eats, snacks, uses the bathroom, does something fun -- and even sends pics), I feel like I get to be a part of the adventure from afar.
More from CafeMom: 6 Reasons Daycare Is Great for Your Kid
Yes, it would be great if I could keep growing boys as babies in my house forever (okay, maybe just a few more years), but they are in fact growing. The smiles my tiny gents have on their faces every time I pick them up lets me know I made the right decision -- for everyone. Although I'm still new to the childcare game, I do look forward to what it brings.
Whether you need an extra lifeline or depend on daycare so you can work to put food on the table, this experience has been a welcome change in my home that reassures me it's okay to rely on community.
And though I'm still new to this childcare game, I do look forward to what it brings, as it will help all of us as my tots transition into school-age children.
Image via ChiccoDodiFC/Shutterstock