The Countdown is On…

Four months to go. Four months of my maternity leave is left. 118 days until I’m sitting in my office and my sweet baby boy is in the care of someone else.

I know that seems like a long time away, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to live in a country where I’m able to spend a full year with my son. But to me, it’s not nearly long enough and my time at home with him is slipping away, day by day.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And by thinking about it, I mean completely obsessing over it. I go through endless options in my head, trying to think of a way that I can put off going back to work for at least another year or two. With daycare coming in at a whopping $1100 per month, there is more than just emotional incentive for me to stay at home. It seems ridiculous that I will be spending my days aching to see my little boy, and paying someone half of my monthly pay cheque for the benefit of it.

With seemingly no other option, I try to think of the benefits of daycare. He’ll get to socialize with other children his own age, something that he rarely does hanging out at home with me all day. He’ll take part in a variety of enriching activities (I’m actually quite happy with where he’ll be going; they have a full calendar of pretty cool daily activities including dance, arts, different languages, and gardening). Our time together, although limited, will be so much more special.

But (no matter what, I always come up with a “but”) he won’t be with me all day. Someone else will be there for milestones like his first words and possibly his first steps. They’ll get to know him day in  day out. I’ll get him up in the morning and put him to bed at night, and the rest of the day he’ll be with someone else. The thought of it is heart wrenching.

I have so many questions that no one can answer. Will he hate it? Will he cry when I drop him off and when I pick him up? Will he start to forget about me? Will he no longer consider me his primary caretaker? Will we still know each other as well as we do now, and have the same bond? Will the daycare providers treat him with the same love and respect that I do?

I hate it. I hate that I have to hand him over to someone else and trust that they’ll care for him the way that I would (which no one ever will or could). I hate that I’m going to be sitting in my office for eight hours a day answering mindless questions and doing work that is completely inconsequential when I should be caring for my baby. I would do anything to not have to go back to work. But (!) even with the exorbitant cost of child care, we still can’t afford to exist on one income.

So, for now, I’ll count down the days and try not to think too much about what’s coming up at the end of October. Being sad all day now will just ruin the last months that I have at home with him. I know that lots of people place their kids in full-time daycare and it works out. I’m sure it will get easier as time goes on, and I’m sure it won’t be nearly as awful as I’m imagining. I just wish that there were some other way.