Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I am the vampire that loves sunshine and garlic

So here it is, the reason I work ungodly hours:

Back in 2004, I was happy working 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday. I enjoyed eight hours of sleep every night, had weekends free to go anywhere and do anything with the Grinch. It was great. Then I found out that I was pregnant with the Bug and we had to come up with a childcare plan.

There were plenty of choices: hire a nanny, find a good daycare, one of us could quit our job and stay home with the bug OR I could go to an overnight shift, Grinch could stay with the Bug in the morning and I could stay home with her all day.

So, here's how it broke down:

NANNY, DAYCARE: Really fucking expensive for a good one. We have a good family income, but we didn't want to spend a lot of it paying a strangers to raise our child. We don't believe in outsourcing parenting. I know that'll make a lot of people man and yes, I fully understand that some people have no choice but to put their kids in daycare (my sisters did it, friends do it. I get it, really.). But we believe that a child's best place, especially for the first year, is at home with a parent. If we could have paid a grandparent to stay with the bug all day we would have done it, but the bug's grandparents are all crazy, so that wasn't really an option.

STAY AT HOME: At the time, becoming a Stay at Home Mom sounded horrible to me. I was a career woman, thank you very much. I'd worked long and hard to get where I was and didn't feel like I could afford to just drop everything and walk away from it to raise a child. People pat you on the back for making a decision like that but I know for a fact that many employers roll their eyes, shake their heads and wonder the hell you're thinking, walking away from the best gig you'll ever have. I wanted to keep working and was afraid of what would happen if I didn't

Grinch works with his Dad and there had been talk about passing on the family business to the Grinch so, at the time, it didn't make sense for him to walk away either. Plus, the Grinch's Dad is a very old school sort of fellow. He believes that women stay at home, knit, cook, clean house, keep their mouths shut and raise children. Explaining a new age career choice like "Stay at home Dad" to him would have been like trying to convert the Pope to Islam. Also, we realized that to live where we live, we NEED two incomes. We love our neighborhood and couldn't imagine moving out to the 'burbs.

So that leaves:
Working Overnights: I'd done it before and didn't mind it too much, really. It screws up your body clock and you're tired almost all the time, but the people on the shift are cool, the work is challenging, and when you're done you have all day to do whatever you want. Plus, I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year and working overnights seemed the best way to accomplish that, since I'd be gone while the bug was asleep and home all day so that she could get her milk straight from the source.

We thought about it, made spreadsheets (my dear orderly German Grinch and his dear spreadsheets), discussed, debated and made our decision. When we told people we were having a baby, that was the first question, "Are you going to stay home/Have you found a daycare/nanny?" We told people about the overnight plan. Jaws fell open. Heads shook in disbelief. Eyes rolled. There were inquiries about our sanity, our finances, our knowledge of infant care. We stuck to our plan and, much to every one's surprise, it's worked for two years.

It works like this: I work 2a-10a and come home around 10:30. Grinch is with the Bug all morning, feeding, changing and partying with her. He goes to work around 11a. At 1:30p, the Bug and I nap for two hours. We eat, play, read and run around until bedtime at (hopefully) 8:30p-9p. I crash until 1:30a then it's up and back at 'em for another day.

That's not to say it's been perfect. In fact, the first six months flat out sucked. Grinch and I fought a lot, I didn't know how to get the Bug on a regular nap schedule so she and I napped in 15 minute increments throughout the day, I got sick a lot, I was exhausted ALL the time, and I rarely got out of the house because I was terrified she would fall asleep in the car and if she was sleeping that was sleep that I was missing.

Slowly, but surely, things got better. The Bug went to one luxurious two-hour nap early on, I found a group of Mom friends to hang with, we found parks and playgrounds just right for us and came up with ways to pass the rainy days, too.

There are days I wish I could change everything: quit my job, stay at home and get eight hours of sleep every blessed night. Or go ahead, throw up my hands, hire a nanny and go back to the 9-to-5 life. But I can't. This whole schedule has been so great for the Bug. She's such a shy, cautious little kid that throwing her into daycare would have rocked her world right to the core. I've learned so much from being home with her and the Grinch's heart has grown 10 sizes since he started taking care of her in the mornings.

We're all better for it. We may be more tired and the Grinch and I don't see each other very much, but we do it knowing that it's best for the kid and that it won't be like this forever. We do it because we believe it's the right thing to do for us. For our family.

1 comment:

Mehalia said...

Keep up the good work.