Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Guilt, I Has It. Also, I Has Two Days of Rest a Week.

I always over-think things.  I know I do.  Every single one of the good decisions I’ve made in my life was made spontaneously, from the heart.  Usually followed by a good amount of supportive data collected after the fact, but always first proposed in an “OMG I’VE GOT IT!  I’M GOING TO [insert crazy thing here]!”  And if I try hard to make a good conscious decision, thinking and weighing the consequences, I’m likely going to make the wrong decision.  My past regrets are always ending with “well, it made sense at the time.” 

Sure, there are decisions that were made that made sense at the time that did not turn out to be bad.  This epitomizes that logical saying, “all trees are green things but not all green things are trees.” 

But because I over-think things, I then go back over the decisions that I made that I deemed “made sense at the time” to make sure that they still make sense and that they weren’t one of those bad decisions, because I know that I didn’t make it spontaneously so it could mean, in fact, that it was a bad decision but sometimes they aren’t bad, so which one is this, a bad decision or a good decision and oh, my god, someone hand me a drink ‘cause my head hurts.

If that last sentence made sense to you, you should have a drink too.

So what am I over-thinking these days?  Well, I put my child in childcare at 9 months of age. I could take a year off of school, but I wanted to go back before I forgot everything and when I went on maternity leave I was only a few months from finishing.  So I went back when Spawn was 6 months old and the Danish Boy took his three months of paternity leave to watch her.  But after three months, I wasn’t done with Danish, so once again I had to cross off another “when I have a child, I’ll never X” on my list. 

She’s in a private daycare, with one woman and a total of 5 children (including mine, the only baby), not one of those massive institutions that they have in DK, which may have a better ration of adults to children, but where the adults are often spending time with the other adults or focusing on one child exclusively because they assume the other adults are watching the other kids.  I get some flack for this, not just from Danes, but from other foreigners who say “oh, that’s a lot of children for one adult” but I feel far more comfortable watching our daycare minder keep tabs on her charges than when I see the ten children running wild at the large daycare while three adults sit on a bench chatting away with each other.

We originally chose our daycare minder because of location, but then when we met her, it just felt right.  And it always feels right when I drop the Spawn off (she tends to tear away from me and dive head-first into one of the toy boxes) and when I pick her up (she’s always glad to see me, but she’s never in a hurry to leave).  To this day, I’ve never once had to unwrap a crying child from my neck when we get to daycare.  The DB once remarked on this to a colleague, who suggested that it was because OBVIOUSLY we are such awful parents that our child must be glad to get away.  I told the DB that it would totally have been justifiable homicide, but he prefers to think that that not cutting the bitch is evidence of his highly evolved nature.  As an American, I am by default not as evolved… so she best sharpen her “It was just a joke, don’t you get Danish humor?” defense because I am sharpening my knives.

But why the guilt?

On Wednesday and on Friday, I don’t have class.  And on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I am out of class at 1:30.  And I don’t go get the Spawn from daycare.  I leave her there, until 4:30, every day.

At first it was because she naps in the afternoon, so getting her at 1:30 was interrupting her nap.  We did that the first week she was there and it SUCKED.  Then there was the problem that her schedule was all out of whack.  She only went three times a week, so establishing a routine was impossible.  See, it totally makes sense.  *Sound alarm bells!*

The truth is, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I really need non-baby time.  Yeah, time to do homework and housework, but also time to catch up on sleep and read and cuddle the cat.  *Open the big bag o’ guilt.*

It was only after I pulled a chest muscle and couldn’t lift the Spawn, which forced us to put her in daycare every day, all day, that I realized how much better it was for everyone.  Sure, I miss her bunches and I’m glad when she comes home.  But that’s just it - I actively look forward to seeing her!   After a long weekend, where I am the Spawn’s main companion (Dad and the cat are fun, but nobody beats the Mommy-lady), I’m exhausted.  Before I had the Spawn, I worried that I would be the kind of mom who just couldn’t wait to go back to work.  I discussed it with the Danish Boy, what would happen if I just really didn’t like being a mom?  What if I felt trapped or felt resentful?  So really, I like being a mom a hellufalot more than I thought.  But then the pendulum swings the other way.  Why can I not be the perfect mom who wants to stay home and nurture the child?  Some moms are forced to go back to work (cultural or economic reasons) and they would LOVE to be able to stay home or have more time with their child. 

So yeah, I’ve got some nice excuses: routine is good, she’s socializing, she’s getting her Danish lesson of the day, blah blah blah.  The truth is I cannot parent full-time.  In order to have that boundless patience, to be able to interact completely, to be able to read the Barnyard Animal book one more freaking time, I need to be able to sit in my pajamas until 3 in the afternoon twice a week.


  1. Please don't feel too guilty. I've dealt with the same kind of guilt (why can't I be like other Mom's and just be happy to stay at home with my kids all day?) and I've come to realize that a lot of my guilt stems from the feeling that I'm putting a need of mine (to have a career) ahead of my kids' needs. I love my kids, but when I'm with them all day, I become a less patient, less tolerant, less giving person - in essence a worse mommy. They deserve my best.

    Also, for all the reasons you mentioned, its good for the Spawn to be in daycare - glad you found one that you and she are both pleased with. It makes a helluva difference in the long run.

    There will always be people out there who will judge you because you aren't the perfect mommy. There isn't anything you can say to them, but just know that they often judge because they can perceive the flaws in their own choices. Haters gonna hate, period.

    I wish you the best.

  2. As a non-mommy I have no expert advice, but I would like to say I agree with Karen. Haters to the left, yo.

  3. What this decision proves is that sometimes you can think things out and come up with the right choice. Yeah, you could have kept her with you all the time and not have those moments to yourself to regroup and rest, but that wouldn't make you a better mom, just a better martyr, which isn't something you've ever aspired to.

    Just don't go all rational all the time on me, lady. I don't think I could stand that.

  4. It's FINE. It's working for you. She's thriving, you're thriving. It's all gravy.
    It's a damn sight better than feeling you have no choice but to have her home with you the whole time and hating yourself when the inevitable ill-humoured parenting happens out of sheer exhaustion and boredom. Keep up the good work, soldier! :D


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