Hmmmm....where do I begin!
I am going back to work!!! After 3 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I am going to work! (Hooray!). I think it's going to be a job I'm going to love--it involves a lot of research and writing.
How is H1 taking it? Quite well I think. A lot of thoughts and preparations went into getting to where we are today. Even before I started applying for jobs, we got H1 enrolled in daycare. It took almost a month for her to settle down, but we finally got to a day that she didn't cry when leaving for daycare. It took a lot of planning and patience, but it finally paid off.
I think we took these decisions at the right time. H1was getting bored at home, as I couldn't give her my full attention all the time. There were chores for me to do --the cooking, cleaning and washing, and these were the times she was left to entertain her self. These too were the times when she got fuzzy and threw tantrums to get my attention. She was also becoming increasingly shy of strangers, lacking social skills and being extremely selfish (consequences of being an only child).
So, enrolling her in daycare was the best thing to do. She gets to know how to interact with people other than her mom and dad, how to have good social skills, learn how to make friends, be independent, learn to share; things I can't teach her at home effectively. Just yesterday, her teacher told me that H1 makes friends easily, and that she gets along with everybody in school, and not just the kids in her class. The teacher said that she is always hugging and kissing the other kids. And also that H1 has taken the youngest kid in school under her wings--that she is always guiding the little kid and makes sure that the 'baby' is not left out. I'm glad she is getting a taste of what its like to have a 'sibling' even though she doesn't have one of her own--yet.
When I was sure that a job was about to come my way, Hubby and I wanted to prepare H1 for staying the full-day at daycare (she was going half-day while I was applying for jobs). This too, we did with a lot of preparations. Throughout a month or so, I kept dropping hints about staying the whole-day to H1, that she might have to have her afternoon nap at school, how much fun it's going to be. Of course whenever I did say these things, she would protest saying "No!, I want to sleep with Ammi!", or "No! I want to go home with you". But I think it slowly went into her mind that these things will happen soon.
So, when the day came that we decided to keep her for more than half a day, things were not too bad. The day before that, I spoke with her teacher, told her of my intentions and got her to help me prepare H1. When I went to pick H1 up, I casually told her, "Ammi might get a little late tomorrow OK? So, you might have to have your nap with the other kids". And the teacher and I kept saying how much fun it's going to be. Then I took her upstairs to where the other kids were getting ready for their nap and showed her how much "fun" its going to be. Of course, H1 was protesting and crying. But when the day it self came for staying longer, she was quite OK. When I went to pick her up, she was her usual happy self, but told me that she "cried a little", but that the teacher laid down beside her and hugged her until she fell asleep.
Over a period of two weeks, I gradually extended the hours she stayed in daycare, so that she didn't notice the change. The first day I picked her up at 3.00 p.m. ; the next day at 3.30 pm.; then at 4.00 p.m.; and so on.
I am extremely happy with how things have turned out. And I am so gratefull for those lovely teachers for looking after my baby with such loving care. I am totally confident that H1 is happy there, that she doesn't have time to miss me; because, they are constantly engaged in fun activities and play. When I pick her up in the evening, all I see is a happy kid, and she is in no hurry to get back home. And I am determined to give her my full attention once I get back home and during the weekends, so that she will still feel secure in the knowledge that though Ammi is not around as much as she used to, she is as much loved as she always was.
So, I have no guilty feelings for 'letting strangers take care of my baby'. I feel I'll be a better mom and a person now that I'm working again, because I always felt that a part of me was missing while staying at home. I feel proud that I gave 3 total years of undivided attention to my child, but feel that time has now come for a big change....for all of us.