My very first blog began in 2003 (or so…) as an assignment in Andy Dehnart’s class. I was a junior at Stetson University and I was new to the concept of “new media,” but I knew I liked it. Since the 7th grade, I’ve been fascinated by the internet. I was the first of my friends to have email, the first to start a website (geocities, baby!) and the first to use the internet to do research for projects (hotbot.com, suckas!). Thus, I was a total DWEEB. Whatevs, I grasped the concept of blogging in Dehnart’s class many years later and latched on. I’m glad I fastened my seatbelt, because it’s been a bumpy ride. The honesty I portrayed on that blog (as I continued it past the class it was required for) led to problems in my relationships, probably leading to a much-needed breakup, but also to the painful ending of a friendship. But when I began my “stay-at-home-mom” gig, I was introduced to the “mommy blog” and I was hooked again.
I started blogging at a site that bore my name and eventually came to be titled “Not Just A…” Yeah. It now redirects here. I told you I know my way around the internet. At that time, I was desperate to be known as more than my titles of “wife,” “mom,” and the biggest and at times, most burdensome of all, “Pastor’s Wife.” That blog moved with me through many changes: blogging conferences, working with a few small brands, moving to Missouri, and the pain and heartache that led my little family back to Florida. When we moved back, it became apparent that I would need to give up that sweet gig as a stay-at-home-mom and become something else; something I swore I never would be: A Daycare Mom.
And thus, Life After Daycare was born. My intentions were to write about my daily life as a working mother of one, putting her child in day care to be influenced by others while she pursued her ambitions…and to let others know that that is okay. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have a lot of respect for stay-at-home-moms. I’ve been there and worked in the poop-filled trenches. But for me at least, that was NOTHING compared to the work it takes to be a working mom. I would venture to say that the average working mother gets off of work at around 5:00. Depending on your workplace’s distance from the day care and then the day care’s distance from home, you are lucky to get home by 6. Young children need a lot of sleep, especially if they are getting up and out of the house early to make it to day care on time. So if your child is going to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 at night, you have at the most (in perfect conditions, if you live and work very close to your day care) 2.5-3 hours to spend time with your child, eat dinner, give bath(s), and get him/her/them to bed. And you still have all those household things to take care of like dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc. It can be overwhelming.
But those 2.5-3 hours? That’s where life really happens. Working moms, if you’re like me, you find fulfillment in your daily work in some way, shape, or form. However, once you pick up your little one (or two, or three…) from day care, it’s like the alarm goes off, you wake up, and you’re alive again. It’s almost as if you’ve been in suspended animation throughout your work day, and then there they are–greeting you with hugs and sticky kisses from snacks you wouldn’t dare give them at home; smelling like disinfectant from their classroom, and you can breathe and move again. In day care land, time stands still. And then it roars to life. And that’s where the magic happens.
No, this does not mean that you should be expected to have the energy to complete 4 Pinterest projects with your youngster(s) between arrival at home and bed time. What it means is that just the mere fact that you leave your child(ren) with people other than you for the day makes time just kind of…stop. It doesn’t mean that your day was easy or that you aren’t exhausted. Trust me, I know that you are because I am. And yes I yell and get impatient. But this is where we squeeze the life out of the day and get it back into our hearts. In those precious 2.5-3 hours we have with our kids.
Tomorrow, my son starts Kindergarten. If you had asked me, in the early days of this blog, through the haze of postpartum depression, if we would ever get here, I would have said “I sure hope so.” If you had asked me, when my husband and I were so wounded we could barely speak of hope, if we would ever get here, I would have said “I don’t know.” If you had asked me, when I took the leap of faith to put Zeke in day care and finish my Master’s degree, then going on to work full-time, I would have answered “I think we’re going to be okay.” I learned that it’s not the end of the world if you have to put your child in day care; that life goes on, and for us working moms, the real life happens when we pick them up. It’s not the end of the world, because eventually he or she is going to grow into a little kid (not a baby anymore) that is going to need to go to Kindergarten. And that’s just day care with homework.