Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daycare Pick Up: My Favorite Time of Day and My Least Favorite Part of the Day

The other day, I came across a post entitled My Favorite Time of Day by the working mother at the blog What She said. I bookmarked it because it resonated with me, and then subsequently lost the bookmark. But when I sat down to blog again today, it only took me a few seconds of Googling to find it again - and then a few seconds of reading to find the sentence that had made the whole post stand out in my mind in the first place:
As I pull into the daycare parking lot at approximately 4:45 each afternoon, my heart invariably skips a beat and somewhere in the depths of my stomach I feel a flock of tiny butterflies take flight in anticipation of seeing her again.
Why did it resonate with me? Because it's how I wish I felt as a working mother. I may be opening myself up to criticism by saying this, but I do not rush out of the office with a spring in my step to pick up the Babby at the end of my workday. I drag myself. I dither. I dally. I check my email one more time. Ditto for Facebook. I wash out my coffee mug. Go to the bathroom. Gather my things and then trudge out the door.

Don't get me wrong; daycare pick up is one of my favorite times of day. But it's also my least favorite part of the day. By the time I walk out of the office and into the open air, I'm usually tired. And cranky. Getting into my car is not what I want to do. Plus, by the time I pull up to the daycare to pick up the Babby, she is usually tired. And cranky. And getting immediately into the car is not what she wants to do.

Sometimes we go to the playground, but now that it's chilly outside the Babby usually just lets me know she'd rather just go home in the whiniest way possible. Once we're there, the whining usually continues and my attempts to engage my otherwise happy and delightful daughter are met with unhappy resistance.

I get it - the Babby needs to unwind as much as I do. But it makes me sad that by the time she does finally cast off the weight of her day - and how it breaks my heart to write that - it's just about time for me to begin making dinner and I'm left guiltily trying to decide between playing mommies or getting a meal on the table before bedtime.

And that is precisely what's on my mind when the clock ticks over and work sets me free. Dinner is looming. The daily diaper vs. underpants issue is looming. The post-pickup tantrum is looming. That, and the memory of slow days of exploration where dinner wasn't even a concern because there was plenty of time to make it. Even to walk to the market for missing ingredients. Thoughts of having the Babby's best hours to myself instead of having to sit sadly by until she decompresses. And selfishly, thoughts of my prior professional autonomy that I stupidly failed to nurture.

Daycare pickup may be my favorite time of day, but ultimately it's a part of the day that is heavily loaded down with baggage. I want to feel butterflies in my tummy when I pull up to daycare and see the Babby run toward the gate. Unfortunately, what I do feel is something more like defeat.


daycare


14 comments:

  1. Your honesty here is refreshing. I used to feel very similar to this when I was working. I desperately wanted to see my girls after work, but what was really on my mind were the overwhelming tasks of getting two babies in the car, out of the car, into the house, and entertained while making dinner. Then came the stress of getting babies to eat solids, all the clean up and baths that come after and then the anxiety of bedtime. I was uptight, because I felt like I didn't get any quality time with my girls and I felt guilty for being relieved that they were in bed and I was free for a little while.

    Not many women, or men, talk about these stresses of working parenthood. Ultimately, though, it is the reason we took the major financial hit so I could stay home with the girls. The stress of a tighter budget was nothing compared to the stress of two working parents and twin toddlers.

    Good luck to you. I hope things get easier for you soon.

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  2. I feel the EXACT same way. I sometimes even purposely work a little later and make my husband leave his (home) office to do the daycare pickup (which he LOVES), even though I drive right past there minutes later on my way home. And then I run errands to delay my arrival home so that the bulk of the crankiness (hers, although also mine) is out of the way, which is usually after my husband feeds her dinner. Which means we don't eat as a family. And the guilt cycle continues . . . .

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    1. I wouldn't feel guilty about that. When my husband gets home from work, he takes on 100% of baby duty until supper time. That gives me an hour and a half or so to cook, clean, blog, take a walk, or whatever, to get a break. He gets the pre-dinner cranky behavior, but he likes it, because it's a change in his day and I get a break from the babes so I can be a little more relaxed at dinner time. However, there are days when I actually call and ask him to come home a little early to give me an extra break. You've got to do what you've got to do.

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  3. Thanks, Sandra! For us, if it was only the stress of a tighter budget, it would be a no brainer. The BabbyDaddy doesn't like a lot of the changes that come with my working any more than I do. But our tight budget only seemed to work until we realized that slowly but surely the money in our accounts was going down down down (and this on an austerity family budget) without there being anything else for us to cut to make it balance out. I'm at work because the ultimate financial hit we'd take if I didn't would result in bankruptcy :(

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    1. That's got to be really hard. I'll keep your family in my prayers. I really am certain that things will get better, one way or another.

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  4. Don't be guilty for taking the option that works for your family, Shawna! If I had the freedom to do what you're doing, I probably would. Even as it is, the BabbyDaddy's schedule means we seldom eat dinner as a family anyway!

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  5. This post was very interesting. My child does not go to daycare, but We are separated for a bit during church on Sundays. I always look forward to picking her up because she is always excited to show me what she did while we were apart. It is always fun. So, I hope one day your experience with daycare can change a bit. The butterfly feeling really is great.

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  6. You just took all the words right out of my mouth. Right now my son is 15 months old and he cries when I leave. Then when I pick him up he is tired and cranky from all the play and whines all the way home and usually even takes a 30 minute nap once we are home. Then it's feed him, bathe him, play with him, and put him to bed. By that time I am crabby and tired on top of any stress from work and from getting the house picked up.
    There is never enough time.
    But yes, I enjoy the look on his face when he sees me and the hug and being able to kiss the cheeks. He's a sweet boy.

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  7. I never really thought of it that way. I'm still at home with the baby for 8 more months, but soon enough I'll be in the same boat.

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  8. There are times in the day too when I need a break and my husband is the best because he never makes that a problem. He'll take over for about half hour-45 mins while I go unwind myself by reading a book or just lying down. I'm also expecting my second baby (still in my first trimester) and I get 'afternoon sickness'. So from lunch time thereafter I'm nauseous and generally tired which leaves me cranky- thankfully I have extra hands to take care of my munchkin when I get overwhelemed in the evenings.
    Generally speaking- I love that you're so honest about the good feelings and not so good ones that go along with being a mom- makes us realize we're not alone and that it's normal to need a break :)

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  9. I both love and loathe the daycare pickup. The anticipation of seeing the boy usually peaks about 30 minutes before I leave work, but as the event draws closer, the reality of what awaits kicks in. It does a lot to temper that joy.

    I've started leaving work a little early on daycare days (just two days a week for us), enough time for me to get 30 minutes at home before picking up the kid--to finish prepping dinner, to pick up a few things, to take a breather as *I* transition from work to home life. It's helped, a lot. My kid is usually one of the last ones picked up, but that 30 minutes has been invaluable.(I know this isn't doable for a lot of people, or everyday, but if you could do it occasionally, I highly recommend it.)

    Oh, and crockpot meals. Daycare days are great for crockpot meals.

    But beyond that, I've tried to take my expectations down. We play after dinner instead of before--that allows us both to decompress while getting the dinner dance done--and I try not to feel guilty about that, figuring that a good hour of play when I can be invested in it is better than when I'm only half there. I try not to take it personally that the decompression time is usually fraught with tantrums and breakdowns (I fail at this a lot). I try to remember that it's an adjustment for us both.

    It's hard. The dance is hard. There's no way around it...

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  10. Sometimes I wish we were neighbors in the real world :) I feel for you! And I appreciate your honesty SO MUCH. I know mine don't go to daycare and I feel very blessed that I can be home all day. My baby hates seeing me in the morning... he cries when the Milk Man hand him over to me because he knows that daddy is leaving and he spends at least half the morning mad at me. If only kids didn't have feelings too, right? :)

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  11. I can totally relate to this post. I'm a working mama, too, and as much as I love to get my child, I have to rush out of the office to pick him up in time, fight traffic, talk to our sitter, get him in the car, fight traffic home, fix dinner, get that quality time in before bedtime, etc. It's exhausting. And on top of being tired from the day! Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

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  12. I am glad you got so much support from other mothers on this very honest post. I think you are well within your rights to feel the way you do...it does not make you any less of a brilliant mother than the next woman. It makes you bloody human. I respect and admire mothers. I tip my hat to you, girl.

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