I started the process of researching child care yesterday. Despite being prepared for sticker shock, it was still a strange feeling to be looking into something that costs more than our rent (for full-time care in a center with all the bells and whistles). After calling a lot of places (both centers and private, in-home care), I found some much more affordable prices. But da-yaamn.
With each phone call, I kept thinking, "Yeah, you sound nice and like a person who would take good care of my son. But, dammit, I want to take care of my son. It was a strange see-saw of reassurance and sadness. The thing I have to keep focusing on is that this is temporary. Mark will be done with his PhD within a year or so after Andrew's birth, which means I only have to work and put Drew in day care for no more than a year, year and a half max. And the scenario that seems most likely is that day care will only be necessary for six months.
But still…. For anyone who knew me in high school and undergrad, this probably sounds a wee bit strange. I was all gung-ho, working mother don't bother me a bit, I'm not going to put my career on hold, etc. Then I met Mark and realized what it was like to actually be in love and want to start a family with someone. And I saw more and more what it would be like to raise kids while both parents were in academic research, and I realized that I didn't want what I saw. I wanted to be at home with the kids, with a job that gave me something to do but that didn't absorb my life and keep me out of the house.
I know that I'll have that. I know that working away from home is only a temporary thing, and that Mark and I are going to do everything we can to minimize the time Andrew spends away from us. I also know that there are some women who have no choice but to put their child in daycare full-time for their entire lives. But I can already feel my heart clutching. I can already feel the tears welling up for that day when I have to put the child I haven't even met yet into someone else's arms and say, "Take care of him."