It happened rather unexpectedly. The manager of the Occupational Therapy Services at the hospital where I work called today. She assumed that while I am not coming back to work before my one year is up, I would be back on the 18th of February 2009. Crikey. I tried to find a nice way to say that this not a foregone conclusion. Now I am doing my own head in as I try to rationalize why I am making this choice to say that I am taking more than one year.
I know that I am not going back. I am just in a bit of a mess as I contemplate saying it in a unequivocal way, a way that will leave me without a guaranteed job and essentially unemployed.
What does that say about me? I immediately started to think of study options and making this time count. But why can’t it count that I am being a mother? I know better than to tie myself up in knots at wasting my life and getting trapped into a situation where I loose my work skills and kiss my career good bye. I know this is not true. It does not have to be true.
I have been thinking about my values and how I know I would suffer leaving my child in the care of a paid someone. I would be worrying all the time that his needs are not being met. And I feel like a bit of a sissy for worrying. But DS doesn’t even speak – how the hell would I know if something were not OK? I feel like I am being made into some sort of freak for being OK with being at home with my child…. I am asked to think of offering even 2 -3 days a week instead of the full 5 day week. Something, anything. And I can’t.
This I think is the bottom line. I can not. There is just no way that I could put my child in the care of a stranger, however warmly recommended. I rationalize this by saying that no one else will take the time to cook DS organic fresh food. No one else will be bothered to use cloth diapers. No one else will ensure that he is not eating deep fried peanuts and chocolate millk (firm favorites for infants where I live). No one else will snuggle up to him when that is what he wants. No one else will take the time to accompany him on his journey of discovery of the world – there is far too much pushing the world onto little children in the hope that they will catch on faster. And I specifically do not want this. I feel myself (rightly or wrongly) the guardian of my child’s childhood.
I am getting messages, even from my parents, that I need to let go. I cannot protect my son from everything (this was in response to me saying that I am not sure I want to use teething gel with sweeteners in it). But when he is so little and there is so much going on in his body as it grows and develops, I do want to protect him. I have in my hands (and in my heart) the beginnings of a whole human life. How can I be flippant with that? How can I not take that seriously?
My common sense tells me that I will have to let go at some point. But I am not sure now is the time. Just like I have chosen to take my cue from my child as when to feed, sleep and cuddle, I would like to be able to take my cue from him as to when he will be comfortable without me near his side. I do not see the merits of stressing either of us out. I am hoping that the world will be kind and not punish me for taking the time to care for my child in is infancy.