Our new Janey is so sweet and I adore her. She is 8 weeks old today. I have been thinking so much how grateful I am to spend every day, all of my hours with her. I couldn’t live otherwise, honestly. Thinking of anyone else taking care of her makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe I’m crazy, but that is how I feel, how I felt with each of my babies. She knows me-Jeff told me the other day when he was holding her that when I walked in the room and she heard my voice, her eyes looked for me.
And she has so many little intricacies. I know how many burps she needs to get out after each feeding. And I know if she doesn’t meet her quota she is not a happy camper. I know she likes to be very warm. And she takes a looong time to eat. She goes through diapers like nobody’s business. I know when she is fussy she likes to be swaddled and placed in the sling and patted on the back gently while I dance around the kitchen with nice music on, or bounce on the exercise ball in a dark room. It is sometimes hard work but I would do anything for her.
I’ve received so many emails from new moms over the years that felt torn between staying home with their babies and going back to work. I know that some mothers don’t have a choice, and my heart breaks for you, but some do and feel incredible pressure from friends, and family and sometimes husbands to go back to work and leave their baby with someone else. It seems like they hear the message again and again that they will waste their degree, or slip off that stupid ladder, or regret it one day. Or maybe there is a little fear to lose income and see friends buy that house or new clothes or take nice vacations, or just have a feeling of more security. And then the reassurance that everyone does it and things will be OK, and it’s just what happens nowadays.
I want to offer some encouragement, a different rarely heard message, from my heart.
LISTEN to your heart. If there is ever ever a time in your life to listen to your heart and tell your head to just shut up, now is the time. Let your heart lead and your head will find a way to follow. If there is ever a time to trust your gut, your mommy gut, be brave and trust it fully. Your baby wants YOU, and needs YOU, and adores YOU. NO ONE can do a better job than YOU. Yes, the job can be done by others, but you do the best job ever because you know your baby better than anyone else.
Babies are precious, sweet, innocent, intricate little miracles. I just can’t imagine anyone else taking the time to learn Janey-it’s taken me 8 whole weeks and we are finally getting our groove on. Would anyone else bounce her on the exercise ball when she’s fussy or would she just learn to cry it out? (My mom tried to bounce her once and joked that she thought I would find them both splayed on the floor.) Would any one stand next to her changing table for ten somewhat boring minutes several times a day to let her bottom air out, just so her super-sensitive skin won’t get rashy? Would anyone else wear a sling for 6 hours a day just to get her to sleep? I know there are high-maintenance babies and easy babies-I’ve had them both, but they all took sacrifice and endurance to care for every day and that takes love only a mother can give.
The bond between mother and baby deserves so much more respect than what society throws its way.
So “waste” that degree. It’s not more important than your baby, it’s just a piece of paper, and you aren’t wasting it really. (You might still be paying for it..I was for about 10 years after I had my first.) Tell your husband you can’t do it-your heart will break and you have to figure out something else, even if that means a drastic change for him and your budget and your plans. What else is worth a drastic change? I really believe that often that change and the pressure leads to better situations in the long run anyways. There will be nothing more important in your life ever, ever, ever than your babies. Tell your friends, your relatives, your co-workers that you can’t leave your baby and don’t apologize for it, just say it quietly and with conviction.
And then go and rock your baby. You’ll never ever regret it.