From the very beginning we decided that I was going to be "stay at home" mom (I really hate that label). We made this decision because we can live comfortably (well, comfortably enough to pay the bills every month) on my partner's salary and we figured no one could love and care for our child more than one of us. I thought I would be able to occupy, delight and educate my child all on my own. I figured I am smart enough to learn about child development and find opportunities for him to interact with other kids. Well, I am smart enough, but its harder than you think if you don't want to spend thousands on classes or drive yourself crazy coming up with activities.
I have expended considerable energy maintaining a healthy social circle for both myself and my child (who we will call O). I organize a fairly large meet up group for new parents, attended a breastfeeding support group regularly for over a year, and frequent library story times at a couple libraries. If anyone is tapped into what's out there, its me. But there's something missing in all these unstructured, yet scheduled play times and activities: time apart.
I love my son. He's a delightful, smart, amusing little person. He loves me. We get along well together and have few disagreements or unpleasant days. However, I know he needs to interact and bond with people other than me and his father. Time spent learning and negotiating with other children would be a real boost to O's development both socially and intellectually. O is a late talker, at least to my amateur opinion. But otherwise he appears to be on track developmentally for 20 months. We believe being around other children will help him with his language acquisition and use.
So we are thinking a pre-school or daycare setting would be just what we need. A few hours a couple times a week could provide the right amount of peer-play and time separate from the parents to spark O's independence and social awareness. We want something play-based, friendly, inexpensive, and with a diverse peer group. Having only started to look at the options, I am thinking that we may never find the perfect place in our immediate area. I have also realized that no matter how much part of me really wants a morning or two free to pursue other interests, work, a shower, whatever; another part of me doesn't believe that anyone else can provide him with the right care. Of course, no one else is O's mother; no one else will love him like I do. But certainly there are caring and capable adults out there who can read him books, play with him, teach him, care for him, inspire him, etc. We just have to find one or more of them.
We are not paranoid parents. We do not believe the internet is a den of pedophiles or that an unwashed and unsanitized hand will lead to the Plague. However, we are reluctant about child care outside our home. I have rationalized in the last few days that I can provide O with all the right social and learning opportunities, if I just apply myself. I do believe I can, but really do I want to? Do I want to be a toddler's cruise director of life full time for the next few years? Ah, no.
So I am back where I started. I might be enough for O, but this gig may not be enough for me...or more correctly, too much for me. I do want to be a "SAHM", but one with at least one mini-vacation a week. A working vacation maybe, but a vacation nonetheless.
Am I alone in this?