Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Biology, Baby's Cry, and The Working Mother

I just figured out why it's so hard to leave your baby at daycare, besides the not wanting to be away from them. Their face when you leave them, the hysterical sobbing- the baby is saying, "Mom, don't leave me! I'm scared! I'm in danger! I want to be with you!" As a mom, you are programmed to listen to your baby. The baby is programmed to want to be near you for safety- and that's how Moms work too. If they are with you, you know they're safe. The separation brings up an anxiety in both baby and mom.

The mother, the adult, know it's in her baby's best long term interest to be left at daycare, in my case, financial health and security in a tough economy. So, the mother has to ignore her instincts to soothe her baby and walk away. And that is really really hard. It's very upsetting to know that my baby knows that I know he's upset, and that I'm leaving him anyway.

Maybe dads feel this way too; I work mostly with mothers because I'm a teacher. I'd heard about how it's hard to leave them, and I'm sure this is exactly what they meant.

Although I will say, after I drive away, I feel a good ten minutes of euphoria at getting to be alone and let my thoughts wander, and make phone calls to friends and family, and run errands without dragging the baby out of the car in the January cold. The constant feeling of attachment to the baby CAN be tiring, so I do understand the wide range of how mothers feel: some cannot bear to leave baby so quit their job, finances be damned- some stop work temporarily or find a less demanding one- and some really don't enjoy being home all day with kids, and are delighted to get back to the adult world. I understand all of that.

Off to playgroup!


thevervepath said...

I totally understand too and my feelings change on a daily basis. I was so lucky to have a family member watch M for the first 3.5 years when I was at work. He just started preschool/daycare 2 days per week and, overall, has enjoyed it. There are still tough days though and they rip my heart out. But I also have a hard time seeing myself home alone with a baby/toddler full time... Somehow it all worked out perfectly the first time around.

Jordy said...

I'm so lucky that I went back to work when Bebo was 12 weeks old and we had a few 'playdates' at daycare with me there before I left him. My daycare provider is the most amazing woman and I couldn't have done it without her! Bebo never cried and doesn't. He loves seeing Ms. Sue, and he's only there part time though.

Laura said...

Dads definitely do too. My hubby drops our son off & picks him up (I have a long commute, so this means a shorter day for our son). This morning I got this email (edited only for name): "D* cried as I left.  Oh it is hard to leave then."

KOR said...

Your comments remind me that the only reason I feel OK doing this is that I know so many other parents do it, and that all the feelings I feel are normal. If I thought I was the only one whose heart hurt, it would be impossible! As I drive away, I remind myself of all the other people who have gone through this hard transition. It sucks but it something a lot of us have to do or want to do.
We did little playdates there too, and my husband will also do dropoff to make the baby's day shorter bc I have to be there so painfully early as a teacher!

Carolie said...

K- I can assure you that although it may not get 100% easier you will see how Q will develop his "friendships" and get to love his care takers. I dropped Gaby off this AM to see her crawl off and play with an older boy (He is about a year and a half) and she was so happy... it makes me feel better..

Hang in there!