In 43 days, my life is going to completely change.
For the past six years and five days, I have given myself over to my daughter’s care. As a work-at-home writer, I’ve been lucky to have the best of both worlds. I’ve been able to be at home with her, drive her to and from school, sneak off to the beach for the day, host playdates, be at every doctor’s appointment (and there have been a lot), bake cookies, take her to story time at the library, volunteer in her classroom, and make her breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day. I’ve been able to do all this without giving up my career. I couldn’t afford not to work, but I wouldn’t have wanted to stop working anyhow.
I also couldn’t afford to put her in daycare, both from a financial perspective and a caring perspective, especially considering how much time we spent shuttling her back and forth to Boston Children’s Hospital during the first year of her life.
“It’s so short,” I remember my mom telling me when Chloe was a baby. There are only a few, short years between birth and full-time school. It’s such a small amount of time to give your child. A relatively small investment for an incredibly big return. I’m glad I was in such a position to give her those years. More than glad. I can’t describe what it’s meant to me, and I hope, to her, too.
And yet it hasn’t been easy or smooth. I might not have given up my career, but it certainly hasn’t come first. I’ve worked the equivalent of part-time for six years, squeezing in writing when I could, first during naps, then during the handful of hours she was in morning preschool and kindergarten. I'm in front of my laptop at 5:00 am and, too often, at midnight. I had help, thank God, a couple days a week, but I never had enough time to really work on my career, to do anything other than feel like I was just hanging on.
And in the summer? Things are even harder without those 2.5 hours of morning kindergarten. On busy summer days (like today) when I’m cramming to meet a deadline and don’t have childcare, Chloe will sit in front of the TV for hours while I crank out my work, always with the promise that we’ll do something fun when I’m finished. And we will—we’re going swimming later today—but still, there are summer days when Chloe is a straight-up couch potato, when I throw food at her and don’t even get her dressed or brush her teeth until I can come up for air.
“I hate Mondays!” she just told me, after I explained that I had too much work to play Hungry Hungry Hippos with her.
So as much as I have cherished these years with her, I know that this special time at home with my baby is coming to its needed end. Because she’s not a baby anymore. And I need to get back to me a little more, too. It’ll be better for both of us, I know this. I won’t have to neglect her for hours at a time or neglect my work, either. I can give 100% to each, and be all hers, totally hers, after school.
No more missed work deadlines and no more “I’m almost done!” promises when she begs to play with me. I will be able to ramp up my career in new ways, and I will give myself to her, every afternoon, maybe even more fully than I’ve been able to before.
I don’t want to wish this time away. The summer is already flying by. My time with her feels like it’s slipping out of my hands like water. And yet, I am excited for a new beginning.
Only 43 days left!
I only have 43 days left.