So now that I’m overly employed, I need childcare.
Cue the anxiety.
When I tell you that I went back to work 10 days after giving birth to my son—very prematurely, very traumatically—it’s not because I want you to feel bad for me or believe I have some indefatigable work ethic. I was near-certifiable for going back so soon. I know this now. My body, let alone my mind, had not even begun to recover. But the circumstances of my son’s birth were extraordinary, and I learned then that I am someone who needs even a facade of normalcy to cope with the stress of extreme abnormality. So I went back to work. I worked for nearly the entire 87 days Jax was in the NICU, and it wasn’t heroic; it was survival. I took six weeks of leave when he was discharged, but other than that, until earlier this year when life (along with my previous childcare arrangements) changed overnight, I’ve always been a working mom. I’m proud of my ability to take care of us by doing something I love.
So why, after only six short months at home with my boy, am I so anxious about going back to work?
Let me backtrack. I’m not anxious about working. I love working. I’ve been going a little stir-crazy, staying home all day, pointing at the same picture of the same penguin in the same book on a continuous daily loop.
But who else should be doing this? Who else is going to care so much that Jax is, like, a day away from saying “penguin,” and have the patience to keep pointing to that picture until he does?
The answer is, plenty of people. There are some incredible childcare providers out there. I just need to find them, preferably within a 15-minute radius of my house and new place of employment.
See, I’m new here. Which is technically a lie because I grew up here, in central Pennsylvania, but I haven’t lived here as an adult. I moved back to where my family lives for solace and support after life wasn’t so great for a while. Now, in order to rebuild my (single) writing mom life, I have to branch out a bit for that support if I’m going to finally cope the way I know how to cope. I have to find someone I trust with my very reason for what I’m rebuilding.
These are not unique anxieties, but they’ve been weighing on me.
Maybe I should go back to baking for a few days.
Can I also tell you that I’m a little afraid of Jax being shunned for being small? He’s smart as the day is penguin-filled and long, and superlatively adorable, but at just over two years old, there’s no denying he looks closer to 18 months. Are kids as mean as they were when I was growing up? Will even nursery school teachers treat him like he’s younger than he is, not challenge him or see the other ways he excels? Like his ability to find that penguin book no matter where I sometimes hide it, just for a few hours?
They will if I find the right place for him. Cue the anxiety all over again.