Giving My Baby to Someone Else to Love

I recently put Phoebe into day care. The emotions connected with this were mixed and ultimately it is the best decision all around.

When Chloe (my 9 year old) was around Phoebe’s age, I was working 50-60 hour work weeks. I can hardly remember what she was like. This has made me sad at times and has made me feel I missed a key element in her developmental process.

The changes that can occur between the ages of 1 and 2 are fascinating to watch. The language development, the sense of humor, new abilities every day. I am Phoebe’s mom. If I am not there guiding her and seeing these changes then why am I her mother? I have a duty to be there for her and guide her through life.

I believe strongly that children need to be around other people and other children. I believe that having time outside of the home interacting with different people is not only healthy, but vital.

I have found too that taking care of a child all day and all night and then all day again and then all week and then all month is not something that makes me happy or makes me feel fully fulfilled. I love to work and have, for myself, the interaction with others outside of the home.

In my recent decision to go back to work full time I weighed all these factors. Ultimately what was the deciding factor was a trial run of how Phoebe would do.

We started her in a small in-home day care. Rosie had been a nanny for 30 years. She watched 5 toddlers with her staff of three out of an old Victorian flat. They fed the kids, put them down for naps, let them play and pretty much represented the polar opposite of high-gloss fancy day care centers who have child development experts on their payroll.

Phoebe loved it. She thrived. She would get excited at drop off at around 8 am and be happy at  the 4-5 pm pick up. She ate, she napped, she played. Her language continued to develop, in fact it advanced at a faster rate.

The first few days were hard on me. I missed her. Deep down I was feeling like my decision may be wrong.

A few days I picked her up later than usual and she seemed off. It stressed her that I was not there at the expected time.

The most surprising thing that happened though was the true and genuine love that developed between Phoebe and her caregivers. But a question arises on that for me. Am I ready for her to receive and give that type of love with people other than her family?

Is there a cap to how much love you can have and if you spread it too thin over too many people will it somehow dry up?

Experience recently has shown me this is not the case. Her capacity for love and affection has in fact tripled and diversified.

Now upon going to bed she insists on hugging and kissing multiple times each member of her family. She has said “I love you”, more times than I can count.

Giving her more people to love has increased her ability to express it.

I still feel the pangs. The draw back into wanting to spend every moment with her, however, I’m finding my time with her now is more wholly devoted to our interaction rather than thinking of all the other things I would like to or should be doing.

I am lucky to be in a position where I have a choice about childcare. Many parents do not have the luxury and make heartbreaking sacrifices regarding the care of their families.

It is true that they are only this age for a short time. I have learned all too well that your loved ones can be ripped from you and leave a hole in your heart filled with regret and longing for the moments lost.

I have also learned that in those awful times the ability to love can see you through.

If I can show my daughters that there are many people who care about them and who they can love in return at least one part of my job as their mother will be fulfilled.


Tell me your childcare stories. Are you a stay at home parent? Working full or part time? How do you do it?

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9 responses

  1. I agree with this 100% and I have complete reality with it too. My daughter is 17 months and goes to daycare 3 days a week so I can work from home. I had mixed feelings because I didn’t want to miss anything – all the changes everyday! But she loves it and I love the time I have to get things done that I would otherwise be stressing about all the time!

  2. I resonate with your post; my son is in daycare two days a week and with a nanny the other 3-4 full or partial days depending on my load that week. It is not a pace I would continue indefinitely, but it has been the best to get me through grad school and my internship…we are done in a week- and we did it. Hard, but we did it- and we are both flourishing. I will keep him in a daycare situation at least two days a week so he can continue to interact and try things we just don’t do at home…the hardest part is finding a place I love and can afford- besides missing him.

  3. My 19 month old has been in daycare 3 days/week since the beginning of the year as I planned to go back to work, but when my job fell through we were left dangling a bit. Places are very hard to get in urban
    Australia and we had to make the decision to keep him in there so I could safely look for other work knowing I had the childcare factor already sorted. Then…I got pregnant gain (surprise!) and once again we’ve had to make some decisions. He loves his centre and the staff but we just can’t afford it now we’re staring down the barrel of another 2 years with only a single income. We are biting the bullet and keeping him on 1 day/week simply because he gets so much out of it. His vocabulary has gone from 2 words to over 100 in 4 months and his social interaction skills have come along so well. As heartbreaking as it can be leaving them there they get so much out of it that your temporary discomfort is worth nothing in the long run.

    It sounds like your family is thriving! Keep up the good work!

  4. Sophia is almost 14 months and I have hardly been away from her at all. I’m going to have to make the daycare decision in the next few months and I’m freaking out. I will start part time as a gradient really more for me then her. She has recently demonstrated just how much she enjoys being around other kids and adults, so I know she will be ok. I would love follow up posts on this subject!

  5. Dear Jen,
    Your amazing! Just thought I would start by that, your girls are happy and as much as you like to talk about your laundry at the end of the day what I am sure the girls care about is not matching socks. I think that’s on trend anyway. Us working moms probably had to do with that… Just saying!!!

    As a full time working mom of 4, with kids ranging 13 year to 21 months old I have a lot I juggle. But I always spend time with each of them everyday and each one of them went to childcare around a year old. I found my children needed a group, and friends outside of home. They all thrived. Arabella (my youngest) started at 11months with a nanny and 14 in full time care in a very nice home daycare, she has been doing well these last 7 months. I found myself making it go more right in life to do things more efficiently and end up most weeks getting it “all” done. But I am pretty sure my laundry piles win.

    Wink wink

    Amy Woods
    Portland, Oregon

  6. Let me just say…. I love your writings about motherhood! They hit home with me and I have so much reality! I really do connect with what you said about being a full time mom taking care of your child all day and all night everyday 24/7 is not something that fulfills you. I too feel this way. I need time to connect with others or even myself…. Have interaction and focus on something other than diapers, feedings, making formula etc. currently I have no way to afford daycare or a nanny and I’m starring at 4 years and 4 months of nonstop mommying as my job until she can go into kindergarten. I wish I could go back to work part time at least. Thanks for writing about these things. Somehow they help me get through my days… I guess just knowing I’m not alone.

    • An idea for you Stephanie is to find a mom you could trade off with even if just for a few hours. Take her kids and switch back. That may break it up a little and it’s free!

  7. I blogged about this very topic last week, not nearly as eloquently as you did. Thank you for your thoughts as I am back to work today after vacation with a sick baby at home. Some days I question my choices but I am happy to know I am not alone.

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