Breaking Daily Bond With Daughter Is Tough On Mother

LIGHTS ON

Return To Work For Financial Reasons Carries A Price Of Its Own

January 19, 1992|By Anne Haddad

With respect, Taneytown, I was getting a bit impatient with your City Council Monday for spending so much time considering how to inspect400 manholes.

I wanted to be home nursing my 5-month-old daughterto sleep. It was the first night of her life that I couldn't do that. I finally got home at 11 p.m. As expected, Daisy had been cranky, waking and crying often, and wouldn't take much from her bottle, my husband, Chris, reported.

"She keeps saying 'mama,' " he said.

I knew that she wasn't somuch calling for me as making her typical teething-pain sound -- more like "mum-mum-mum- mum." But it still got to me.

She was fussingagain before I even got my coat off. I went up, still in my work clothes, and took her out of her crib.

She gave me one of those groggy smiles that make her pacifier fall right out of her mouth. I held her close.

Everyone told me that my going back to work would be harder on me than on her. They were right. The occasional night meeting I cover will probably be rough for her, because she doesn't like deviations in her bedtime nursing routine.

But she has adapted well today care. We are fortunate: She is with a woman we know and trust; we can afford good care; and I often can nurse and visit with her at noon.

Take away any one of those, and the stress would increase, probably to the detriment of my job and my baby. The sad thing is, I know countless families do not have good, affordable care, or they're at the mercy of unsympathetic employers.

I take comfort when I see Daisy smile at her sitter and her 1-year-old daughter. The babies aregoing to be great pals. The 1-year-old already says my daughter's name, and grins every morning when we walk in.

There will be days, Iknow, when Daisy will cry as I drop her off.

While I never planned to abandon my career, money was the biggest factor dictating when Iwould return to work after Daisy's birth. I felt lucky to get five months.

My friend in Massachusetts returned after eight weeks, but said she needed to. Her baby was very active and slept little during the day. Day care gave her a break from the stress of being at home with a demanding baby, she said.

I understand that. There were daysduring Daisy's first three months that I almost longed to go back towork because I felt like writing was at least something I was good at. I had a lot of experience in journalism, but little had prepared me for the art of parenthood.

Now, I miss her company. I even took her to movies with me. She slept through "Cape Fear."

She's more delightful daily. But now that she's started giggling and "talking," Chris and I have to spend all day away from her.

Nights after work are an intense time of hugging, cuddling and serenading. I sit on thecouch, stand her up on her feet facing me and sing to her as we gazeinto each other's eyes. She looks and listens to me as if I were a beautiful, enchanting diva. Her bright-eyed look seems to say, "How doyou make such a beautiful sound?"

I know I'm off-key and the words are either simple children's songs or improvised lyrics. But she doesn't know any better.

Despite the cliche, there is such a thing as quality time. By continuing to work full time, we are not neglecting our daughter. We still find time to see friends on weekends and to spend time together as a family.

We are, however, neglecting the television, and that feels good.

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