The Day my Daughter No Longer Needed Me
Guest post by Shauna Armitage:
After seven years and two kids, I finally started to find my groove as an adult. Hubby and I had a house, I felt like I knew what I was doing as a parent, and I even got a solid job. Like, a big girl job. It only took 27 years.
The job went from part time to full time fast, and I couldn’t handle staying home with the one-year-old and picking up the extra hours. This kid didn’t sit still and play like her older brother did. She climbed up the stairs, pulled food out of the pantry, and screamed for my attention.
The work-at-home-mom thing I had spent years perfecting now seemed like a silly fantasy.
The choice was this: put food on the table or give the baby the attention she deserved. It was a conundrum. My husband suggested we hire a mother’s helper, and I was incredibly relieved.
Then I was scared. The idea of another person taking care of my baby was terrifying even though I would be in the house the whole time. We interviewed a few people and found a woman that we really liked and she started straight away.
I planned to keep an eye on her for a while. I did. It was probably pretty creepy. We both started to adjust, though. She accepted my crazy and my daughter accepted her. Before long, I was comfortable with her taking the baby for walks to the park and started to rely on her for more and more hours so I could successfully manage my work schedule.
As that schedule got busier and busier, I saw the baby less and less. I could hear her cackling with delight upstairs while I took client calls, and I heard her desperately telling the mother’s helper when she needed a snack. I heard her babble as her communication skills began to grow, and I heard her trying her best to assist the mother’s helper with chores.
I felt guilty for not being there. I missed her devilish little smile. On a break between calls one day I went up to her room for a quick snuggle; she closed the door in my face.
My heart fell into my toes at that moment. I wanted to be there for everything, but I simply couldn’t balance it all. After I caught my breath, however, I realized I was looking at the situation the wrong way.
My baby girl was having fun. She enjoyed the time she spent with the mother’s helper. She didn’t feel any anxiety when I wasn’t in the room. She went straight to her, no tears or fighting. She felt happy and loved — exactly how I wanted her to be feeling. I didn’t want every separation to be a fight and days filled with thoughts of her distress. What on earth was I upset about?
I’m always going to be her mom. I’m always going to be the one who comforts her when she’s sick, and I’ll always be the one who makes animal noises that make her giggle when she’s happy. Someday I’ll even be the one that she reaches out to when she needs help or a confidant.
Having another adult in her life who makes her feel safe and happy is the best gift that I could give her while I work to support our family and my dreams. Her love for her caregiver doesn’t in any way take away the love she feels for me.
Now she’s got two fabulous women in her life, and I have the help I need to be a more successful person. I’ll take all the help I can get; the terrible twos are just around the corner.
Shauna Armitage blogs about the beautiful disasters that make up modern parenting over at The Violet Moon. In addition to being a workaholic, she’s the mother of three crazy kids who completely rock her world. Most days, she can be found with a glass of pinot noir, in front of the computer, making lists, with Peg + Cat playing in the background. Connect with her on Facebook.
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