I thought about writing out a bunch of resolutions for 2006 today. However, I haven’t really thought of any yet. Resolutions generally come to me close to midnight on New Year’s Eve, after a drink or two. Which, of course, makes me oh so likely to keep them.
Instead, I thought I’d look back on the year that was 2005 for me. It was a year of tremendous change, some hard decisions, and a little hardship. But it was also a year of tremendous growth, joy, and love. This may be a bit boring for many to read, but I feel the need to recap 2005. And it’s my blog, so I can write what I want. Nyah.
I started off 2005 in turmoil. Cordelia was three months old, and I was an exhausted, emotional wreck thanks to the double whammy of postpartum depression and a baby with colic. To make matters worse, on the first work day of the new year I was expected to be back in the office for work.
Now, I had worked from home as a telecommuter for my company for over 4 years. One of the reasons Aaron and I decided to have Cordy when we did was because we knew I could stay home with her while still working full time. Funny how things can change. While I was on maternity leave, the company abruptly laid off 20 people, and decided to end all telecommuting. This forced several people to quit, but we couldn’t live on one income alone, so back into the office I had to go.
With only a month to find daycare for a three month old (ranks right up there with trying to find a hamburger in a Hindu temple or a babysitter on New Year’s Eve), we thought all hope was lost. A small miracle came in the form of Aaron’s aunt, who was the director of the daycare for the Columbus Jewish Center. Even though there was a waiting list, she pulled a few strings and got Cordy in. So the first week of January, I went back to cubicle life, and Cordy started at daycare. I cried most of that week.
Oh, and to add more insult to injury, I was denied the private room for pumping that I had been promised before I came back. On my first day back, I asked my manager where the private room had been set up. He told me, “Oh, we didn’t do it. You can just use the bathroom.” Heh. I could use the grimy single stall bathroom to pump for 30 minutes, thereby locking out every other woman on the second floor. Pissed off doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.
I had made an effort to be positive about coming back into the office, but it wasn’t working. I hated being there for 8 hours a day, knowing I could do my work in under 5 and then be out doing something else if I was at home. I also missed Cordelia so much. I saw her for a half hour in the morning, then after picking her up from daycare, I’d see her another hour or so before she went to bed. The lack of pumping and fewer nursing sessions caused me to dry up as well. I felt like I wasn’t living – I was just going through the motions of life. And this little baby was more and more a stranger to me.
Cordy’s colic had subsided, but she was a very poor napper, especially at daycare. While they were always extremely nice to her, I could tell that her cranky attitude and poor sleep skills were not winning friends. Every day’s verbal report would start with, “She only napped [some terribly small amount] minutes today,” spoken by an exasperated caregiver. While they always said she had a great day, Aaron and I could tell in their voices that she was a real pain in the butt. That’s our little girl.
I was done going through the motions. Cordy was beginning to sit up on her own now, and as she accomplished new tasks, I found myself needing to be with her more each day. I was determined to get to know my daughter again!
Aaron and I talked it over, and I started applying for other jobs. I had a great lead on a contractor position for another e-learning company, and the first interview went great!
I interviewed for a part-time position for a local university as a student advisor. With my background, I was a good fit, and I was offered the job. But giving up my full time salary (which was more than double this part-time job, and which was also more than Aaron’s salary) was a difficult decision. However, the other e-learning company had promised me work, so we thought I’d be able to do contract work from home to supplement the income. I accepted the university position, and started my training in mid-May.
Cordy was still in daycare until I could finish my training. I was waiting to hear back on my first project for the e-learning company. I waited. And waited. And waited. I sent an e-mail, and the owner told me he was just waiting for the project to be finalized. I waited some more. I e-mailed again, and he said they were still working out the details. I e-mailed one more time, offering to work on a different project. This time I got no response.
It seems I had been dropped, without the decency of telling me they didn’t need me. Damn! I knew I should have asked for something in writing. Now there was no extra work, and the paychecks were already getting slim. Things between Aaron and I were fairly tense, because all of my assurances that the financial situation would change little had proven to be wrong. I had given up our financial security that we had worked so hard towards for the past year.
The second day of July, Cordy crawled for the first time! I was so excited and happy that she chose to save that special event for me and not daycare. Also, by the end of the month, my training was complete, and we were able to take Cordy out of daycare. Things were really looking up!
We celebrated Cordy’s first birthday was a great party. Lots of family and friends, the requisite cake all over the face shot, etc. My job was challenging enough to keep me happy, and working 24 hours a week gave me so much more time with Cordy.
I had been working 4 days a week (two 8-hour days, two 4-hour days), but with the price of gas being so high, I hated making the drive that many days a week. I spoke with my supervisor, and asked if I could switch to three 8-hour days. He did a little checking into it, and approved my request! Once again, I realized how much I loved my new job. I had a supervisor who actually cared about my work-life balance.
During this month I was also hit with a huge bout of mommy-brain. Somehow, I forgot to pay nearly an entire month’s worth of bills. I honestly have no idea how it escaped me, since I am usually very money smart. We were hit with a few late fees, but I did eventually get everything straightened out.
We had a crazy holiday marathon with three days of visiting family and celebrating. Cordy also started walking on her own this month! Her vocabulary is also growing at a rapid pace of about one new word a week. As a family, we are so happy together.
I’m amazed all of this happened in just one year. At the start of the year, we were tired fledgling parents, frazzled yet financially doing well. Now we feel more confident in our roles as Cordy’s parents, and a routine has been established. We’re barely squeaking by now financially, but the change has given us so much more.
Since Cordy left daycare, she’s only been sick twice, as compared to the near-continuous cold she had the entire time she was in daycare. She’s happier now, I think, and she appears to feel more secure. She sees so much more of us – since I work different hours than Aaron, he and Cordy have their bedtime routine established now. It’s adorable. And I have the time to take Cordy to the zoo, to the children’s museum, and lots of other places.
I am in no way saying daycare is horrible. Long ago I worked in daycare, and I really enjoyed my time there. I am grateful for those who cared for Cordy, and I have no doubt that she enjoyed her time there. But now I am a little closer to what I had intended when I was pregnant with Cordelia. I only wish I could have had a more family-friendly employer to avoid all of this.
And my God it’s harder, too. I will happily stand up and salute those parents who stay home with their kids. On my days off, I occasionally wonder why I decided to put myself through so much work as I chase Cordy around the house, trying to clean her messy hands before she puts them on every surface available at her height.
But then she’ll walk up to me, place her little sticky hands on each side of my face, give a wide grin and say “Hi!”in her little happy voice before collapsing into me for a hug. At that point I know everything was worth it this year.