With a two-month-old baby at home, getting ready for work has become an entirely new 'event' in our house. My wife and I are fortunate enough to have multiple bathrooms, yet, since we've been unable to clone ourselves, we're still struggling to make it out the door on time. This being my wife's second week back to work, we have seen an improvement in our overall performance, but I'm certain that our up-to-exit time won't decrease by much, as we both wish we could stay home and spend all our time with Zoe. Especially now that she's beginning to master the art of noise. Cooing I should say.
Her mouth agape with a grand smile, her tongue wagging from top to bottom - side to side - Zoe, with just one tiny peep, brings a great deal of joy to our lives. She smiles and gurgles, quite tickled at the sound of her own voice, or possibly the ridiculous round of cheers it commands from her doting parents. Sometimes it feels like she purposely pours it on just before I load her into my wife's Explorer on her way to daycare. As they drive away, I'm left with an empty feeling and a longing for some giant of an idea that might just make it possible for the two of us to stay home. Or at least one of us. That would be just as well.
I know millions of families are faced with this same dilemma. It takes both parents to pay the mortgage and bills and car payments, not to mention groceries and little outfits for morning, noon and night. The economy thrives while the family suffers. Right now Zoe stays with my sister's Nanny who's been with the family for 6 years. It's a great comfort that she does not have to stay with a stranger. And by August she's going to begin attending an incredible daycare that's run in a very large and beautiful home by four caring women who have developed an amazing program for infants and toddlers through the age of three and a half. Every parent should be so lucky to have such an opportunity. I know my daughter will develop wonderfully in this program. But it will never get easy to take leave in the morning. Especially during these first few years.
These are the years when Zoe, like most children, will thrive. She's learning and changing every day. During this first year she'll learn to sit up, crawl and then walk. As I mentioned before, she's starting to coo, and it won't be too long before she utters her first simple words. And who knows how much more. The hard part for me is the probability that I'll be the third, fourth or fifth person to know when it happens. Any and all of it. And that weighs heavily on both me and my wife. There are those who would say you can make changes and have one parent at home if you really want. And I'll be the first to say that Zoe is far more important than any job could ever be. However, I want the best for her. I don't want to move her into an apartment or smaller home. We've got a nice house in a good neighborhood that, for the time being, is perfect for all her needs. Then there are trips to Europe and her first bicycle and a million other things I want for her. None of these 'things' are as important as our love, but simply byproduct of it. Not everything I want for Zoe is a tangible good either. But I love toys and trinkets and traveling - just so long as we all share in these things together. That's what's most important.
Additionally, I hope to be able to afford private school for Zoe. I fought my parents tooth and nail to go to public schools. But they insisted I stay in private, and I couldn't be more grateful now. In college I felt I had an unfair head start over many of my friends who went to public schools. Smaller classes and teachers who really care. I'm not saying you can't find that in public schools. But I know first hand how she'll benefit in a private institution.
But all of this costs money. Lots of money. And neither my wife nor I can swing it alone. From a logical standpoint, it all makes sense for the family. We have begrudgingly agreed on this. Only, Zoe doesn't understand logic yet. She just knows when she's happy and when she's not. She's a real sport, happy to accompany us wherever it is we might be going - especially during those weekends that are chock-full of events, doings and random running about. And I can't imagine doing any of it without her. She is the single most important thing in the world to us.
Thus I go to my job as a Senior Copywriter in an advertising agency - a job I truly love - every day and I create. I concept. I solve problems, and I write. That's what I'm paid to do. But more and more I find myself writing and thinking of Zoe, and my wife, and all the things I wish we could be doing together. I write letters and notes and articles like this in hopes that one day Zoe will believe me when I tell her just how hard it was to leave each morning. I write because I hope one day she'll know and believe that even when we're not their, her mother and father are thinking about her and can't wait until we're back together again. I write because I love my daughter so very, very much.
If there is a parent out there who has somehow stumbled upon the secret to working around this issue - or even just someone who's found a pretty darn good way - please send word to the rest of us. Zoe and I thank you in advance.
Exploring Working at HomeBalanced Woman
Scott Collin is a 29-year-old Senior Copywriter at an advertising agency in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. Besides that, he says "I'm the most optimistic pessimist anyone has ever known." firstname.lastname@example.org
Missing ZoeMissing Zoe