less cash, more kid time

My neighbor fell so deeply in love that she no longer wanted to work – she wanted to spend all day, every day, with the new guy in her life – her baby boy.
This was not what she and her husband had originally planned. They expected her to miss only a couple of months from her job as an engineer. They carefully selected a daytime caregiver and arranged to share night time feedings and diaper duties.

She tried to stick with the original plan. A couple months after her son’s birth, she packed up the diaper bag, strapped the baby into the car seat and took him to the baby-sitter – then cried all the way to work that day and for several afterwards. She wanted to be with her baby.
The next several days, she tried to sort it all out in a modern way of thinking. She reminded herself that she really could have it all: a lovely home, a wonderful husband, a great job and children kept under the watchful eye of carefully selected child care providers.
None of it worked – motherhood had changed her whole outlook on her career and parenthood by proxy.

She told her husband she wanted to stay home with their son. He told her he thought she wanted the worst end of the deal – but he agreed. So, she set aside her engineering degree for baby talk, diapers, toys and hours on end with the scrap of humanity who had captured her heart, mind and soul.

The intensity hit my son’s wife much sooner. After they married, she took a few classes, tried out a few jobs, volunteered a bit, but nothing caught her attention. During her pregnancy we talked about many things in the unknown territory ahead of her. The day after the little one arrived she announced, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life” and she has pursued it avidly ever since then.

Last summer, I saw that all encompassing look on the face of the mother of a two-month old babe. She allowed a friend to hold her son – but she never quit holding him with her eyes and her loving smile as he fell asleep in the other woman’s arms.

Another neighbor and her husband had planned to attend an evening concert with hard-to-get tickets the day the adoption agency placed a child in her home. They gave the tickets away and plunged into their new life with a baby. Their son was old enough to enjoy the concert the next time they bought tickets.
Before her first child arrived, my daughter weighed all the time she spent as a teacher grading papers and preparing lesson plans against time with her first baby. The work of teaching continues long after she returns home. She knew she could not do it. She expected things to change in her life, but reality quickly revealed the round the clock time demands of a newborn.

Since the baby arrived last fall she has made many adjustments to what she calls “the new norm” –  everything filters through her new priorities. She weighs invitations to parties with single friends against her family’s needs. She rejects the temptation of new purchases that would compromise a budget that allows her to be a stay-at-home mom. The new norm has been a major investment but she enjoys the returns daily in the goofy grins and giggles of one lovable little guy.