Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What about when Daddy cries?

So, if you've read my previous post today, then you know I was doing okay this morning. Well, it all changed when Daddy cried (my husband, that is). First, you should understand that my husband is a big man, former Marine, extremely happy to be back to work on his dissertation, and generally not an emotional "softy." After visiting the baby at daycare today, however, he broke down in tears in my office. The baby wasn't hurt. She wasn't crying when he left her. There was no immediate emergency or danger. She was simply sitting in the swing, looking out into space. This was the problem.

My husband explained that seeing the baby sitting in the swing just staring off to the side reminded him of an old person in a nursing home, just rocking away in a rocking chair, unaware of their own situation (lonely, stuck, away from family). Yesterday hadn't been a problem for him because when he visited the baby someone was holding her when he walked in and someone was holding her when he walked out. Today, however, he realized one of the hardest things: our baby can't be held all the time at daycare. Moreover, I think he realized that she's not going to get the near constant stimulation that we offer her when she's awake at home. For him, the time she spent in that swing without someone talking to her, cooing at her, trying to get her to smile or coo back was precious, and that time will be lost each day she's at daycare.

Seeing my husband cry broke my heart and I broke down all over again. Not quite as bad as yesterday, because I felt like I had to be the strong one this time. I reminded him that it would get better as she gets older and that he'll be staying home with both girls this summer (since he's not funded by his dept. in the summer). But for the first time since I've known this man, he mentioned quitting his PhD and getting a "real" job! The only thing that stopped his train of thought was the fact that it wouldn't change the situation: baby would still need daycare.

My co-worker, who's also kind of my boss, came in shortly after and saw I was clearly in distress. We talked about what the problem was, and despite not being a "kid person" of any kind, she suggested that I talk with the director of the office about bringing baby to work or doing some/most of my work from home (or a combination of the two). I'm only funded to work 15 hours, so this is actually quite feasible. What's interesting is the fact that I never expected my trauma (and it absolutely is a trauma) to be a Daddy problem too. I'm glad it is, don't get me wrong. And it should be more often. But all the things that my great friends said to me yesterday - the things that made me feel better - didn't necessarily work with my husband. As a father, he didn't necessarily feel any better at all, which makes me wonder if there are any resources that put dads in touch with each other about this kind of issue. Needless to say, we're absolutely considering the work-from-home option for me, at least for this semester. It won't completely solve the problem, but it's the best we can do for now.


M said...

We've actually managed to find a daycare that we're comfortable with and that will take S part-time until sometime this summer, so let me know if you want the information.

Sarah said...

This is, of course, a very personal decision, but research indicates that children who are in daycare at very young ages show no real differences compared to children who are not. I can give you a book on the subject if you'd like to read it. As for stimulation, she will likely get lots of stimulation at the daycare and will need to have some down time. Rebekah was in daycare as a baby, and she talked very young and is advanced in a lot of ways, and she's happy, social, and affectionate, too. We actually feel like daycare has been beneficial to her. Working from home sometimes sounds like the perfect answer, but it doesn't work out for everyone. Your family's situation is different from mine, but I had trouble working even when Rebekah was in half-time daycare. I was unhappy and stressed out pretty much all the time. I'm not suggesting that you should do things the way I did--just offering my own experience.

Anonymous said...

I have to second what sarah has said -- including about what a personal and individual decision this is. It's about what makes the whole family happy -- or at least as happy as possible. You can't spend all the time your kid is in daycare -- or all the time you're trying to work AND care for the kid -- second-guessing your choice.

For what it's worth, my older daughter spent a good bit of time sitting in a swing and watching the other kids when she was that tiny -- but the watershed moment for me was, when she was about 14 weeks old, I could see her staring intently at the little 5-month-old rolling back and forth nearby. I could almost hear her saying, "Wow, Mom, I want to be like THAT." Learning can happen when we seem passive, as well as when we're directly, intently, and obviously engaged.

AcadeMama said...

Thank you so much for the comments, they're helping my husband and I both right now! We're gonna keep thinking on the situation and try not to make any rushed decisions.