Q&A: not wanting someone else to be with your baby all day

Julie writes:

"I have a 10 month old and I've been back to work for 4 months now. I make very good money for a low stress/enjoyable job (I recently went part-time).  However, I cry, and cry hard at least once a week when I drop him off at day care.   I miss him terribly and am always wondering how he is and what he is doing while I am not with him.   I think he is in great hands at daycare.  The woman we found came highly recommended and is great with him and he has thrived there.  He seems happy???  But the problem is....it is not ME caring for him everyday.  I just have this constant paranoia around him being at day care.  I don't know if I am just a control freak or if I am not listening to my gut.  I have popped in during the day to check in on him and everything seemed great.  I think I am just not comfortable with so many kids being cared for at once.  The day care is licensed and they have a stellar inspection record, so why am I so.....uptight about it?

So, I have been discussing the idea to downsize to my husband. Sell the house and buy something smaller, move back to PA and out of this expensive area, quit my current job and find something that allows me to work from home (and bring in a sitter?).  We've considered many things, but according to our financial planner, we would REALLY need to downsize.   I don't want to live in a 'bad' area, and I don't want to carry the guilt of completely uprooting and changing the quality of our lives....worrying about what loaf of bread we can buy at the grocery store.  

I go round-and-round-and round and it seems hopeless.  How do other moms cope?   Why do I have a major breakdown at least once a week?  I need some tools or methods because I am not doing so well.   How do I decide which guilt should consume me each and every day?  Which is more damaging...impacting our financial future or missing my kid so much it hurts? Sigh, please help."

Oh, honey. I hear you. I so completely and totally hear you. Although my situation is so much easier because I didn't go back to work until my baby was 2, my babysitter is the best babysitter in the entire universe (seriously, in so many ways), and I knew it was absolutely necessary for me to go back to work when I did.

But I still cried on my way to work every day for months, and I still feel guilty and sad and angry and panicky that I'm not with my kids all day. The guys that own the company I work for are wonderful people who give so much to their employees and are quite family-friendly. I am lucky that they needed someone who does what I do at the exact time I needed to go back to work. But it isn't my dream to be in an office all day while my sons are with someone else. (Although it is so much easier to be at work than it ever was at home. And I never have to give a play-by-play of what I'm doing in the bathroom.)

So here are the things I think you (and I) should bear in mind:

It is what it is.

And it's not forever.

It is what it is. For me, the only way to get out of a marriage that was making me spiritually and physically ill (and get my kids out from the middle of a dysfunctional relationship ) was to go back to work. I would do almost anything in the world to make sure they didn't see that relationship modeled anymore, so my only choice was to go back to work. For me, the only way to make my kids' lives better was to go back to work.

So I've been keeping that in mind this last year. It is what it is. I'm doing what needs to be done. Only you can determine if it's worse to take a financial hit for a few years or to be miserable being away from your child. Or if there's a compromise that's feasible for your family.

It's not forever. Sometimes it's easy to be frozen in the moment with our children. But nothing stays the same with kids, so any decision you make now may not be the decision you make in 6 months or a year or two or three years. Staying home to be with your baby might be something you can do for a year, and then go back into the workforce, so the financial impact is only temporary. Or maybe you'll be able to tighten your belts now and save with the goal of your staying home for a few months a year or two from now.

It sounds to me like you're truly unhappy with the way things are. So think about what really matters to you and your husband, not what you think should matter, and how you could make things happen to keep what you need by sacrificing what you don't. And don't engage in all-or-nothing thinking, because that just gangs up on you. Think in terms of 6-month increments as part of a longer-term trend.

How do the rest of you deal with this? I'm sure some of you are back at work because you really like it. But I'm sure there are others of you who wish you didn't have to be there. How do you negotiate the double mind?