My name is Katy. I became a mommy 10 months ago when my baby girl Nora came into the world. Actually, if I’m being honest – I became a mommy in February 2012, 9 months before Nora made her way out of my womb and into our arms. The moment I laid eyes on that “+” pregnancy test (pee stick, as we call them in our house), my life changed. My “over-the-moon-ness” was through the roof for 9 solid months. And for those 9 months I planned and prepared like it was my job – because in my eyes, it was my job. The “knowledge is power” theme ruled my world, and I was sure that I would be ready to handle whatever new motherhood threw at me.
Once Nora arrived, I was nervous which is natural for any new parent, and my “type A” personality came on strong when it came to the “right” and/or “wrong” way to do things. I was sure that the realms of right and wrong, good and less-than-good parenting, were black and white. I scoffed at the “live and learn and then get [cheaper diapers] commercial.” Cheap diapers couldn’t possibly be as good as the more expensive brands, right? I was a frequent flyer on the Internet, soliciting any credible parenting website. I even joined groups on Facebook so that I was free to lament and ask questions at all hours of the night during feedings. After the first few very sleep derived weeks, I was a strong advocate for the idea that Mother’s Day should be celebrated on a weekly basis.
As time went on, Nora started to sleep on a more regular schedule and my sanity finally snuck back into our everyday lives. Pre-Nora, the plan was for me to go back to work at six weeks postpartum. While I was pregnant, I worked as a temp for an excellent company in our area. They offered me a permanent full time position when I returned from maternity leave. I was very excited to have earned this opportunity. Despite having two BA degrees, I had a very difficult time finding even part-time professional work in the town where we live. We have no family in the area to help with childcare, so I was feeling very nervous about the idea of sending Nora to daycare when she was a mere six weeks old. I know thousands of moms and dads do it every day – and I applaud you. It’s a difficult thing to do. So I put on my big-girl pants and I decided that we were going to do this. Until….
My husband and I canvased area daycare centers and computed the infant “tuition” rates – we were stunned. We sat down and did the math. It just didn’t make any sense for me to return to work. I would literally be working to pay for Nora’s daycare and that’s it. The cost of daycare and everything that goes along with daycare is astronomical. So that sealed the deal, and thus began my new career as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). One of the biggest decisions of my life as a parent so far was made for me, thanks to our local (and national) workforce economy. I took it as a sign and I never looked back.
Nora is 10 months old now, and our days together are packed full of fun learning and social opportunities. She is enrolled in free library programs, we visitcounty fairs, check out farm animals, go for hikes, romp around our local gymnastics center, swim at the pool, go for runs, meet friends at local playgrounds, volunteer our time to charitable causes, visit museums, enjoy free noon-time children’s movies at a local theater…and the list goes on. Even with all of these fun activities, there are still times when I worry that maybe Nora is missing out on the socialization and structured days offered at a daycare center – just as I am sure working parents fret over missed opportunities with their children while they are making a living throughout the week and/or weekend.
What I’ve come to learn in these lightening fast 10 months is that parenting styles and decisions [like SAHMing or working full time] are anything but black and white. There are a million shades of gray in the parenting world. For this reason, I feel it is only natural to sometimes doubt our decisions or to feel nervous about making big choices for our families. My pre-baby preparation was important because it helped me become acquainted and comfortable with my new role as “Nora’s mommy,” however for me, the real education has been learned on the fly. When I see or hear about moms hating on one another for their choice to work or stay at home; breastfeed, pump, or bottle-feed; cloth diaper or use disposables… I get a little nutty. What works best for my family and me may not be what was printed in last month’s issue of Parenting Magazine, or what my neighbor swears by. My new role as “mommy” is a work in progress, but my baby girl has already helped me to become more real, and to push judgment aside. She is helping me to become the best version of myself possible – a favor that I will strive to return in years to come.
And in other news, turns out that for us the cheap diapers are just as good as the more expensive brands. Live and learn…
Katy Stager, proud mom and wife, is a fan of all things "active." She's a marathon running, swimming, cycling, hiking, art loving, community volunteering, book reading, Instagraming, Animal Kingdom shopping kind of mom who does it all with her little girl in tow. A Bloomsburg University grad, she now studies homemaking, successful childrearing, and thriftiness through the school of life's successful parenting program.
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