My good friend Gina is returning to work later this month. Her daughter was born a month before mine was. I returned after eight weeks of paid maternity leave. Gina was fortunate enough not to need her income to get by and so she will have been home almost eight months.
Her fears are the same as mine were.
She's afraid her daughter will forget that she is her mother. She's afraid that she will cry when she drops the baby at daycare. She's afraid people will judge her for what she is doing.
I prayed for hours on end while I was out of work and before the baby was born. I crunched the numbers. If I stayed out of work or didn't go back, we were going to be living in a cardboard box.
Ironically enough, my mother, who had stayed home with us, encouraged me to go back to work. She felt that many of my social phobias were as a result of my lack of interaction with children outside of our family when I was young.
And I was an awful mother, I didn't even interview the daycare providers. I left that to my husband! That turned out to be the best decision I made.
When a mother works for 40 hours a week outside of the home (I refuse to call this "full-time"), she has to feel like the caregivers of her child are loving and caring for her child as a vocation. A calling.
I dare say my husband was looking for someplace clean, reputable and safe. The first day I picked my daughter up from daycare, I found all of that, and the love and care for my child I would have taken into account.
Her teacher, Ms Diane, loves all her babies. She showers them with kisses, knows all their moods, has nicknames for all of them and talks to mothers out of care and concern and as a fellow mother, which she is. The daycare center is also helping her to continue her education to be certified in more and more things so that she can continue to provide excellent care.
No one replaces mama, as I told Gina, but when you find someone to care for your child as you would, you become a better mama.