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Susan's Story: Daycare Drama

Susan's Story

Meet Susan

Jim Daly

It was only a few months ago that Focus on the Family's "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" ad aired during the Super Bowl. The upbeat celebration of the bond between Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother. And that is where a young woman named Susan enters the picture.

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Daycare Drama

My original plan was that a friend of mine, Jen, would watch Avita at my home when I went back to work. But right before Avita was born, Jen had an opportunity to move to Florida with her aunt. Once again I was on the hunt for a babysitter. I had another one lined up, but the Tuesday before I had to return to work, that arrangement fell through. I was in an absolute panic. I needed someone I could trust, at an affordable price, somewhere in the area, with an immediate opening.

As I was freaking out about my dilemma, my nephew Ace’s best friend, Barry, happened to be there. He said, "You know, my mom quit her job. She babysits now." No! I didn’t know that, but I’d known his mom for years, totally trusted her, and she lived two blocks away. I called her and found out that she had room for a baby. I was so relieved.

The relief lasted for about five minutes. That's when the reality that I was going to have to actually leave Avita during the day and go back to work set in. I was worried for a couple of reasons. First of all, how was I going to manage working and being a mom? I know millions of women do it every day, but how was I going to make it? Avita and I had barely started to establish a routine. No one in the house was getting much sleep. Other than dishes, cooking and laundry, no household chores were getting done. I wasn’t showering with any regularity.

Now I was going to have to leave the house for nine hours a day. And because I’m an English teacher, I knew it wasn’t just about those nine hours. It was about the hours at home I was going to spend planning lessons and grading papers. I kept thinking, If I don’t have time to wash and dry my hair now, how will I find time to regularly grade 140 essays?

On top of the fact that I was sure I would be going to school with dirty hair and ungraded papers, I was upset about leaving Avita all day long. Friends kept telling me that she would be fine. Ninety percent of me knew that she would be fine. Yes, I was a little nervous that the first few days she would be confused or upset because I wasn’t there, but I knew she would be safe and well cared for. That wasn’t really what I was upset about. I was upset because I wanted to be the one to be with Avita during the day.

When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered, "a teacher." That never wavered. But as I got older, I just assumed that once I had children I would stay home with them. It might sound old-fashioned, but really, my heart’s greatest desire was to be a stay-at-home mom. For me, going back to work now that I had Avita meant letting go of that old dream.

My maternity leave was the shortest six weeks of my life. And as difficult as it was to care for a newborn 24 hours a day, not caring for her for nine of those hours was even harder.

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