"Ah, what's this? Sez here mom is going back to work tomorrow and leaving me with a stranger who costs more than our rent. Early estimates show that she'll only see me awake for two hours a day. It also says that compared to other working moms, she's lucky."
Susie says: Wish me luck. He's the best thing I've ever done, he's the most beautiful baby the world has ever seen and he's getting more fun by the day. Leaving him makes me feel ill. Yes, it's even harder than eating raw chicken from McDonald's. I'm ga ga head over heels for my Hugo. This from someone who really liked kids but was definitely not a baby person. I know. The pre-baby me is rolling her eyes too.
Susie also says: Maternity leave has been no party. It's actually been the hardest time I've ever had. First I was dealing with an infected open c-section wound (less said the better) and then finding a way to go back to work in the middle of winter (with post-partum hormone wonkiness) has been about as easy as (and as unexpected as) coming back from the dead. This is why most companies are like a bad zombie film, for as you see women disappearing from the workforce you think, "Ohmigawd! They got another comrade!" And this is why families can't help but slip into debt. Heck at least I got some maternity leave and some was with pay. In this country, that's rare.
But half a paycheck is better than no paycheck. Part time work? Sounds great -- Hey you don't go crazy doing baby care all day! You keep a toe in the workforce -- until you do the math and find it would be equal to or less than no paycheck, once you pay for P/T childcare and the commute. Oh and no benefits, natch. Sorry baby, it's St. John's Wort for your cold or nothing.
Oh and that little fantasy you as-of-yet non-moms have about working while the baby is sleeping? Ha! I mean, how nice for you. I had it too. My baby sleeps all night (brag) so that I'm well rested to go all day. He only naps long enough to eat anything that doesn't run away fast enough and regret you didn't do the laundry. That's it. If your baby doesn't sleep all night (unlike my pillar of babydom), enjoy trying to fire up your brain to work when he or she decides to conk out for a brief snooze. If you're able to do more than drool while you watch Oprah, and upload some baby photos, I'll give you a hundred bucks.
Speaking of money, did you know that only $600 of childcare/year is tax deductible and that this amount hasn't changed in about 30 years? I didn't. For my childless and far flung friends: in the NY-area $600 = less than one week to as much as three weeks of childcare. Understand that when I say "childcare" I mean all the possibilities: from nanny/babysitter to decent daycare (4 infants to one adult, and a minimum 12 month waiting list to get in so you have to sign up before conception) to the crappiest daycare where you will want to suicide after you see it. Thanks Republicans! I'll see you in hell.
Disclaimer: Yeah, life is hard. But I've got the most wonderful baby daddy in the world and he has a job. Save your sympathy for chicks with jerks or single moms. How they manage, I've no idea.
For hope or a healthy way to funnel your anger into action, check out momsrising.org
Note: Some of this post written pre-dawn, and the rest with one hand while feeding a baby.