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Situation not that bad overall but a very deep personal sorrow

Luckily our family has been able to afford good early childcare for our one son. Both my husband and I work at decent jobs and combined have a middle class household income. We also have an expensive new mortgage (bought our first house five weeks after our son was born).

However, the fact that I had to work much more than I wanted to work when my son was young (i.e. I did not get to spend enough time with him in those early, formative days), in part to pay the high cost of daycare, will remain one of the great regrets of my life. Ideally I would have liked to work half time when my son was an infant until the age of 3. However, the double whammy of paying for healthcare coverage for my family (which would have increased to about $750 a month if I reduced my FTE at work) and ironically the high cost of daycare for the days I would have to work made it impossible for me to ever go below 0.8 FTE. Also, daycares usually have set schedules where children need to be there either Mon, Wed, Fri or Tue/Thurs. You pay for a full day even if you have your child there a short day. Unfortunately, the schedule that is convenient to run a business doesn’t always match up with the hodge-podge of childcare solutions that an individual family may be able to work out with their employers and others who might help in caring for their child more affordably (i.e. family). When my son was a baby and toddler, I was always “scheming” ways to cover his care during the times I needed to work and also find some way to minimize his time in daycare and the time he spent away from me. Because of what I considered this forced separation due to financial reasons, I suffered from post-partum depression starting about the time I had to go back to work and put my son in daycare (when he had just turned 4 months old). He had had very severe colic and was just coming out of it when I had to go back to work. Because I felt what I was doing was wrong in some fundamental way (against the natural order of mothers and babies) I saw a decrease in work productivity for the first couple of years after I returned to work.

A few years later, our daycare was closed and we had to find a preschool for our three year old. We then encountered extreme waiting lists (75 kids at one place). Basically, we would have needed to get our names on a waiting list when I was pregnant to get him into the preschools that were conveinent to our home or work and which seemed like nice, educationally focused places for him to go. He did get into a Montessori program which was fine although we are now realizing it did not prepare him well for kindergarten in the public school system. So all in all - no big tragedies here but lots of personal sadness, hassles, expenses and ultimately a baby and mommy who didn't get to spend enough time together in the early years.

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