I work in a daycare called Kidz Korner, which means I am around babies pretty much all the time (except for when I am in school). But being around babies all day is not the same as being a mom. There is a difference between working with kids and being a mom, and that is what I wanted to see today – what it’s like to really be a mom and get the first-hand experience.
This is my co-worker and best friend Bre and her (at the time) three-month-old baby, Claire! Since Bre had Claire, she always seems stressed about almost everything, if its food, breastfeeding, money, work, sleep… you name it, she’s stressed about it. An article written by Michelle Reyes explains the struggles of being a young mom and she mentions how it’s a hard, but fulfilling journey, and so for that and many other reasons, Bre was the perfect person to follow around for a day and see what it’s like to be in her shoes.
Before following Bre and Claire (who is now nine months old) around for a day, I wanted to prepare myself on what I was going to ask her and why she does things the way she does because every mom is different and raises their child differently.
I woke up on Friday, November 23, 2018, at approximately 7 a.m. because I know Claire wakes up early and I wanted to be there for the whole day. Claire woke up earlier then I did so when I got to Bre’s she was already awake. Bre had a whole day planned out of shopping and running errands. I started off by giving Claire a bottle at around 8 a.m.; Claire is usually breastfed but since I am taking care of her for the day Bre pumped some and had milk prepared for when I was coming.
Bre began talking about life as a mom while Claire ate. The first thing I asked her what a typical day off is like for her and Claire, especially since I was doing this on a day off with her. “We wake up in the morning, sometimes 5:30, but today was better and she woke up around 6:30, but then I feed her and get her changed and dressed, she usually eats breakfast after that which is baby food, then we play after that. Around 9 and 9:30 she goes down for her first nap, she’ll usually sleep 45 mins to an hour, then when she gets up she eats and has lunch, and then we play some more, and then she takes her second nap around 2, and then we play some more and eat some more and have dinner, and then we play some more, and have a tubby and get ready for nighttime and that’s pretty much it.” But Bre said since I’m with her all day we’re gonna be busier and do more things than just “play and sleep all day.”
After I had to change her, and normally people don’t like changing diapers, but working in a daycare it doesn’t phase me anymore. After I changed Claire we did exactly what happens next… we take a nap, well I didn’t, Claire did. I got to put her to sleep, which wasn’t hard at all, she seemed rather tired after eating. I put her in her crib, put her humidifier on and rocked her back and she fell right asleep. After Claire fell asleep Bre began talking about pumping and breastfeeding because there is a lot of controversy about it.
According to Mamava, a mom based website, “In 2018 breastfeeding in public became legal in all 50 states after Utah and Idaho passed laws protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public,” but there has been speculations and opinions about people breastfeeding in public, and whether they should do it or not and whether they feel comfortable enough to do it. Bre has faced many problems with breastfeeding but thinks it’s better than using formula. “Most of the time I don’t react to the pump, so that means I have to have my child with me pretty much all day every day,” Bre said. “I don’t use a cover when I’m out because my daughter won’t eat with one over her, she feels covered, it’s just like eating with a blanket over your head.” As for breastfeeding in public, Bre explains how she feels about it “I do try to respect people when we’re out in public, I try to do it as nonchalantly as possible, and I always wear a nursing tank top that unclips at the top so I’m pretty much always covered.”
After we talked, Claire decided to wake up around 10:15-ish, and we had to run errands. I had to drive with Claire which is terrifying, I was so cautious and nervous. I have never driven with a baby before, and you never realize how aware you become when there is an infant in your backseat. I made sure I went the speed limit because I was afraid to go anywhere above it. I found myself looking in the rear view mirror a lot because I just wanted to make sure she was safe, even though I was being as cautious as I could be. We had to go grocery shopping and Bre wanted to go to a store to check out winter clothes for Claire. Walking around with a baby in stores is pretty fun, she didn’t fuss or cry I held her a lot of the time but I also put her in carts to see how she did, and she loved it. She just looked around a lot taking in where we were.
As we got back from the store and got back to Bre’s I played more with Claire and gave her some snacks, I wanted Bre to rest so I had Claire along for a while and let Bre take a nap. I read her some books she had, like counting and ABC books, and she played with her toys which were sensory toys that included songs. She is also starting to talk so I tried to get her to say some words but the only thing she said was “eh” and “ah.” She also enjoys moving and touching things she’s not supposed to so I had to keep her in the living room.
After about an hour she started getting cranky, so I put her down for her nap and this time she wasn’t really having it, Claire started crying but she eventually cried herself to sleep. I woke Bre up because I didn’t want to be alone while she and the baby slept, so I woke her up as well so we could talk more about being a mom.
I know Bre personally struggles with being a single mom and not getting any help, her family helps her but she also tries to do a lot on her own. “I mean… I say I’m a single mom, which I technically am, but I only say that because my boyfriend Brian is never around to help with Claire, and never makes an effort to help me or even play with her.” “It’s hard, let me tell you, it’s really hard. I recently had to join WIC because I just wasn’t making enough and he wasn’t helping, it’s sad to think about but I had to do it.” WIC is a nutritional program for woman, infants, and children. “WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk,” according to United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.
Working at the daycare with Bre, she makes a little bit over minimum wage which isn’t much more than I make and once she gets her paycheck she immediately has to pay for daycare which is $200 a week and then has to buy her groceries and food. “I don’t make enough money at the daycare, but I don’t know where else to go. At the daycare, I’m allowed to feed her on the clock, and if I get another job I wouldn’t be able to even feed her and formula is just way too much,” Bre said.
On average, according to the Bureau of the Census, 44% of WIC mothers lived in families with monthly incomes of less than $1,000, and about 792,000 mothers in the U.S. are on WIC. Being close with Bre, I know she struggles and being on WIC has helped her, but I try to tell her all the time that she should move in with her mother, who has offered to help multiple times.
After Claire woke up from her second nap I woke her up and fed her-her bottle. It was later in the afternoon and Bres boyfriend, Brian came home. While I was there he didn’t talk much, and I was happy because I wanted to see how he was with Claire. After I fed her, she started crawling around and playing, and Brian was in his bedroom with the door closed playing video games. Which was interesting to see, and also sad to see.
“I’m busy, I am always working.” He said. “I work every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and sometimes even later, it’s hard to find time to be with Claire because when I’m home she’s sleeping most of the time.”
A little while passes and I was able to feed her dinner and then after I gave Claire a bath. It was honestly adorable and she loved every second of her bath. We brought in some toys so she could play with them in the bath, she was splashing in the water and making a huge mess but it was adorable.
After the bath, I fed Claire another bottle so she could go to bed, and while I was feeding her, she fell asleep in my arms and I put her in the crib.
After Claire fell asleep I just wanted to sit down with Bre and talk to her without Claire. I wanted to end the night on some happy questions about just being a mom and what she loves most about it. “Claire is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Even though I come into work exhausted some days because she only slept 4 hours, I’m still so happy.” “Even though I have my struggles and bad days, I mean it’s all worth it in the end because my goal is to make her happy.” While she was saying this I could tell she was genuine, I have personally witnessed her have breakdowns, and have listened to many of her personal problems and have always been there for her when she needed me.
Working in a daycare I’m with babies roughly eight and a half hours a day, five days a week, and I thought I would understand what it’s like to be a mom, but I was wrong. Being a mom is so much more than eat, sleep and play. It’s only getting three hours of sleep, working eight hour days, cleaning and cooking after long days, caring for your baby and so much more. Following Bre around for the day opened my eyes to what it’s really like to be a mother. I learned about the ups and downs, and being around children at a daycare is completely different from being around children in their homes. I am so happy I got to experience not only the challenges of being a mom but the heart-warming experiences also.