On daycare

5 Feb

We’ve been on the hunt for a suitable daycare situation for over a month now. I’m pretty set right now on returning to work after Turtle is born. I’m not sure it’s even a choice. Could we maybe scrimp and save so I could stay home with Turtle full time? Maybe. But do I even want to?

While part of me would love to spend all day every day with my child, smothering him in this overwhelming love that already pulses through my veins, part of me, frankly, would not. (Though if money weren’t an issue, I probably would.) But I know what it is to be home with only kids and chores all day (granted, they were not MY kids, and I know that does matter) and I don’t care so much to do it again. I also know what it is to live on basically one income, relying completely on my husband to provide for me. I don’t care to do that again either.

Should I be feeling more guilty about this than I do? Should I be torn and crying over having to go back to work? I know I will feel differently once he’s born, and of course, depending on any complications that come up, I very well may not be returning to work when I plan to. But for now, I’m kind of okay with it.

I just happened to read this blog post from the sister of a husband of a friend of mine, who stays home with her three kids. At first I felt a flash of guilt upon reading this. She argues that no one loves and adores your kids like you do. Which is of course true, but I’d argue, so what? Why does my kid need to be worshipped and adored all day? Are any of us, once we get older and leave the house for school, college, work, etc.? As long as his needs are met and he’s engaged with in a kind, engaging and appropriate manner, he can get all the lovin’ and more that he needs when he comes home to mama and papa.

Confession: I was a daycare kid my whole life. My daycare providers at times had less patience for me than my parents, but it taught me a lot. And anyways, I didn’t need them for love. I definitely resented not having a stay-at-home mom at times, when I got sick at school and the nurse had to call a neighbor to come pick me up. Or when my parents weren’t endlessly available to go on field trips, volunteer at school, etc. But I also really respected my mom for her career and learned so much from her confidence as she went out into the world every day and brought home respect from her work world and a decent salary too. I wrote about this a few years ago on my personal blog much more eloquently.

I also recently read another much better blog post on this whole debate. On why women feel the need to belittle each other’s choices. Is it because we’re jealous of what we don’t have? The truth is, you’re going to feel guilty no matter what choice you make. But there’s as much value in choosing to stay home as there is in choosing to go to work.

As far as I can tell, no matter what decision a woman makes, she’s offering an invaluable gift to my daughters and me. So I’d like to thank all of you. Because I’m not necessarily trying to raise an executive or a mommy. I’m trying to raise a woman. And there are as many different right ways to be a woman as there are women.

I started this post thinking I was going to dive into our daycare hunt but I’ll save that for another day. For now, there’s just this: I’m choosing what works best for me and my family right now. I reserve the right to change my choice as my needs and the needs of my family evolve. And no matter what, I’m doing so with respect for all women who must walk this difficult line of to stay home or to work, every day.


16 Responses to “On daycare”

  1. Courtney February 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    There is no right way! What you decide for YOU, is your right way, and that’s all that matters!

  2. Amy Skins February 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Over on the other board, Emily E and I have gone around on this a couple times about working, feeling guilty, the perils of going part time or working from home, etc. I think there are advantages and disadvantages either way, working or staying home. There’s no one silver bullet solution. But I’ll tell you what my DH tells me and what I told Emily:

    Turtle is going to be a happy, well-adjusted, loving kid, not because you stayed home or went to work, but because you are an awesome mom.

  3. Cristy February 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Daycare is definitely a hard topic with many people having strong feelings about the issue. But, honestly, I think daycare gets a bad rap. One of the major benefits is that it socializes children in the absence of parents. Children learn how to interact with others, learn conflict resolution and tend to do very well socially. So to make a blanket statement that daycare is subpar to SAHM is a bit too simplistic.

    Look, you and DH are doing awesome and I agree with Amy that Turtle will be a happy, loving and well-adjusted child regardless of whether he’s in daycare or not. And that is because he has you two as parents. So no guilt.

  4. Aplatanada February 6, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    What Amy said.

    it goes both ways, too. I know a lot of SAHMs that deeply miss professional life and their careers, and struggle with “what if I had done this differently” questions.

    It’s such a destructive debate to have, so much judgement wrapped up in it. If infertility taught me nothing, it was to keep my opinions out of other people’s parenting choices. Don’t feel guilty about the choices you and DH make. 🙂

  5. slese1014 February 6, 2013 at 2:24 am #

    You have to do what is right for you. It’s a very personal decision. Try your best not to be guilted into making a decision you’re uncomfortable with. I wanted more than anything to stay at home full time, and for the most part I do. However, to save on money I work on the weekends when my husband is home. It’s a bit of give and take, but it works for us. And that’s what’s most important. Do what works for your family, your situation, and your happiness.

  6. Theresa February 6, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    There are definitely benefits to daycare. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for doing what is best for your family

  7. Nonsequiturchica February 6, 2013 at 4:22 am #

    My husband and I not only need my salary to pay the bills, but me going back to work will save our marriage. I can’t imagine that a lack of adult interaction every day for months is going to result in good things. 🙂

    Don’t worry about what others say. It’s your decision and there are pros on cons to staying at home or going back back to work.

  8. Esperanza February 6, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    This is a fantastic post. I so wish I had read this when I was having panic attacks about going back to work and how I felt about it. Thanks for putting this put there.

    You know it’s funny, today I was laying on my daughter’s floor while she fell asleep and I again (because I do this all the time) tallied how many more hours she spends a week at day care than with us and I berated myself and wondered how I could call myself her mother when other people see her more than I do. But then I reminded myself that I am at work that same amount of time. Do I consider my colleagues and my students more important to me than my family? Hell no! It’s just the reality of life that I have to be there 40+ hours a week and I live with it and I try to make it a rewarding experience. And I try to find a place that offers my daughter things she can’t get at home and I know she is loved there and has fun and enjoys herself at “school.” Does that mean it’s more important to her than home? No! It’s just life. And luckily for us, most days it makes us happy enough.

    • Shelley February 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      Fully agree with this and I think it’s important to be exposed to a variety of people, places and situations early on. I know firsthand that daycare kids don’t feel any less loved or connected to their families than stay-at-home kids. It really is just different strokes for different folks.

  9. Stephanie February 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I am so torn on this subject. I never thought I’d be a SAHM, but now being pregnant with #2 there have been talks of me staying home. As we get closer, I’m getting more anxious about whether that’s the right decision for us and if I will be the best mom that way. My husband is great staying home with our daughter, but he most likely will be going back to work full time this summer which means either I work and basically my whole paycheck goes to daycare for two kids, or I stay home. So so torn. I hope you are able to make a decision and know it’s the “right” one for you and your family. I hope that for myself too. 🙂

  10. Keisha February 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Girl, I love being with my kid…but by the end of the summer after being home with her for the first 5 months of her life, I was clawing at the walls. I never thought I would be so ready to go back to work, and I never really felt much guilt over how easy it was for me to suddenly be somewhere else instead of home with her. Of course, she also gave me a run for my money all summer long, so I think anyone would have been ready to get out of that house.
    Now I hate not being with her all day long, and I basically work for the weekends. But at first, it was wonderful to have adult conversations with actual adults and not be Mommy for a few hours a day.

  11. sams February 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, just like my mom was. But since my sister had my nephew four years ago and has always sent him to daycare, I’ve seen what a difference daycare has made in his learning and social skills. I was really uneducated about how much kids learn in daycare! So now I’m leaning toward returning to work as well after our babies are born. And, for the record, I would never judge a mom or dad for what path they choose for their child/ren. And I just don’t understand how others can judge so easily.

  12. chon February 7, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    Great post!!!

  13. Ms. Future PharmD February 8, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    As the owner of an almost 5 year old who’s gone to daycare since 6 months old, she tells me she loves it and is bored being home with just me or the spouse. I couldn’t convince her to stop going to daycare. It isn’t that she likes daycare better than being home, it’s that she happens to be an incredibly social kid and she loves spending all day playing with her friends. I’m glad she gets a lot out of it. I am totally confident that having a stay-at-home parent works wonderfully for many families, and that you’ll figure out what will work best for you (NO I’m not judging SAH parents, just pointing out that my kid is happy and thriving in daycare, and that’s what works for us). Remember not to feel guilty about whatever you decide. Every family is different.

  14. KeAnne February 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I went back to work when my son was 12 weeks. He stayed with my MIL until he was almost 3 (maybe not the greatest decision in retrospect) and moved to a daycare center then. I felt like I was supposed to be a SAHM and was a bit relieved when we couldn’t afford for me to do so. I like working, and I want my son to see that mommy’s job is important too. But I respect every family’s decision to do what works for them. Drop-off on Mondays can be very hard and I find myself questioning our decision, but I know he is learning a lot and having fun there.

    For other working mom perspectives, I highly recommend Liberating Working Moms http://liberatingworkingmoms.com/


  1. The daycare hunt, part I | tales from the waiting room - February 27, 2013

    […] Feb We started looking for a daycare option for Turtle fairly early – during the fourth month of pregnancy. I had heard they book up early, […]

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