As we arrived home last night, I remarked again to my wife about our neighbors three doors down. Frank was in the driveway cleaning the trailer and boat, as their quad and gear spilled out of the garage. Last summer they had a hot tub delivered to the backyard and they re-did their basement.
“She’s a stay-at-home mom, too,” my wife remarked with a twinge of envy at their excess.
We can’t afford to have a hot tub, boat, and camping trailer. Our kitchen needs new counters, and flooring that we’ve been putting off for a year. We can’t afford those and we can’t afford to have my wife stay-at-home. Even though 1/2 of her take home pay goes towards paying for a Nanny, it’s the other half that we need to get over the hump in our family budget.
“I believe that all children deserve to have an at-home parent. Its a shame that our society has rendered this nearly impossible for most families, and at the same time know that some people actually WANT to keep working outside the home full-time and still have kids that they shove off to daycare or into the hands of a nanny… which I don’t get. My wife and I didn’t rush into things… we were together for 12 years and married for 10 before having kids….We did what works for us, and that’s what you have to keep in mind… there’s no magic answer, and what’s right for one won’t be right for all. Family comes first. The kids are #1.”
James is right. Kids deserve to have an at-home parent. I bristle at the notion that my kids have been shoved off to our Nanny. She lives with us and mostly just looks after our youngest on the afternoons he has no preschool, and fills in the gap for after school care. My wife and I have flexible jobs that allow us to work from home part of the time, but we do have to work, so we have child care.
My wife and I were together for 3 months before we got pregnant. Would I have loved to have met her when I was 26, and not 36? Sure, but these are the cards we were dealt, and it is the hand we must play.
James is right, you have to do what works for you, and what works for him is staying home. My wife and I work our schedules to be home as much as we can, and we have help to fill in the gaps. If we lived in a city where we had grandparents, or relatives, we probably wouldn’t even need the Nanny. But we don’t so we do.
The key distinction to remember is that while children may deserve to have an at-home parent, it is not always possible to have one. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if BOTH parents could stay home and raise their kids, but alas there was only 1 winner of the $590M Powerball jackpot last weekend, so we’re all not going to be independently wealthy.
Christine Coppa blogs here on the Kid team. She’s a single mom. “If I stayed home, we’d be on welfare,” she says. Again, James is right, but it’s not always possible.
James took a lot of heat in a few daddy blogging forums for his declaration. But you have to read between the lines. Do our kids deserve an at-home parent? Certainly, but it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. James projected his family’s plan on the decisions made by others, and the sensitivity button was ignited. The parent wars erupted in a few forums and those who work outside the home blasted back. Why? Because we know our kids deserve better. We know our kids deserve an at-home parent, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
This morning, as my wife and I packed up to take the oldest to school, we kissed our youngest goodbye on the couch. “Why do you have to go to work, Mommy?” he asked with those sad Puss N Boots eyes that make you melt inside.
“I’ll be home soon, Bobo,” she said, giving him a long sighing hug.
James probably took a little heat because we don’t need blogs to make us feel guilty about our choices and life circumstances, our kids do that to us everyday.
Image via Josette