Don’t Tell Me Daycare is Raising My Child

Kids on Site, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, USAG-Humphreys, 19 Sept. 2011I’m a woman who happens to be a mother who happens to have a job. As it turns out, my job isn’t one that requires pantsuits and packing my leftovers in reusable containers to eat at a desk during lunch.

I work from home. I don’t have a commute and I’m not forced to arrive early for a good parking spot. But not very long ago that was my life.

For six years I was a working mom, shuffling the responsibilities of a client caseload and the needs of my family simultaneously.

It wasn’t glamorous. I’d return home in the evening to a crock pot charred with chicken and a laundry pile that sat damp on the floor for days at a time.

There were nights when I did the math over and over in my head: daycare costs versus biweekly paycheck were within spitting distance of each other. When my pregnant belly began to swell the scale tipped decidedly to one side.

Working didn’t make sense any more: financially, emotionally, or logistically.

Even though I’ve hung up my working outside of the home hat, I still identify with the sisterhood of daycare moms.

Recently I heard a comment that’s left a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t intended to offend, I’m sure, but it reeked of the kind of self-righteous ignorance that unknowingly hits below the belt.

I’m a stay at home mom because I don’t want daycare raising my kids.

While I understood her point, it could have been made in so many more tactful ways:

I’m not comfortable with daycare.

It’s not the right choice for our family.

I prefer to be home with my children for now.

Because let’s be clear. A daycare center is no substitute for a mother.

What’s more, there are many, many families for whom daycare is the only option. There are others who actually (Gasp) think daycare isn’t all that bad. In all the years my children went to daycare they never once complained. I enjoyed interacting with the providers and hearing their assessment of my children’s development.

The staff was invested in my family and cared about my kids. When my oldest developed an issue with biting at age 3, the director took the time to find resources we could use at home to resolve it.

Daycare helped me be a better mom.

I think most of us respect that different arrangements work for different families. No matter what your particular arrangement happens to be, let’s all agree to choose our words carefully about why we’ve made the choices we did.

Whether your children go to daycare or not, I’ll respect your decision. I hope you’ll respect mine.

Photo Credit: USAG-Humphreys/Flickr

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts by Mary Lauren:

Why I Was a Better Parent Before I Had Kids

The Measure of a Mom

How to Win the Mom Wars


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