This post has been drafted in my head for awhile, but after reading a fantastic post last week from Breadwinning Mama on the worst thing you can say to a working mom, I felt like it was time to finally get it written.
Sometimes, we’re a little over-sensitive and read too much into innocuous comments about daycare or working motherhood. Other times, people make unintentionally hurtful comments coming from a genuinely well-intentioned but unaware place because they feel completely called to the homefront and couldn’t imagine life any other way. And more often than not, miscommunication happens because both of the above scenarios happen at the same time.
Other people are just downright wrong about it.
These are the people who proclaim that women “throw their kids in daycare for someone else to raise.”
Who else has a rage headache?
First, let’s start off with the language. “Throw their kids in daycare” sounds like we’re carelessly tossing our kids into a cold, heartless facility, much like a piece of trash. It sounds uncaring, unthoughtful, and unloving. The idea that anyone would use language implying that a mother is somehow less loving or caring simply because they choose to work is unnecessary, judgmental, and making a whole lot of generalized assumptions. While I certainly respect anyone’s right to disagree with the idea of daycare and working outside the home, it would be much more productive to use language that isn’t second-guessing my love for my children.
The fact of the matter is that I carefully, thoughtfully, and diligently searched for a childcare provider. I interviewed countless centers and private caregivers. I checked references. I reviewed their licensing inspection documents and contacted their licensers. I toured their facilities. I kept a notebook. I prayed over it. And when that process was done, I chose someone.
I chose someone to provide care for my child while I was at work. Please note, I did not choose some to raise them.
- My childcare providers do not comfort my children in the wee hours of the morning, when they wake unexpectedly and need the love of a parent. I do that.
- My childcare providers did not nurse my first baby for 11 months and my second baby for 18. I did that.
- My childcare providers do not make healthy, home-cooked meals every evening, gather together around our family dinnertable, and bow their heads with us in a prayer of thankfulness. My husband and I do that.
- My childcare providers do not snuggle with my children every night, quietly read them bedtime stories in the still of the moment, kiss them goodnight, and whisper “I love you. I’ll see you in the morning.” I do that.
- My childcare providers did not feel my children tumbling in my womb or pass hours crocheting together their special blanket, all the while dreaming of the moment when they were placed in my arms. I did that.
- My childcare providers do not brush their hair back from their faces when they are sick, do not weep with them in the moments their hearts are broken, and do not spend time planning how to give them the best possible future. My husband and I do that.
- My childcare providers did not stand in front of our church and commit to lovingly raising our children in a Christian home. My husband and I did that.
- My childcare providers do not take our children to church every Sunday. My husband and I do that.
- My childcare providers do not teach our children to love each other, protect each other, be kind to each other, and about the unshakeable love of a family. My husband and I do that.
- My childcare providers do not make every single decision in their lives heavily weighing the question, “What is best for our family and kids?” My husband and I do that.
My childcare providers do not provide a substitute for a mother. I am my children’s mother. And my children have never been confused about that.
My husband taught our daughter where her nose, mouth, eyes, and ears are.
I taught my son how to write his name on paper and pump his legs on the swing.
I potty-trained my son. His childcare provider reinforced the work we had done, once he was far enough along.
My husband and I have taught our child behavioral expectations and manners. His childcare providers have reinforced our instruction.
When he was ready for preschool, we carefully selected a program that would provide teaching and values consistent with what he was learning at home.
My childcare providers provide care for my children. They feed them the food that I prepare for them, ensure their safety, play with them, change their diapers, provide new learning experiences, and happen to do it in a loving, caring, gentle manner during the hours when I am at work. How can allowing another person to love your child be wrong?
It’s funny; when a man goes to work nobody assumes that he is a less dedicated or loving parent because he is not parenting during working hours. And nobody says that he is leaving the children at home with his wife to “raise the children” while implying that he is not playing a part in it himself. Because she is not doing it alone. If a woman is at home, she is caring for her children, which is truly a worthwhile endeavor for those who choose that path. But the raising of the children – they are both doing that together. Day in; day out. Raising children is a team effort. And it is one that must be done with purpose, intention, thoughtfulness, and commitment.
If that’s the way parents approach their partnership with their child’s care provider, then they are absolutely still parenting their children. Full-time.
And that’s the reason why daycare isn’t raising my kids.