I recently had a meeting with another working mom who has a son around Trey’s age. As I walked into her office I was greeted with a baby swing, pack n’ play, and toys scattered around the room. Apparently she had been juggling the baby coming to work with her and staying home with dad for the last eleven months. This particular day was a daddy day, so we were able to meet without distraction. I commented on how lucky she was to be able to bring the baby to work with her, although I was actually thinking “what a freaking nightmare!” She went on about how it had been easy at first but now that the baby was getting older it was hard for her to get anything done when he was with her. On top of that she sensed that her boss was growing old of distractions the baby brought to the office. She realized it was time for daycare but felt “so terrible about putting him in daycare at such a young age.”
I actually hear that comment a lot and I must admit, I don’t relate in the slightest. I’m sure many of you will think less of me when I say this, but, I could not wait for my newborns to start daycare! I literally was counting down the days with baby #1 who started at three months. And although I was a little more upset when I took #2 to his first day of daycare at just 10 weeks, I got over it pretty quickly. You know, like the second I sat down in my car to drive to work and was greeted with the sound of silence.
Maternity leave was difficult for me. I had grown used to hectic days of multiple meetings and hundreds of emails. Hectic days of poopy diapers, colic screams and constant feedings replaced those days, along with a feeling of being tied to my house. Of course I made the occasional trips to the grocery store and walks around the neighborhood. But with hourly feedings, sporadic naps, and a baby who cried more than he slept, I didn’t make it out much with Jackson. It wasn’t very different with Trey. Although he was a “better” baby, he was also a winter baby, so excursions outside in the early weeks were few and far between.
I admire stay at home moms. I fully comprehend that this is a harder job than the majority of professional out-of-home careers. For my family this was never an option (thank goodness), we need the two incomes. However, I also fully appreciate daycare. Not just as the entity that allows me an outlet from constant “mommyness,” but as the place that has become my boys home away from home, the place where they are making new friends and learning more than I could teach them at home.
These are the things I say to other women who “feel terrible” about having to put their kids in daycare. How can you feel terrible about encouraging socialization in your children at a young age? How can you feel terrible taking them to a place that will teach them critical skills for starting school? A place they begin to look forward to going to because of all the new experiences they encounter every week. And most importantly, a place that allows you the peace of mind to continue your career, support your family and provide your children with every opportunity possible.
Yes, I admire stay at home moms, and also admire working moms. Working moms make the sacrifice of sharing their children with others in order to help make ends meet. Although we know we lose many special moments with our children each day, that knowledge only makes the special moments that we do receive even that much more special.