Over the weekend, a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog post by a woman discussing why her children do not go to daycare. Her primary points were:
1) Daycare is awful, and
2) Her children are her responsibility.
The completely unsubtle implication of her latter point being that mothers who work have abdicated their responsibility to their children.
In the process of discussing why she stays home, she brought up a conversation she had with her young sons at the park. A group of children were also there with their daycare. Her boys were watching them with curiosity, and one of them asked of the other children, “Where are their mothers?” There are a lot of ways she could have responded to this, including explaining how some families are different and some mommies work, just like their own daddy. Instead she responded, “I don’t know, buddy. I don’t know.”
Her response really got under my skin, because she obviously did know where their mothers were. She managed to write an entire post asking women to evaluate whether their families really needed two incomes, and if she knew those mothers were somewhere making money, then presumably she also knew those mothers were the same place where her husband was–at work.
So why be disingenuous, other than for effect? Instead of telling her kids that some mothers work in order to provide for their children, she chose instead to paint those others mothers as simply negligent. As if those working mothers simply abandoned their children to the evils of some random daycare and skipped off to wherever, happily forgetting their children and maybe not coming back at all. It’s almost like she thinks of the kids at daycare like orphans, rather than children with loving parents and stable homes, much like her own children. Obviously she knows better, but if she acknowledges that the other mothers are somewhere they need to be, doing something they have to do, in order to take care of their children, it completely defeats the purpose of this self-congratulatory argument, which is that working moms are bad moms and stay at home moms are really the only ones who love and take responsibility for their children.
All she needed to say is, “I love my kids, and I don’t want to miss this time with them. It’s precious to me, and so I make a lot of sacrifices in order to be with them.” And you know what? I think that’s wonderful. There was no need to invent some imaginary world where mothers go to work because they just don’t give a rip about their children.
As a mom who works, I’ll tell you why my daughter goes to daycare. Because I have to go to work. Because my daughter is my responsibility. Because in my family, in my individual situation, part of my responsibility to my child is financial responsibility. I have carefully chosen sitters and daycare after extensive research and interviews and observation. I leave her places where I know she will be safe and cared for, where I know she will have fun, where I know she will learn, where I know she is just fine. I also worry about her, miss her, and wish I could be with her when I’m not there. It’s not as if I simply forget she exists between 8 and 5.
And so what if my daughter does ask some other random person when she’s on a field trip to play with her? Do you know how many times I’ve been somewhere with her, and she’s warmed right up to a stranger and chatted with them and asked them to watch her do something she knows is cute or help her with something or play with her? My daughter is an outgoing, gregarious, curious, confident little ham. The more friends and the bigger the audience, the better. If she asks you to play with her, it’s not because she’s desperate for affection she’s not getting elsewhere. It’s because she loves making new friends. Kids who are neglected or mistreated? They don’t warm up to strangers like that, because kids who are actually mistreated have learned not to trust people. In some ways, I’m really glad this lady doesn’t know enough about real abuse and neglect to know how children who are actually abused and neglected behave, but honestly, you shouldn’t go around implying that other parents are negligent just because they don’t have the same lifestyle as you.
This woman asked two more questions of working moms: do they realize that daycare, babysitters, and strangers who play with their children on field trips are not substitute mothers? Do working moms know what they’re missing? Trust me. No one is more aware than I am that no one else is my daughter’s mother. No one else will ever love her, take care of her, or sacrifice for her the way I do. And if this lady sincerely thinks I’m not aware of what I’m missing out on when I’m not with my daughter, well, that just goes to show how little she knows about how hard it is for me to do what I do and how much sacrifice is involved for me and for other moms who work. My daughter goes to daycare because it is what is best for her, not because it is what is easiest for me, and that’s true of most working moms’ situations.
I don’t know what the purpose was behind this lady’s post. Maybe she was trying to validate her own choices by putting down someone else’s. Maybe she’s just trolling, which is why I’m not sharing a link back to the original post. I don’t feed the trolls. But I’m sick and tired of people writing ugly posts like this, claiming that working moms or stay at home moms have some sort of monopoly on virtue and good parenting. Working moms and stay at home moms alike love and work hard and sacrifice for their children.
We all make the choices we make because we think they’re the best choices for our families. Just because the choices are different doesn’t make one or the other wrong. We’re all doing our best, so let’s try to support each other.