Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Make a New Working Mom Feel Bad... and What Will's Doing for DayCare

Note: This post is a little snarky, or maybe a lot snarky.  Please don't take offense at it. Be sure to read my commentary at the end.

How to Make a New Working Mom Feel Bad:

1. Assume she isn't going back to work.

2. When you find out she is going back to work, make an "oh that's too bad" face or comment.

3. Assume she found a "desirable" daycare situation for her baby, like family, or friends, or, at the very least, an in-home daycare. 

4. When you find out the baby is going to a regular old daycare center, make an "oh that's too bad" face or comment. 

To really hit this one home, say something like, "Can't your parents take him?" or "My friend is using this website to do background checks on home-care places.  I could get it for you."  or "I bet if you ask around, you could find a home-care place.  I knew a lady who only took teacher's kids."

5. When you find out the regular old daycare center isn't a fancy special one, but just a Kindercare, make an "oh that's too bad" face or comment.

6. Offer platitudes about how it will all work out to try to make her feel better.

Okay, so, first, please note that most of my actual friends have not said these things to me, as they've been in the loop on the situation the entire time.  It's actually mostly been acquaintances and near-strangers who've commented.  And if you are my friend, and you have said something like #4, know that I know that you weren't trying to hurt my feelings; you were just trying to be helpful.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing I've discovered in the last week as I've prepared to go back for work is that somewhere over the course of the last several months, I have learned to believe that by sending my son to a daycare center, he's not in the best situation he can be in.  When people ask me "who is taking care of him?" I respond with "He's just at a daycare center."  Just?   No, not just.  It's a very nice facility, with a staff that seems lovely and well-trained and very caring so far. 

I shouldn't have to feel guilty for going back to work.  I'm not here just because we need the money, but because I love my job.  LOVE it.  Being a SAHM wouldn't work for me, although I admit that I could probably go part-time if the finances allowed. 

I shouldn't have to feel guilty for putting him in a daycare center.  I asked around.  I put out feelers for a home-care situation.  Nobody I knew was able to recommend someone to me, and I just wasn't comfortable finding a place online, regardless of how well it was rated.  So I visited a few centers near school and home, and picked this one based on several factors.  It's not just a daycare center.  I'm not going to let myself say that anymore.

The reality is, I'm a full-time working mom.  I love my job, and I love my son.  I love my son more than I love my job.  I wasn't going to put him somewhere that wasn't good for him.  We'll see how this goes, and if doesn't work out, I'll find somewhere else.  But for now, I'm happy with it.  He's doing okay, he's getting adjusted.  And I don't want to feel badly about my choice.

I guess I'm saying that it's really not all the fault of the people who've made those faces and comments, because I've set them up to say them by saying he's just at daycare.  I've believed that family or friends or home-care is best, too, and I've felt guilty.

But I'm done with that, okay?

From now on, here's what I'm going to say:  "Will's at a daycare center really close to our house.  So far, the staff seems really lovely.  I really like the directors, and the lady who is with him most of the day is this Bosnian-grandmother type who clearly loves babies and wants to take really good care of him.  He's only been there a few days, but he seems to be adjusting pretty well - I think he really likes watching the other babies and can't wait to be able to sit up on his own and play, too."

So that's that.


  1. Hi Beth, your post took me back 19 years when I went back to work 3 months after Billy was born. I truly believe I am a better mom because I work outside the home. The choice is a very personal one as is the choice of who to have watch your children. Trust yourself and ignore all other! Good luck with the upcoming school year! Nancy

  2. I'm sorry you've felt guilty about putting Will in a daycare center. You make your decisions on good information and what makes you comfortable. That's what's best for you and Will.

  3. Diana in CaliforniaAugust 7, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Hi Beth, (long time lurker - first time commenting) You go! I'm so glad you found the words to eloquently present your decision to people around you. They probably do mean well, but it astounds me that people don't default to thinking that parents are making the best decision for their families. You're absolutely right that you shouldn't feel guilty. I hope you get to say it with a smile and that folks will come away with a broader perspective.

  4. Amazing woman, friend, teacher, sister, wife adds to her repertoire amazing mother. You always do your best for Will and his care while you and Husband are at work is just one of many decisions made in his best interest. I love your new response. I really believe in how a change of words can create in us a change of perspective - sometimes one we didn't even know we needed. Similarly, I have deleted "I can't believe _____!" from my vocabulary. When appropriate, I instead say "I can hardly believe _____!" or "It is hard to believe _____!" because that is what I actually mean. I don't want to be a person who "can't believe" something, especially when it's something good to believe in!

  5. Soooo...you are (were)positioning yourself as someone who isn't smart enough to make the best decision for you family. Or, you are (were) positioning yourself as someone who is putting you over your family.
    Just wanted to back you up, and say "Good for you". You know you best, You know Will best, and you know what will be best for everyone involved. And you acted on that information, so end of story.
    Good for you to change your responses, in order to change others' responses as well. But know that you really are, as Brooke said, and amazing woman, friend, mother and all those other superlative things that you actually are. :) Love and hugs, K


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