Sunday, December 24, 2006

Choices

So, my best friend is getting a divorce. She's only a year older than I, and has been married a year longer. Her daughter is between the two of mine in age. It's scary to think that people *my age* are old enough to start getting divorced. It was odd to think that we were old enough to get married, much less old enough to have chilren. Husband and I were among the very first in our set of friends to get married, and the very first to have children. And now we're old enough to start getting divorced. That's just beyond strange to me, and sad, too.

But her husband was a total jackass, and I never figured out why she married him in the first place. She's well shed of him, in my opinion. That's not the choice that is on my mind right now.

My friend has a daughter. She stays at home with her. She quit her job on purpose to stay at home with her. And that's great. Some people are cut out to spend their days at home, and some are not. She loves being with her daughter all day, and her husband makes enough money to support all three of them. Everyone is happy - everyone wins.

Now that she's leaving her husband, she's going to have to go back to work. She is absolutely distraught right now - not about leaving her husband, not about being a single mom - about having to put her daughter in daycare. And the thing is, she's not even putting her in regular daycare. She's taking her to the home of a friend for babysitting. We were talking about this on the phone last night, and she came right out and said that she could not, in good conscience, put her daughter in daycare.

And that made me furious.

I totally respect her right to make whatever arrangements she feels are best for her family. Everyone gets to do that. But she implied that daycare is going to somehow *harm* her daughter - that daycare is somehow going to turn her daughter into a mutant freak. I had to finally point out that the Bear has been in daycare consistenly since she was 6 weeks old, and that she is a *very* intelligent and well-adjusted child, and that she had intellectual and social capacities when she was younger that my friend's daughter does not have now, at the same age. And even now, she is consistently ahead of other children her age in all kinds of ways. I'm not saying that my child is *better*, because them's fightin' words, but at that age she was able to put herself to sleep, sleep through the night, entertain herself with toys and games, speak in simple but clear sentences, and not constantly whine and need to be held my mommy all day and night long. And I can't say that about my friend's daughter.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that daycare turned my child into the genius that she is, or that staying at home has somehow made my friend's daughter slow. What I am saying is that, despite all the daycare, my child turned out just fine, thankyouverymuch. It has not harmed her in the least. She is very sociable, very adaptable, and very loving. Daycare has not killed her spirit. And, perhaps best of all, daycare has enabled me to make enough money to keep buying that pesky food she seems to want all the time.

I felt that she was somehow impugning my decision (one made out of financial necessity) to keep my kids in daycare instead of staying home with them. Like I was somehow an inferior mother because it didn't break my heart to leave my kids with someone else for the day. Like I didn't have the same kind of love for my kids that she has for hers, because I can contemplate daycare with a dry eye and a rational mind.

2 comments:

Julie said...

Since I quit my job (also mostly a financial decision), everyone I meet has said, "Oh, it's so good that you can stay home with them now." Implying that I really should've done that before?

It's too soon to tell how Apple and Orange will be affected by my staying home, but Raisin's in pretty darn good shape for having spent the better part of two years in day care.

I wish people would find something better to worry about.

Ninotchka said...

Oooh, what a hot topic you've hit on there. Like Julie, I HATE IT when people assume that by my being home I'm making some sort of political statement vs. just doing what is working for my family NOW. I've done both. There's pro's and con's...blah, blah, blah. Truth is a lot of us don't really have a choice one way or another. For instance, it would make no sense at all for me to work right now. It might even COST us more than I could bring in. The day it makes sense again, then I might just return. It might be next year or next month...who the hell knows?

Here's what really got my goat recently though...taking Anna Sofia to the doctor yesterday and having him tell me to KEEP HER OUT OF MOTHER'S DAY OUT or she'll keep getting sick, blah, blah, blah. I wonder if he tells that to the Moms who work and have kids in daycare who constantly get sick? What? Does he demand they STOP working? I seriously doubt it. So why is it OK to assume that just because I stay home I should get all hysterical and put myself and my child on LOCK DOWN just to keep her from having a boogery nose? Makes absolutely no sense. I may sound like a bad mother but I don't think I'm prepared to do that. No. I'm thinking it'll pass (it did with Natalie who was in daycare full time almost entirely the first 4 years of her life). If it doesn't within a fair amount of time, then I will reevaluate.

Hope this rant of mine made one iota of sense. I'm kind of doubting it but hitting publish anyway. lol