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.