“I would never let someone else raise my children.”
If you’re a working mom, you’ve probably heard this sentence. Maybe you saw it in a Facebook post. Maybe you overheard someone saying it. Worst of all, maybe someone said it to your face.
I’m over two years into working motherhood. I’ve heard and read a lot of things about it – by working moms, by stay at home moms, by non-parents. I’ve heard both great things and awful things. But that sentence? That is one of the worst, and I’m not sure people who say it always understand how hurtful it can be.
Being a working parent is often a choice, but many times it’s not. Chris and I live and work outside DC, which has one of the highest costs of living in the country. For most parents here, it just isn’t possible to live on one income, and often being a working mom isn’t a choice, it is a necessity. Now, I’ve said before that I know I’m meant to be a working mom and would likely work regardless of our situation. It’s just who I am, and I’m a better mom for it. Being a working mom helps me in raising my daughter, and that’s why it hurts so much when people use that sentence.
There are lots of ways to define parenting, but I think we can all agree on a few things. A good parent loves their child. A good parent provides for their child. A good parent provides guidance and nurtures their child. A good parent disciplines their child. A good parent teaches their child. A good parent fosters independence in their child.
Don’t I do all of those things?
Yes, from about 8 – 5:30, Monday through Friday, Abbie is at daycare. It’s about 9.5 hours a day (and for two of those, she’s napping). Yes, someone else is caring for her, giving her meals, entertaining her – but she’s not raising her. Chris and I are.
When we were choosing where Abbie would spend her days away from us, we were fortunate to find a daycare provider that has become an extension of us. She enforces our rules, gives her love and encouragement, and lets us know what’s going on during the day. Eventually, Abbie is going to go to school. Would you ever say that school is raising your children? No, and this is the same. With school, you are providing your child the opportunity to learn, and in doing so, being their parent. By choosing Abbie’s daycare provider, we are parenting her, providing her the opportunity to learn from other children, fostering her independence from us, and learning about different cultures, among many other things. THAT is raising her. Is that for everyone? Of course not, but it’s just different, as is every parenting choice.
Because what people forget in all of this is not only are we her parents, but that we choose who we leave our daughter with during the day. We choose what to send for her lunch. We choose what to dress her in every morning. We talk to her provider about her day. We advise her of any issues or things going on. Most importantly, we make the decisions, just as we’ve made the decision for us to both continue working. It’s a personal and economic decision for my family, but it also allows me to set an example for my daughter – that there are all different kinds of parents, and that she can have both a career and a family, if that’s what she wants. Being a good example for her is the best parenting we can do.
Daycare isn’t raising our daughter. We are.