In defense of daycare

Katie says that even if she were a gazillionaire, she’d still send Sophie to daycare.

Photo: jojof/iStockphoto

I try not to use this blog as a soapbox. I’d really rather it be a conversation starter, or a place to ask questions, and I really hope that I offer some comfort to mothers who might be experiencing some of the same things as I am (you know, the whole “phew, I’m not the only one” thing that you feel when someone says they’re in the same leaky boat as you). But today’s a soapbox kinda day, because something has been eating away at me, and I can’t just lie in bed at night and think about it anymore (I have other things that need the brain space). I also think that other women would benefit from hearing it and give a little on the “mommy guilt” we all carry around.

So, it’s like this: I would send my child to daycare even if I didn’t have to. Even if it wasn’t a financial necessity. Even if we had family members willing to watch our girl 24 hours a day. Even if I were a gazillionaire and wanted for nothing.

Over the past number of months, I’ve noted time and again comments on blog posts (mine and other mommy bloggers out there) that women hope they never have to send their child to daycare. I’ve seen instances where it’s both subtly and not-so-subtly implied that you don’t love your child if you send them off to someone else to be cared for during the day. I’ve seen mothers get upset when their friends remark that they don’t know if they could be away from their child that long. Yeesh. Ladies, we have to stop doing this to each other. Your choices are just that — yours. If you want to stay home with your child, that’s an admirable, valid choice and I absolutely do not undervalue or under-appreciate how rewarding it is to be at home and to watch your child grow and thrive every day.

Here’s the thing: I’m doing the same thing. Just because I’m at work doesn’t mean I’m missing my daughter’s life. I spend a couple of cuddly, wonderful hours with her in the morning — playing, eating breakfast, getting ready for the day — and even longer in the evenings for dinner, bath, story time and finally when she lays her little head down for the night. We make the most of our weekends and try to introduce her to new and exciting things, and sometimes I take a day off just to hang with my Soph. But I also love my job. I love the way it feels to contribute to something as great as Today’s Parent magazine. I love that I learn new things every day — things I can take home and teach our girl. I love that I spend eight hours a day with creative, thoughtful, inspiring people. And I love walking in the door at daycare to see what Miss Soph’s up to.

And this is the crux of the issue. Sophie has learned and blossomed so much in the six months she’s been at daycare. They teach her new words, introduce new foods, play wonderful games and sing silly songs. And I truly believe that they love her. So, I see it as a win-win. She gets to experience new things every day, while her dad and I do the same. I just don’t see why I have to feel guilty about that. And that’s why I’d make the same choices again, in a second. You don’t have to think that’s right (in fact, you’re welcome to think it’s downright crazy-pants) but it doesn’t do anyone any good to say so. Neither choice is better than the other. I’m just asking that we cut each other some slack, because, really, we’re all in this together.

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