A: First and foremost, as you read in the last post, I have, let’s just call them…issues around any frame of mind that suggests that staying home with kids isn’t work…hard work. We would never say that a 3rd grade teacher doesn’t work and SHE gets to go home at 3:00 or thereabouts. But moms are tasked with the role of teacher, nurse, chef, errand runner, interior decorator, housekeeper, bookkeeper, office manager, organizing guru, social planner, party planner, gardener, etc., etc., etc., and all these jobs are being done for the bargain price of…nothing. (But the benefits package is to die for!)
If some wonderful soul volunteers at a soup kitchen one afternoon a week would we dare believe that they didn’t work, just because it was a labor of love rather than a paid form of employment? Of course not! And if that same “volunteer” worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week every single day of the year without so much as a lunch break, we would consider that person the second coming of Mother Theresa Yet still, some stubborn, and dare I say ignorant folks continue to resist looking on the raising of children as work. And if we were to put this on a scale of importance to our lives, our well-being and even society as a whole, there isn’t a job out there that could be considered to be of greater or more profound consequence. I believe it was Lee Iacocca, CEO of Chrysler that was quoted as saying, “I can have all the money in the world, but if I fail my children, I have accomplished nothing of consequence in this life.”
But alas, just like any job there are people…parents, that should be fired. They are lazy, disinterested, and occasionally incompetent. But if being a parent is the work that you love then that is exactly what you should be doing. I have two of my absolute dearest friends who have owned and run day-care centers. One ran a center affiliated with her church and the other owned and ran a private in-home daycare. And for as much as I esteem these women in my life, I am not, and never will be a fan of day-care. As far as I am concerned, it is and always will be a woefully poor substitute for the warmth and nurturing that children receive from loving, attentive parents. I have been in and around various day-care environments and while I recognize that many of them do a fine job, at the end of the day, it is not and never will be the same as mom. Now, I am of course creating this discourse around some alarmingly broad assumptions. I am assuming that if your heart’s desire is to be home and raising your kids that you would approach that calling with passion, dedication and devotion. If that’s not the case, then your children may, in fact, be better off with a quality day-care provider. But it drives me just this side of crazy when I hear parents insisting that they drop little Johnny off at day-care because he needs the socialization. Unless you’re making a habit of employing babysitters named Sony, Panasonic or Magnavox, this is utter nonsense and I’m putting that as politely as possible.
While I don’t know your personal situation in any sort of depth or detail, I would say that if you WANT to be the one home raising your children I would hope that your husband values their well-being enough to sit down with you and discuss a strategy that would allow you to serve your family in this way. The average cost of day-care for 2 children, full-time is $250-$300 per week. And if you and your husband don’t consider your children infinitely more valuable than that I don’t really know what to say or where to begin. So how do care providers make money at this rate? Um…that would be volume. And I for one don’t ever want my children to be part of someone’s economy of scale. The thought of dropping my children off at a day-care center literally brings me to tears and would shatter my heart into a million dusty and distraught pieces. But I also fully acknowledge that that is my husbands and my personal value system speaking. I have readily and willingly acknowledged that if a woman has a career she is passionate about then I would never want or expect her to fall on the altar of sacrificing that for her children as they will ultimately be the one’s paying the price of your regret and discontent. As well, there are extremely difficult circumstances that families are forced to reckon with, but as it pertains the question as you put it, I can only encourage you to sit down with your husband and figure out a way to allow that which is most dear and precious to you to receive all that you have to give. If they aren’t worth it, I cannot imagine what is