We recently went on our “big summer” trip. We traveled south for about 5 weeks visiting family, Disney World and the beach. For much of that time, DH was with me, but for about the last 2 weeks of it, it was just me with the kiddos. We were often around other family, because obviously, that was the point of the trip, but ultimately, it was just us. It was work. I mean, awesome, yes. I got to sit on the beach and by the pool every day, but its not as relaxing as you might imagine when I’m trying to make sure that I don’t 1) lose my 4 year old or ASD child and 2) that no one drowned, got sunburned or dehydrated. And then… I wanted them to have fun! (and also keep up on summer reading!!)
At one point we were visiting with some family and someone mentioned (to my children no less) how most parents worked and it was “hard” to fit everything in to your daily routine when you had a “job” and I swear I could not have been more offended. So…. when you leave your child with a nanny or a daycare, those people at the daycare facility aren’t working? Hmmm…. then why do you pay them? How about babysitters? Are they free? Ours aren’t. They’re about $15/hour. Do all the childcare workers just care for your children, entertain them and keep them safe and engaged out of the goodness of their hearts? Probably not. This is a social problem. Somehow it has been engrained in our society over the past couple of decades that if you’re not working for someone else, you’re not working. If you’re not paying someone else to raise your children while you’re in an office you’re doing it wrong. I would include independent contractors and those who are self-employed in this as well. This is offensive. I know every family has their own personality and “path” and not all parents have the ability or desire to stay home with their children and I respect that. You do what is right for your family at the moment and this may change over time. However, I expect to be respected for my choices in return. There is more than one way to skin a cat folks. When I was a working mom (I’ve done both), I had someone say to me that they put their son in daycare because they didn’t want him watching TV all day. What? Who in the world was letting him watch TV all day? Why weren’t they doing their job of entertaining, teaching and engaging the child? Oh, that’s right. Its work.
Raising children is a job people. Its a hard, rewarding, exhausting, amazing, soul bearing job. I recently took the children to our museum’s Members’ Night in Chicago by myself. Don’t tell me that wasn’t work. Incredible, yes. Am I proud? Certainly! But it was work. And actually, I ended up feeling 2 parts proud, 1 part shame. I was so impressed at how the children stayed together, enjoyed the exhibits, waited patiently in line for their turn, etc, but when we were in the car on the way home, Mr. M was very tired and had lost his composure, and decided he hated his museum gift bag and souvenir. I just lost it. I was tired too. I know that he has difficulty understanding certain concepts and that he was tired, but I was tired too. I probably lectured most of the way home about gratefulness and manners. I was so hurt. I felt that I had done this amazing thing by being able to handle all 3 of them in such a tumultuous atmosphere, and he was complaining about souvenirs. Anyway, we got home, I calmed down, he calmed down, we talked it over. Its work. Even in our daily routine, I don’t just “sit around” all day. I manage play dates, lessons and doctors’ appointments, we’re out at the park, we’re picnicking, we’re swimming, playing board games or baking cookies (well, today its muffins). I usually have at least my 3 children if not 1 more in tow. We’re doing science experiments with our at home kits to see how long it takes bread to mold – icky!! We’re blowing bubbles and painting our homemade stuffed animal houses. We’re practicing writing our letters. We’re learning how to to have good manners, share, take turns and apologize when necessary.
Whomever is doing this with children is working whether it is the parent or a childcare provider. So yes, I am a bit sensitive.