Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a working mom's grace

I try to stay out of the mommy wars debates because it’s just not worth it. As long as your child is fed, clothed, and happy, I don’t really care how you raise him or her. But there are certain issues that get to me. When someone states that they stay home because they don’t want someone else raising their kids, something inside my heart wrenches and I coil up like a snake ready to strike. Because it’s untrue. Because it’s not fair. Yes, someone else watches my children when I am at work, but my husband and I are the only ones raising our children. I am certain—hopeful and na├»ve, maybe—that this choice of words isn’t meant to hurt, isn’t meant to make those of us not fortunate enough to have the choice to stay home hurt so deeply, but it does and I often wish people would be more cognizant of their word choice because of course you want to stay home to raise your kids. That doesn't mean that I'm not raising mine.

Still, I’m mostly okay with wearing the (uncomfortable) shoes of a working mom, because I know my children are happy. But I worry about little things as they get older. Since he was six months old, Luke’s gone to an in-home sitter where he interacts with the children of other working parents. As far as he knows, everyone has a mommy or daddy who has to drop them off with someone else during the work day. Until he started preschool and I knew that it wouldn’t be the case. I’ve been waiting for him to notice that not all of his friends from preschool go to extended care before or after school.

Finally, he asked. “Mommy, my friend Cade’s mom picks him up after school every day as soon as school is over. Why?” I explained. Some mommies are very lucky and can pick their kids up right away, but some mommies, like me, aren’t able to do that because of work but I pick him up as soon as I get out of work. Then I cringed and waited for the guilt to wash over me, for his hurt to be evident.

Instead. “Oh. That’s too bad for them because you know what? After we leave preschool, we get to eat lunch in the cafeteria and then we watch a movie and then we get to play outside again!” Thank you, Luke, for your four year old grace, for knowing that I do the best I can at raising you and that when I can’t be there with you, all it means is that you get more time on the playground than other kids.

Linking up to Heather of the EOs Just Write

40 comments:

Adam said...

So far, reading this post is the best part of my day, and it's not even close.

Galit Breen said...

It really is all about grace, and seeing wonder isn;t it? I love this take on the mommy wars and mothering and a small moment. Love.

Crooked Eyebrow said...

Perfectly said
and Mr. Luke is so smart.

Blah to mommy battles.

Krista said...

At our pre-school they don't have before or aftercare so my little B is very much in the minority having parents who don't drop off/pick up each day. Interestingly, she has never told me that her friends moms or dads drop them off/pick them up, but she does ask me if I can take her or pick her up sometimes. Each time I explain that I have to be at work at that time, but I'll come home as soon as I can to spend time with her. She sometimes whines about it and it does break my heart, but overall I know my working is the best way for our family in this stage of our lives. Somehow that knowledge helps me deal with the heartache that often comes with the working (outside the home) mom way of life.

Cheers for Luke and his sunny attitude!

Lyndsay said...

Yay Luke!
When Munchie was really little I was greeted at day car with a huge smile and running-leaping-hug every time I picked her up.
Now? Apparently after-care is tons of fun because I'm usually greeted with "really mom? already?"
But I guess I should just be happy that she's spending her days somewhere that makes her so happy... (sigh).

beth said...

My five year tells me how some kids in his class are lucky they get to stay at school after I pick him up. He wishes he could do that!

Michelle G said...

What a great post! I am constantly amazed at how much harder I am on myself than my kids are. I can do some serious damage to myself with mom guilt...meanwhile my kids are celebrating a bit of freedom :)lol
Thank you for sharing! I'm wearing the same shoes!

Esther said...

I used to be one of those stay-at-home moms. Then this year, I started working. Everything changed for me. My children love daycare, and their caregivers love them. We do what we have to do to help care for our families. :-) Great post!

Julie said...

I have tried to write this comment, like, 6 times and it never sounds right, but you know what I want to say to you. And I want to hug you. And eat deserts with you.

Ivey League Mama said...

I'm one of those moms who works at home and is always there for pick up, but multiple times my kids have complained because they want to go to after-school care with their friends.

And I've lived on both sides of the mommy wars, and there are certainly pros and cons to each. I really think I appreciate the time I have with my children MORE (and they appreciate me more, too) when I'm working outside the home.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh yes. He totally gets you. I love it when that happens.


Steph

Jo said...

So many conflicting emotions when I leave for work every day. All I can do is do the best I can. *Hugs*

Kristen said...

You are doing what's right for your family. Luke is such a smart cookie by telling you so. :-)

Kassandra said...

You wrote exactly how I feel so often during the school year. I'm always greatful that I picked teaching as my career at least, because at least I get summers and extended holidays at home with my babies!

Bari said...

Luke is such a smarty :) I felt the same way when my twins were little, but I also felt that the ability to interact with other adults during the day made me a better parent. Having a career I enjoy also makes me a better parent.

Marianne said...

I love this (and you).

Katy said...

Oh, Erin. I was the kid who always waited for a parent to pick me up and stayed with babysitters and I can promise you that I never felt as though other people were raising me. I've always felt like my mother worked so much because she wanted me to have the best.

You're a wonderful mother. If anyone makes you feel differently, they suck.

alita jewel said...

We do what we have to do for our kiddos, and you are doing what you have to do. He gets that, and that is a gift. You are a gift to him, and nobody nobody can take that away from you. Moms are moms no matter if they work at home or work out of the home. We all have mothering hearts to cherish and love our children with.

Kate said...

I hear that phrase, and i cringe. my children need *school.* They need it so much, in fact, that I'm leaving home for work so I can afford to pay for preschool. My kids need the friends, the structure, the people, their own lives, and your son has shown you that he does too. Even if it's not a choice, your kids are teaching you that what you are doing is the right thing for your family and that's a relieving lesson for all mothers, like me, who worry constantly about every move.

pendy said...

Children generally have a better perspective than we imagine.

keli [at] kidnapped by suburbia said...

that Luke is a smart boy. xoxo

and you? you are amazing.

laurieliz said...

Thank you, I needed to hear this. I'm on week 3 of daycare as a first time mama. Today, my daughter "jumped" into the arms of her caregiver! Ouch. That stung a little :) It's nice to read your word and those of your commenters. I realize that so many of us feel similarly! My daughter is too young to voice her feelings, but I hope she feels like Luke!

thank you again!

quicklikeabunny said...

I like that you found your grace in an innocent and yet oh-so-smart comment from Luke :)

Michele R said...

I enjoyed your post and I get bristly at that comment too about raising them. My boys are older now (15, 13 and 11) and they have had many daycares and for a long time it was a wonderful woman who hugged and loved on them and did all sorts of great crafts and learning. i was glad she was in their lives and I learned a lot from her but the kids always knew their mom and dad raised them. In fact they'd look at me like, HUH???" if I were to ask how they felt "with someone else raising them". What a sweet boy you have!

Dee Wilcox said...

Thanks for this post, Erin. I'm on day three of day care -- also a first time mama. And it has been so hard. I, too, worry about every move, and wonder if she's okay. I have called every two hours or so each day, and every time I call, she is fantastic. Eating great, sleeping okay, playing with the other two babies in the nursery. She gets excited when we walk in, barely waves goodbye to me when I leave. Funny how much we worry and stress! But you are right -- Mackenzie loves Miss Meghann, and Miss Allie at church, but I'm her Mama. Her Daddy and I are raising her. And so far, this is what is best for our family right now. I think. :)

Sarah said...

I, too, am shocked by the amount of judgement that is sent through the mommy universe. In my opinion what matters most is not who worked or who didn't work or other silly things. It's about love and kindness. Showing not telling. Being present. It is obvious that your children get all of that and more. You are a great mom! Go girl!

Heather EO said...

Yes. YOU are raising your kids. They are loved and close to you and a part of you and they know that. No matter what. Loved this.

Krista @ Not Mommy of the Year said...

That is my absolute most hated comment about working moms. I usually stay out of the debate as well, I'm comfortable with my choice and that's all that matters, but that one? about raising your children brings out my rage. So glad your kiddo is enjoying preschool - ALL day long! :)

pinkflipflops said...

I hate when people say daycare/school raise the kids. Cuz even though I'm a teacher, i am NOT raising all1 13 of my students. Trust me, if I was, they'd be better mannered!

InTheFastLane said...

That is so very very sweet.
I hate all the things I have to turn down...field trips...parties....
Luke, is just awesome.

Elaine A. said...

I'm SO loving the way this post turned out!! And I also love that kids can so easily put it into perspective, just like that.

Luke is super awesome. Mostly because you're the Mom, RAISING him. xo

Bobbi Janay said...

I hate the mommy battles. I Stay Home because of my own nerves. I wish I could work, I tried it and it almost got me institutionalized. I have never said that out loud to anyone before. Outside of my husband and two friends.

Kaycee said...

I love this post. Every word. But my favorite part? What your amazing Luke had to say about it all. :)

LutherLiz said...

I'm glad to know that as a working mom the kids may come to see themselves as lucky. It is all that little goat knows after all.

Leah said...

Let Luke know how much I love and miss him. He is such a joy. And so are you. Love you both.

PS: I have been thinking about you a lot during this back to school season.

Kim said...

It really is wonderful how loving and accepting children are, isn't it?

You do what is best for YOUR family. The end.

But not really the end because...I love you and I love this post.

Ok,now the end ;)

Kim said...

Oh yeah, and my kids WANT to go on the bus after school to aftercare. So...we just can't win ;)

punkinmama said...

Oh, I just absolutely love this post!

Mel said...

Love it...you have such a smart kid there! My guys also enjoy their after school programs and more often than not complain I pick them up too early and they didn't have enough time to play with their friends. I'm glad you were given this gift of knowing that everything was ok! Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

this gave me goosebumps at the end.