Not Guilty.

15 Nov

Jack struts the Halloween runway at daycare (albeit missing his garden gnome hat!)

I’m a working mom. I know that’s a bit of a redundant statement, and one I hope doesn’t offend any stay-at-home-parent readers. But I’m a working mom in a job other-than-the-hardest-job-on-earth-known-as-parenting. And truth be told, I’ve never really imagined it any other way. My son – now 15 months old – is in daycare 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. I drop him off between 8:30 and 9am. I pick him up at 5:30pm, after a day filled with outdoor play, story time, lunch, afternoon nap, snack and art activities. (His day, not mine, unfortunately for me.)

We then head home and I get to hear all about his day through a carefully detailed report (I even know at what times he pooped!). We eat dinner and play together, have bath time, read stories, snuggle, and hang out until daddy gets home. Then it’s bedtime.

I often field inquiries from friends and family into my daily doings and watch as the eyebrow goes up right around the time I mention that Jack is in daycare full-time. “But you work from home, right?” Sure do. And let’s get something clear as crystal: I work hard as a marketing copywriter — a job I would never be able to do with a toddler in tow!

I adore my time with my son. Every minute is a gift I treasure — even the painful ones, when he’s throwing a temper tantrum — I know that within minutes we’ll have both moved on from it and be warm and fuzzy again. And… honest statement alert: I don’t think I would appreciate my time with him nearly as much if it were 24/7. And I don’t think it would be healthy for me or for him to have it any other way than we have it right now.  There is not just one way to be a great mom or dad. There’s no formula for success. Some people have to or want to work, others don’t. Some parents can’t imagine doing anything other than be home with their kids all day. I don’t judge. As long as you’re happy, that’s what matters. Because in the end, your happiness (or lack of it) is going to rub off on and impact your child more than anything else.

My hubby and I carefully chose a daycare we thought would be right for Jack. More like a school, they treat every day as an opportunity to teach, to socialize, and to grow. It’s not just a place that guarantees a watchful eye on your kid (although they certainly do that too). I’m grateful that they are a trusted partner in our child-raising experience and are part of Jack’s life in such a positive way. They hug him and love him and keep him safe and teach him things and make sure that every day is special. Those are the most important things to me, and the same things I promise to do for him every day for the rest of his life. And did I mention he loves it there?

So no, I don’t feel guilty about my kid being in daycare. For me, my career is an extension of who I am. It’s my contribution, one creative line of copy at a time. Someday, my “contributions” will help put him through college. For now, they keep me productive and inspired and make evenings and weekends my absolute favorite moments in life.

How about you: do you feel guilty about your career vs. family choices? Please join my discussion here!

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10 Responses to “Not Guilty.”

  1. TheNewYork {MOM} November 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Well said sarah!

    • ogradysarah November 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      Thanks mama!

  2. sheila November 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I have been both a “working” mom and a stay at home and now am categorized somewhere in between. There is nothing wrong with finding a career fulfilling and being happy as a mom. Whatever works for your family, no one else should EVER judge.

    • ogradysarah November 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      Well said, Sheila. Unfortunately people do judge, and it can be painful when someone judges you based on your parenting choices!

  3. ChappaquaChatter November 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    It’s nice to find an honest parent, there’s not a lot of those around.

    • ogradysarah November 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback! I’m so glad to hear this topic is well-received!

  4. Erica November 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Amen to all off it! This week I have 3 evening commitments and one early morning …a tough week for me both because I will be exhausted and because I dont get to see my girls as much as I would like. That said, when I go in Sams room tommorrow am and she greets me with a huge crooked 4 tooth smile I am reminded why I do it all…for my family. The word ” “Mommy” is the best word I know – no matter how you do it.

    • ogradysarah November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      Thanks Erica! I love what you said… “the word ‘mommy’ is the best word I know – no matter how you do it.” That’s so awesome!

  5. Morris B November 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Sounds like you have things in order (as much as is possible with a toddler) and have organized your priorities to suit his needs. My feeling is that your situation is preferable to working away from home and having Jack stay at home with a nanny. The socialization skills kids learn in a good day care environment have to be a good thing. In our case we had a nanny but one of us was home as well for much of the time so contact with the kids was varied and but steady and daytime contact with other children happened often.
    I started to work at home when the kids were in their preteen years and found that being there and available when they came home from school to be very important and often memorable. I’m sure you will too. I found that the mid to late afternoon away from my desk was a good diversion, especially seeing that it was often a low point in productivity anyway, and I could always catch up on work after supper or after the kids were in bed.
    Overall, I think that what counts is the quality of the contact with the child rather than just being there and it appears that is what you are focusing on.

  6. almnole November 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    I love your honesty and it’s wondeful that you are happy with your choice because as you said, it’s your family’s happiness that really matters.  That being said, my experience has been quite different, experiencing both sides of working full time and staying at home full time.  Upon returning to work after my maternity leave, I found that I truly enjoyed work, and it was probably the most successful time in my career.  But at around the time my twin girls turned 16 months,I realized they were really growing into the little people I always imagined.  I found myself aching to be with them, to teach them, to raise them.  Beyond that, I wanted to experience motherhood to it’s fullest, especially this was the only time I would experience my girls as babies / toddlers.  I wanted to savor the moment with them and not have any regrets.  To everyone’s surprise, I ended up leaving my job to become a stay at home mom.  Holy cow – when they said it’s hard, they are not kidding.  And you know what’s lovely?  I went from savoring the precious moments with them on nights and weekends to pinching myself that I get to be with them everyday.  Yes, sometimes I’m pushed – and mentally and physically challenged – but I know I’m growing to be a stronger person had I not. That being said, I truly believe in not comparing anyone’s situation or choices to the next.  The truth of it really is that there are pros and cons to all situations and we really have to choose what aligns to our beliefs, priorities, goals.  One way is not better them the next.

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