M is for Motherhood

MProbably the hardest thing a woman will ever do in her career, or indeed in life, is juggle working with motherhood. On top of actually having the baby, there’s babysitters to interview and/or daycare centers to explore. Which one can I trust? What can I afford? Will I be able to get one to watch my kids if I have to stay late?

Now, I have heard horror stories about daycare centers. Those who single out the poorer children, even spraying the “smelly” ones with Glade while they slept. (Get a bathtub and a washer/dryer in that facility if you’re concerned about those kids.) IMHO, those are horrible things to do to children and even worse to show the others. Laughter and derision was not something I wanted to teach my child.

In spite of having a college degree, often when one moves to a new city — a big, unknown entity – one must start towards the bottom. Luckily, I was 25, and this was still a viable option for me. But three years later, I still wasn’t making much more than I had when I graduated. Consequently, I was only making $8.50/hr. 18 years ago. Daycare was charging $7.00 an hour on a day-by-day basis and it was only slightly less expensive to pay by the week. One place charged $10.00 per minute for every minute a person was late after 6 pm. That made staying late, getting even more stuck in traffic, having an accident or a flat tire a VERY expensive proposition. Denver was famous for its accidents too. They had an interchange called the mousetrap, where two interstates intersected. Narrow and dangerous, it provided steady income for tow trucks, who just sat by the dozens on the shoulders and waited for the inevitable. It was even part of the traffic report, every day.

I dropped my daughter off for one day and went to my interviews. Just a few months old, she screamed the entire time she was there. Another, private sitter, said she couldn’t handle watching my daughter because her “cry was obnoxious”. I tried several other facilities but couldn’t escape the sinking feeling whilst looking at those lonely cribs, that Eryn would be left to cry herself purple in that little, dark room. Finally the feeling of foreboding became so overwhelming, I spoke my husband about it and together, we decided I should stay home. Making an extra $2-2.50 an hour wasn’t going to pay for the gasoline, car servicing, dry cleaning, parking and lunches I would need, much less the mental anguish of knowing my beloved was miserable.

So I got to be a stay-at-home-mom. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE, by the way. However, there were those who always accused me of “pissing my college education down my leg”. They’re wrong. My daughter is bright, beautiful, loving, funny, thoughtful and has a heart of gold for the less fortunate, especially animals. Not to say that yours aren’t. Understand, unlike so many others in my life, that I am not attacking working mothers, simply defending the choice I made not to work. There is a difference.

Years later, I heard a radio DJ complaining that his wife felt put down by others for being a SAH mom. SO MANY people called in, one being a third grade teacher. She said:  “I can tell after being with my children for only one week, with no other insight into their families, which are home-raised and which have been left to daycare. The daycare children are often the bullies, taking other kids’ crayons and pushing them down on the playground. The home-raised kids were (usually) the ones who picked the poor kid up and gave them back their crayons. We are raising generations of takers,” she insisted, “because a lot of these children just aren’t given the attention they need.”

I felt much better about being a SAHM after that. Not to say that your kids are the takers, just that being a mother is full-time job too, and it definitely has its rewards.

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