Monday, January 7, 2008

Danger Will Robinson. Danger!

From my years on parenting boards, I know this subject is a touchy one. But hopefully it can be read in the correct tone with a little forewarning.

This is ~not~ a daycare vs stay at home mom debate. And while I am going to mention somethings that are pros/cons to staying at home AND going off to work, nothing is always 100% pigeonholed. A "pro" to one may also be a "pro" to the other and vice versa. By no means am I saying that my opinions hold true for ALL daycare kids ~nor~ ALL stay at home kids. I'm going to speak in generalities. Whenever I have had these discussions before, I have ALWAYS gotten the offended response from a stay at home mom saying "NOT MY KID!". So right now, before I even start, I obviously know there are exceptions to just about everything. So please, this is for the purpose of observations, not to settle on who is right from who is wrong.

Note: Anyone without kids who is reading this ... You may be reading my warning and thinking to yourself "good lord, get on with it woman!" but it's astounding how some women, from both "sides", can get SO defensive when it comes to parenting choices. I have always been one who thinks what can be right for one may be wrong for another, so I have always been happy with my own decisions. I'll explain the ~why~ of my decisions, but I've never ever felt the need to defend them. The extreme defensiveness some mother's display is an unknown phenomenon to me - I honestly don't get it. Hence, the warnings on a "just in case" basis.

I'm a daycare mom. I'm a career woman. And I am OK with my decision 100%. There is no "if the hubby made more money, maybe I'd stay home" thinking. I like to work (although liking the job at times is a bit difficult!) and I have and want children. So for me, daycare is it.

Now, I'm also someone who wouldn't be happy with someone else "raising" my children. So for me, I don't think of daycare as the place that I pay to watch my kids. Choosing my children's daycare was a very tedious task and I am 100% satisfied with them. I also make sure the time my kids spend in daycare is "made up" for with quality time with both my husband and myself. We have worked out daycare hours so I get a few hours with them in the mornings while my husband gets them for a few hours in the afternoon. The time is spent with US, not simply spent in front of a television set. I am quite content with the way things are working.

All that said brings me to some things about daycare I like. I wanted to say those other things first, so it didn't seem as if I was using these things as a "pro daycare" argument. Although I ~am~ pro daycare, I am NOT anti stay at home. But because I never stayed home for more than the 12 weeks with each child, I can not tell you how my children would have turned out had I stayed home. But I can comment on how they have grown in daycare.

I think my daycare has a fabulous curriculum. My children knew all there colors early. They learned signs to ask for things before they could talk. They both knew their ABCs before well before 2. Ella knew all her letters and numbers by 3. She's now spelling and writing. (and this is where I'll get a stay at home mom offended, thinking I'm assuming stay at home kids can't do these things. Totally ~not~ what I'm even suggesting).

Another thing is both my children are also HIGHLY autonomous. They've both never gone through a clingy phase nor has either ever had any social anxiety. They are also polite, they know how to wait for their turn and they know how to speak up. They both listen to instruction in a controlled environment and take direction extremely well. When I took the girls to their gymnastics class this past weekend, Ella was in an independent class, free of mommies. I made sure Tom was with us to be "near" just in case Ella needed some extra support. Not only did she join this brand new class of a dozen children seamlessly, she didn't for a moment, look to either Tom nor I for support.

Of course, there are PLENTY of stay at home children who are like this. You don't need to be away from your child on a daily basis to have this outcome. And there are plenty of daycare kids who still freak out, even after years of daycare, each and every time mommy or daddy has to drop them off and leave them. All I am saying is that daycare may have played a role in the way both my children have become integrated with the world already. May have. Maybe daycare did none of this and my children were just born with the social gene. I can't say for sure.

The reason I brought this up was really from thinking of Canada's 12 month maternity policy. My best friend stayed at home with her daughter in her childhood years. I came out to visit, child free and wanting to go out and have fun in my hometown. I was excited to see my best friend and hang out with everyone I had left when I moved to Colorado. The only problem was her 6 month old. She had never been away from Mom, there had been no reason, and now, when we needed her to be cool with someone else, there was NO having it. She was breastfed and never was even offered a bottle until now, again, there had been no reason. Long story short, we didn't go out. This 6 month old baby has laid down the law and we were forced to follow.

It was her story that had me giving both my breastfed (for a year) babies bottles of breast milk on and off from 3 weeks old. It also was the reason behind me taking trips out of the house, without baby, when there was no reason I shouldn't of taken the baby. I was scared to get either of them so used to mommy that when I did have to be away, they would have to go through undue stress. I did it for them more than for me, although I have to admit some of it was for me.
Back to the Canadian 12 month maternity policy. Stay at home moms who choose to stay at home usually do so for the entire childhood I'd assume. For the sake of argument, let's say there is the same percentage of working mothers in the US as there is in Canada. Due to sucky US maternity leave, the US workers go back before baby knows what's up. But Canadian mothers, most go back after 12 months. Which brings me to my question. I wonder how many 12 month old babies have a hell of a time when mommy (or daddy) goes back to work after an entire year, when they are definitely old enough to think "where the hell did mommy go?".

I wonder if there's been a study of separation anxiety between US and Canada. I would assume there would be a large difference, there being more of it in Canada. Not that it makes Canada "bad" or anything. Separation anxiety isn't a horrible thing. Most children get over it and I'd doubt any child would suffer any psychological damage from it. I would even hazard to guess it would be harder on the parents than it would be the child. Mom not only has to get back into the groove of things after an entire year off, but she's given the extra stress of dealing with a baby who's world has totally been rocked from all its known. It's gotta be tough.

Then again, maybe none of this makes any difference at all and life goes on after a year, just like life goes on after 6-12 weeks here in the US. The Canadians probably just go back to work a little better rested :)


KatieM said...

Thomas and I are open either way I think, and actually it depends on how many we have at once. For example if the cost of putting, lets say twins, in daycare full time from 8 weeks on eats up a substantial amount of Thomas' income in which the remaining portion can be made up with a part time weekend or evening job, he wants to stay home. I couldn't stay at home because as of right now I make more money and that wouldn't make sense. Now, if Thomas goes for this new job he will be making almost twice my income, so again I *might* stay home (and finish my degree more quickly) if the numbers work out that way.

Now, on the flip side of this, I am 100% for a structured well-rounded daycare/pre-school environment. There are some good ones out there and some bad ones, but that is where the research comes in. As of right now I feel like I will have no problem leaving my child/children in a daycare I approve of. I have seen great outcomes from the "good" places. I think they are wonderful for socialization, as you mentioned, which also includes patience and manners.

Although, maybe my opinion in this debate doesn't hold as much weight without having the children to actually put my money where my mouth is ;-)

Kaci said...

I am struggling with this right now. I worked from home, so after my maternity leave with Matthew I went to part time & kept him home. I worked while he napped. Then we hit 10 months & he wasn't napping long enough for me to get my work done, we decided to find a daycare. He started around 14 months & thrived. I worried because of separation anxiety at this age, and I read somewhere that between 12 & 18 months is the worst time to put a child in daycare. Adding to that, we were fairly new in town & I didn't have anyone I trusted to watch him so he was rarely left without me (or hubby).

Anyway, I stressed out big time, but he did GREAT. He has done so well that I am now reluctant to take him out. I am not sure that I could offer him as much as daycare does in some ways. Sure, most of the time we spend together is quality time, but I don't feel like I'm an effective "teacher". ARGH!

I've been thinking about this a lot and know that eventually I'll come to the decision that's right for my family.

I have never understood why people get so defensive about their choices...the only thing I can figure is that maybe deep down they think they've made the wrong one for their family. Otherwise, why bother getting upset over it? What works for one doesn't work for everyone!

babytlc said...

Okay, I agree with your time away from Mommy outlook. I worked in child care for 5 years and honestly, the clingy kids annoyed the crap out of me. I don't think any child should be so dependant on their parents that the parent becomes a slave to the child. Those kids grow into clingy teens and adults. (I fully believe we are raising generations of pussies.)

That being said, I was a child that had a SAHM and florished. I was reading & writing letters (to my dad) at the age of 4. My mother read to me from birth and to this day I have an intense love of words. I think that my mother did a great job of teaching me early. BUT... I also see SAHM who let the TV raise the kids and I have an issue with that. If you are a SAHM, be a mom, do things with your children, teach them, love them, be there... but also let them have the chance to be away from you.

I am like Kat, I don't have kids so I cant' say "This is what I do." But I hope that I am able to raise my children to relish independence and autonomy in their lives.

Author said...

I don't know about your theory. Everything I have ever learned tells me that the more developed the brain is the more coping mechanisms you have. Therefore, if a child is adjusting to mommy leaving them at 12 weeks they will have less coping strategies and less ability to process this event then a 12 month old baby.
Many moms who take their 12 months also pump and bottle feed so they can get out during the day or night without the baby (errands, the gym, a break whatever). Just because I get 12 months with my baby doesn't mean that I will be breastfeeding exclusively and I don't know many moms who do. I have some friends who argue that the breast is much better for bonding and emotional stability than a bottle and hold on as long as they can but not that many. I think it's a personal choice. Also many moms who stay at home for 12 months still take their kids to play groups and day homes a day or two a week so their baby has some social interaction.
I know lots of girls that moved to the States after highschool and have told me that it is not common to have your 12 weeks paid for. Most of them got 6 weeks paid for and had to take their vacation and sick days to make up the rest. I can't imagine going back to work with a new baby who is still not sleeping through the night with no sick days and without the possibility of vacation.
I think that the 12 months of maternity leave Canadians get is a nice option and I can see why most European countries actually give 2-3 years. I don't think that a 12 month maternity leave creates anxiety in children and would say the opposite actually.

nancy said...


Yeah, I don't know about my theory either. But I did want to reply to a few things you brought up. It's not because I think I'm right and you are wrong, just as I said before, I like to discuss the ~whys~ of my opinions.

"Therefore, if a child is adjusting to mommy leaving them at 12 weeks they will have less coping strategies and less ability to process this event then a 12 month old baby." --- I don't think a 12 week old baby is coping. I just don't think they know any difference really. Sure, they feel a comfort with mom, but they don't know they are being left at daycare. So my point with this statement would be that a 12 week old never had to cope, while a 12 month old baby ~would~ have to cope.

"Therefore, if a child is adjusting to mommy leaving them at 12 weeks they will have less coping strategies and less ability to process this event then a 12 month old baby." --- Yup. I would hope they DID do that! I just said that thing about my friend not bottle feeding just because it made me make SURE I bottle fed a bottle here and there, just to make sure it didn't happen to me. It really had nothing to do with a 12 month maternity leave. The breast vs bottle is a HUGE debate (as you may already know) and I wasn't touching that one at all. I exclusively breastfed for a year (MY meaning is my babies only got breastmilk, no formula or cows milk - the delivery doesn't matter) and maternity leave didn't change that one bit. I pumped when I went to work, just like someone who had 12 month maternity leave would pump if they choose to.

"Therefore, if a child is adjusting to mommy leaving them at 12 weeks they will have less coping strategies and less ability to process this event then a 12 month old baby." --- Of course! This is where I wasn't trying to get into a debate about daycare vs stay at home moms or even 12 week vs 12 months maternity leave. I think it's GREAT when mothers who are staying home do this for their children. I think it really gives them a leg up on interactions.

"I know lots of girls that moved to the States after highschool and have told me that it is not common to have your 12 weeks paid for." --- I don't think I ever said anything about the 12 weeks being paid for. The reason I use 12 weeks is there is a Federal law called FMLA (family medical leave act) which allows any working woman who works in a company who employs at least 50 people AND she's been working there for one calendar year - CAN take 12 weeks off for maternity leave - and get their job back. Some companies offer more time. Most companies don't pay for 12 weeks - in fact, you are right, the norm is 6 weeks paid when there is paid maternity leave.

Not being able to imagine going back to work with having a newborn who doesn't yet sleep through the night with no vacation or sick time? Well, that's just something us US girls have to get used to. To be honest, it's actually not that bad. I think I've been more tired vegging out at home then just getting a shower in and going to work.

I definitely think a 12 month maternity leave is a nice option. 2-3 years? Wow - that's incredible. But in ~my~ opinion (which is just my own, I wouldn't try to change your own opinion, I totally respect it), I believe between sending a child to daycare at 12 months would have the capability of creating more separation anxiety than sending a 12 week old. And just to be sure my point is understood, I think steps can be made to help that 12 month old out so the child doesn't have any anxiety. But, on average, I believe if a child stayed primarily with mommy for 12 months, that child could very well have a hard transition into daycare. A 12 week old? They don't even know they have a tongue, much less being left at daycare :)

Wow. I'm thinking about 2-3 YEARS out. Since I am a career woman, I couldn't imagine the skills I would ~LOSE~ by staying home! I'm a software engineer by trade and I couldn't just pop in/out of my career after being out for 2-3 years each time I had a baby. But that's the difference between the US and those countries - while I value my career, I'm sure those women don't. They value their job as being a mother. I'm just fortunate to be able to value both.

mama said...

One's own childhood colors so much of their own choices in parenting, both good and bad.
I could and would NEVER be a daycare mom. I waited until I was 35 to have a child and I knew I would want to experience every minute of it. I would want to make every decision and see every moment.
I also never wanted my child to take a bottle and he didn't until he was able to take a sports bottle for water. He still breastfeeds at 5, although not often, and I am very proud of that. It isn't for many but for us it is. I have no desire to go out to a club, or an event without him in the evening. I did that all. I had great times but for me, truly, there is no better evening spent than engaged with him in some activity or even watching a movie with popcorn and laughs.
I gave up teaching in a classroom to be home and work many jobs from home to make ends meet but it is what I want, what I happily do and I think that is the whole point.

I have many friends who work, and many who are at home, although many work from home as well. I think what is important is that you are doing what is best for you and your family and each is different. I think the problems can come when parents are not doing what they truly feel is best, the conflicts inside transfer to the outside.
I think as far a leave goes it should be offered as it is in Canada, but what is done with it is as individual as the people.
The biggest thing I have a problem with is the judging, the stating what I should be doing from others. But I have been guilty of it myself at times. I have a rule now, I only speak up against things, especially in my activism, if it is something that hurts a child (in my beliefs eg. circ) and beyond that I have to let go.
I made very deliberate and specific choices when I became a parent, I was lucky to be able to do it so thoughtfully, and I am so elated each day with my choices and so sure they have been the right ones for me and for the child I was blissed to have.
I hope my rambling makes some sense.

Poltzie said...

Hey Nancy,
I don't like the SAHM vs. working mom debate either. I think that every mom has different needs and if they can have their needs met then they are much happier moms which usually leads to much happier babies.
I do however like what Author said about coping. Everything I learned about brain development in school and since then is consistent with what he/she said. I know it may seem like a 12 week old isn't coping when they are being separated from mommy but in fact they are. Our program psychologist always tells our foster parents that babies who are apprehended are relying on instinct. The younger the baby is the harder the apprehension is. Most foster parents are surprised by this and think that a new baby doesn't really know its mother and it would be easier to place it in a home. A baby is using instinct at its most primal level because it has no other coping skills. Its main instinct is smell and everyone smells much different than mom. This is against instinct and the baby's brain becomes "stressed". All of my foster parents report that the younger the baby is the harder it is to settle them after they come home from respite and that most babies are fussy for a few days after when they are still really little vs. a few hours as they get older. I’m NOT saying that daycare is stressful for a baby but I am saying that it might be harder for the baby in the beginning because the brain has to take some extra time to cope with the new change.
As far as someone taking 2-3 years off to stay at home I'm not sure how that equals not valuing your job? In France you are given 3 years mat leave yet 80% of French mothers work. I don't think they would go back to work if they didn't value their jobs. Most people work for over 40 years so if you think about it 2-3 years per baby isn't that much. I'm sure some "lose" skills and feel quite lost in the beginning but that can all be gained back.
I just can't see anything that would negatively affect the baby if mom or dad stayed at home for 12 months as long as, like babytlc said, you are actually being a mom and not using TV to watch your children.

nancy said...

Poltzie, I didn't mean to gloss over the aspect of a 12 week old "not knowing" anything. I know all of that too, but from what I was trying to get to - it's that 12 week olds can be soothed easier from their separation. Like I said, they of course are happier with mom. With a few pats and cuddles, a 12 week old CAN be quieted and soothed and a 12 month old can sit at the window and SCREAM for mommy for 8 hours straight (i've seen it). Anywho, I'm not trying to get anyone to agree with me.

And, about the career thing, I personally DO see it as a non valuing thing. I couldn't see myself taking a step back in my career. 3 years off, 2 years to make it up. Nope, I couldn't lose 5 years in it. And I've read SO MANY studies about how staying home for those first 5 years until kids are in school are so detrimental to so many mothers. More often than not. For some, they can get right back into what they are doing. But for others, after a long term absense, they can't get back in and are no longer taken chances on. For ~me~, that resonated with me. You can't always "gain it back". So many mothers were interviewed for that article, wishing they could turn back time and not take those 5 years off. Those 5 years broke their careers.

Mama - Good for you to be able to do everything you set out for. I sometimes wish I had it in me to focus so much time with the kids to be able to be a teach to them for the first 5 years, but it's not in me. I know my limitations and that's one of them.

Also, I'm super glad I waited until 32 to have kids also. I rarely go out ever. But in that first year, if I needed a break (more like dinner with adult conversatioin), I could if I needed to. Believe me, I RARELY leave my kids - I actually enjoy taking them everywhere I can!

I really enjoyed your comment. Your main comments were how every parent should be able to pick what is right for them. Thank you for taking the time to write that. I rather enjoyed it!

Meredith said...

Well I am not going to get into the sahm/worimg mom debate because I kinda have strong feelings on that, but I will tell you my experience with my now 2 year old. I went back to work part time when he was 16 weeks old. He went into daycare and did great. I then took 8 months off (stopped teaching and had another baby) and stayed at home. Then I went back to work part-time, but my boys come with me.I work in a church nursery so they can come with me for free. My oldest was 15 months at this time and did ok going into a room, but was somewhat clingy to me. He was in the same room as me and it took him a few weeks to not always having me hold him. He now does great in the setting whether I am in his room or not. My 12 week old at the time did and still does do great (now 15 months). So I am not sure what this says about the your theroy. During that 8 months my ds still went to daycare at least once a month (for my doc appts, breaks, etc), went to many playgroups, and stayed home with daddy or other babysitters a lot. Just to make everything else clear he was formula feed from the bottle. So he started in daycare, took a break, and went back to a daycre type setting but was clingy. Personally I think its more personality. It could also be the timing. Like Kaci said most seperation anxiety starts between 12-18 months. But I think my ds would of had a hard time regardless around that age. Whether he had never been in daycare or always had been in daycare. Thats just his personality. And I am sure part of the reason he was clingy was because he also had a brand new brother to contend with. You will hear stories like Kaci where Matthew stayed at home and then moved to daycare and did great. You will also hear the stories of babies who started in daycare from the beginning, hit 12 months and have to switch rooms and have a hard time doing it. It all comes down to the individual child like anything else.

nancy said...

Meredith - and I think I was very clear to make sure I had that understood. There is exceptions to everything. A child can be clingy after being in daycare everyday for years or a child can be independant on his first day in kindergarten after being home with mommy everyday for 5 years. All I can say is it's what I've noticed, over 4 years spending time each morning in a daily daycare.

As you know, mine are a tad under 16 months apart (I know yours are less). Here is how it went in a nutshell:
~ Stayed home with Ella for 3 months
~ Worked from home 1/2 time while grandma watched Ella, in my home, for next 3 months.
~ Ella went into inhome daycare (one care provider, 8 kids of various ages) at 6 months old and honestly, did really well. It was harder on me than her.
~ Had Allison when Ella was almost 16 months old & kept both kids at home with me for 3 months.
~ When Allie was 3 months old and Ella was 19 months old, put both kids into a daycare center.

Ella has never had a hard day going to daycare in her life. Allie is hit and miss. Sometimes she cries at first, but in the time it takes me to walk to the end of the hall, drop ella off and come back, she's cool and has a great day.

So if you just take ONE example, my theory doesn't even hold up for my own children. Ella went to daycare later, at 6 months and has an easier time than Allison does, and she went in at 12 weeks.

All I'm saying is it's all relative. GENERALLY, my children has less anxiety about being alone in school than children who are older and new to everyday daycare.

Actually Meredith, your children are perfect examples of my theory. The older child who had time to know what it's like to stay with mommy/daddy on a regular basis, had a harder time with daycare than the 12 week old. (Although YES, I understand this may totally have to do with personality and nothing to do with ages of starting daycare)

I spend a lot of time with the teachers in my kids' classrooms to get to know them. I'm not a dropoff/pickup type mom. I know what's going on. I sit and talk with them, I become a person more than "Ella and Allison's Mom". So, in spending that time, I encounter a lot of other kids and learn their stories. I've learned the following from questioning the teachers:

The children who generally have the hardest time with separation anxiety are the kids who go to daycare erratically. These kids never know when they may have to go to school and they never get used to it. The teachers say they would rather have a child come at least twice a week so they can get used to it. There is this little boy who used to be in Allie's class - actually, the room was the 12-18 month room - who used to literally spend the entire day in full freakout mode. The child came very randomly and not much, but the teacher said had never calmed down. Ever. Poor little boy!

The next are the new kids in the pre-talking age. But after a few days or a week or so, the children get used to the schedule and it's cool.

Then are the children who just never get used to daycare. They are either withdrawn or sit at the door waiting and waiting until mommy and daddy come.

Anywho, just saying I totally agree how muc of it boils down to personalities. If you have a very outgoing social butterfly, it's not going to matter if you go to daycare randomly, everyday or at all. If you have a little one who is only comforted by mommy, it's probably going to be tough regardless.

And again, I'm not saying daycare is better than staying home or vice versa. You gotta do whatever decision is right for YOU.

Meredith said...

I agree that it comes down to what works for You and your family and that indvidual child. And Tyler never did have a full meltdown or anything like that, just a little clingy, kind of have you described Allison. And when I taught Kindergarten I saw the kids who crid the whole half mornning when they were there because they had to leave mommmy and daddy. I also saw the kids who were so excited to start they forgot to say bye to their moms (and it was the mom who were crying). Both of these types of kids went to daycare and both types of kids stayed at home with the moms the whole time. I think it boils down more to personality than when you start daycare. I would be interested in seeing a study on seperation anxiery as well in Canada to see if its more than here in te U.S., because I would assume that it would be about the same as it is here.

Wordgirl said...

What an interesting debate -- and isn't it true the hackles this issue raises, or can?

I have a stepson, but actively ttc. I have been co-parenting with my husband -- we have a week on/ week off schedule with our son (and yes, I do consider him 'ours' all of ours...which is weird to some people, I think)since he was three and a half or so -- and in preschool. When I decided to take a leave to ttc I told my students at the community college where I teach that they deserved more than what I could give them -- and I felt my family deserved more than I could give them... I felt I was spread thinly everywhere, and miserable about it.

As for W's early development,
his mother was home until preschool, and for the mother's I'm closest to this seems to be the pattern -- X.(as I call our son's mother) was always, and still is very good at protecting her own time -- and that has made W. very socially adept -- because he has always been at playdates and events. On the other hand a friend of ours who prides herself on homemade organic cookies and crafting journals by hand with her children, picking up feathers and constantly giving her children input -- even with school and preschool her children demand her attention all of the time --she never takes time for herself, and the fourth grader has a difficult time having sleep overs because her mom still rubs her back each night before she goes to sleep.

I know my organic cookie friend actually regrets not drawing firmer boundaries -- not because there's anything wrong with her bright, creative children -- but because SHE doesn't have the time she needs.

I don't know, it's all a balance I guess.

I took a leave of absence in order to try to conceive -- I think if I were able to conceive I wouldn't go back to work. It's a bit different for me though because my teaching has always been secondary to my writing -- and so in not teaching I haven't lost my sense of professional self...which I think can be very difficult for some women.

I imagine I'd carve out personal time if I were able to have a child -- I would want my child to have the socialization, but too I would need that time that nurtured me as a person separate from motherhood. In nuturing my selfhood I think I am a better mother.

I deeply admire women who work full time and raise children. My mother did it with me, but I know in my profession, with how my worklife was set up, and how I am structured...I just couldn't do it -- and, frankly I had the great privilege to stay home, and it is an amazing privilege that I try to be thankful for.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post Nancy!


Jenera said...

Being a stay at home mom, my kid tends to be a bit clingy BUT I think that also stems from his dad being gone 75% of the time out on the road working. I can leave him somewhere and after a crying stint, he'll be okay. But it is still difficult. When the hubby is home, we always take a couple of hours to ourselves minus the boy so that we all get a break.

I am going back to work simply to get him into day care. Many moms I personally know would kill to get their kids OUT. Not me. With our little guy being the only small child on my side of the family, he doesn't get that interaction he needs with others. Also, like your girls, I'd like him to learn more things. Since he's my first, it's hard knowing what I should teach him

jamie said...

Wow son is two and a half years old. I was put on bed rest for about 20 weeks of my pregnancy so I had to quit my job. (me and my husband traveled and installed telephone systems) After I had the baby I stayed home and my dh still traveled which was super hard to be all alone for the majority of the first six months of Jr's life. My husband branched off and started his own company and then got to stay in our area which was great. Anyhoo he was against day care and wanted me to stay home with the baby. I did but I have worked since I was 12 years old my family didn't have a lot of money so I always had to work to chip in and to buy anything that didn't come from a resale shop or walmart so it felt really weird. I am all about daycare/school I think that kids adapt better and they learn things earlier but my husband was seriously worried about someone hurting our child. We (I) waited until he was two to enroll him in school. I think it got to the point where we were both not enjoying it anymore. I had to work for my hubby on the computer or the phone a lot and so he ended up in front of the TV. Don't get me wrong we did work together color playdough reading but I can't give him what a teacher/school can. It could just be me but once he started school it was a HUGE difference. He looks forward to it (he goes 5 days a week from 9am to 1230pm) he smiles at his teachers and has friends it's amazing. He is VERY clingy and he can not have me out of his site to this day unless he is at school. I am 100% positive that this came from him being with me 24/7 for the first two years of his life. I loved sharing all of the memories with him but I held him back for sure by not having him in school.

Sarah R said...

During my pregnancy, I decided I would take the 12 weeks of FMLA (none of it paid at my workplace) and go back to work. The main reason was because I have a decent job and my hubby doesn't work. I always thought, "I'm a career woman". It all changed when Andrew was born. I loved every moment of being home with him. My boss ended up talking me into coming back part-time at the 10 week mark, and then back to full-time at 12 weeks.

I am exclusively breastfeeding, and we started DS out on a bottle of expressed breastmilk at 4 weeks. He took it rather well for about 3 weeks (we did 1 bottle a day, in preparation for my return to work...didn't want to wait too long or start too soon). About 3 weeks into the bottles, he started flat-out refusing. He would cry and cry and cry. We tried different bottles, nipples, me leaving the house, me staying in the room, everything. This went on for a few weeks. DH would maybe get DS to take an ounce, but he'd choke and cry, fall asleep, wake up, he'd try the bottle again, etc. It was HORRIBLE.

In the meantime it was time for me to go back to work. I bawled the first day. DH was home with a crying baby (bottle attempts failing) and I was at work crying because I felt bad he wasn't eating and I missed him. I went home for lunch and lost it. I was bawling as I pulled into the driveway and I got in the house to nurse my son who was crying hysterically. In the middle of the feeding session he stopped to smile at me and said, "gah", like he was so happy to see me.

I was faced with a decision. Either I quit my job or find a way to make it work. And no--for me, formula was not an option. I talked to my boss about coming home for feedings at 10:00 and 1:00 and he let me do it. He didn't want me to leave, and I didn't really want to quit. It takes me 1/2 hour total (5 minutes to get home, 10 minutes to feed, a few minutes of bonding, and 7 minutes back). DH would make maybe a few dollars above minimum wage (no degree and no real experience).

I've been back for 2 months now. Andrew is now 4 months old. I HATE going to work. I would rather be home. If I had it my way, I would be a stay-at-home mom. This former "career woman" no longer cares so much about work. Andrew has changed my life. My DH is a stay-at-home dad. I envy him. He gets to stay home and do what I want to do while I am the supporter. It's not awful, but it's really not great for me. I live for my moments during the day when I get to come home and feed Andrew.

Sorry this got so long! I think it's a great discussion, Nancy.

trisha said...

I really think a childs upbringing has to do w/ the people the interact with the most on a daily basis..whether that is friends, family, parents. So if a child was clingy, its very possible they were going to be that child at home or in day care. I have been a full stay at home mom and now im a full work at home mom and my daughter is in preschool 2 full days a week. She is the same child when it was her and I, that she is in daycare..she is super independant, but probably becuase I am and forced the need upon her as a child, that we both needed to self sustain. She needed to play alone, I needed to take a bath alone...we have LOTS of time together, but if I had a clingy child, I would be a bad mother.
That being said, I cant say I prefer one or the other. Maybe im blessed to have one of those go with the flow, whatever you want mom kids and it wouldnt have mattered no matter what. But i would like to think that I created the child that is in day care, day care didnt just create her personality. I still control 90% of her life and if I thought that where she was at 16 hours a week was having a bad influence, I would change it to something I agreed with.
I am not sure why moms get so offended in either direction. Its good for kids to have one on one with their parents and its good for them to get out. It makes for a balanced child.
I also think that what you do as a parent and how happy you are doing what you do, has the most influence on them. If you wouldnt like staying at home, then you shouldnt and vice versa. If you are true to yourself and who youa re, your child will grow up loving and respecting you and loving how they are raised.
I am not a stay at home mom in the traditional sense anymore, and often I have to tell my daughter that I cant play with her right now, that I have to work and she respects that, even at her age. I want her to know that the word "mom" doesnt mean that you have to pack up who you were for some traditional sense, but that moms are redefining what it means in their own lives.

trisha said...

Btw, i wanted to add that I am often jealous of moms with clingy kids. I have an amazing bond with my child, and I did raise her from home alone for 2.5 years, but she is so independant. She could care less about me holding her..i never had the child that crawled into bed with us, or wanted to sleep in the night with us, any of that. It kinda makes me jealous!

nancy said...

I did want to say in response to Sara R's comment (not that she was implying this) but when I hear things like this said, my own defensives go up. Just because I like to work and don't mind being away from my children during "my time" (career time) doesn't mean I love them any less than mom's who "can't leave them". There are moms who can't stand being away and then there are moms, like me, who need time to be ME. But I love my children with all my heart and if I didn't work, I would enjoy every moment with them. But in my case, I know I couldn't have such a focused and structured time at home, so they are better off spending some time in daycare (from a learning perspective).

Okay, just felt better to explain that :) I think that's one of the main "argue" points in the stay at home mom vs daycare mom thing. That daycare moms must not love their children as much, since many stay at home moms couldn't imagine leaving them. But that's simply not the case - it's just different personalities. (and I know NO ONE was implying that at all!)

Sarah R said...

Oh, gosh no. I know you know I wasn't implying that.

I'm more mad that my husband doesn't want to work, leaving me to pay 100% of the bills and go to work when I don't want to.

I want his job instead!

I have friends whose kids are in daycare and I believe they are awesome parents who love their kids very much (who can also afford daycare). My best friend, in fact, is in this situation. However, both she and her hubby have great jobs.

Aimee AKA adlz said...

Nancy, such an interesting conversation. The poster who said "One's own childhood colors so much of their own choices in parenting, both good and bad" is dead-on. For me, I grew up in daycare (until age 7, when I stayed home after school with my older sister) and HATED it, so I just cannot do it. I also like you cannot imagine not working at all, so we will likely go the nanny route. Many friends and acquaintances use day care and love it, for the same reasons you described.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I totally agree with your post. However, I don't think it's entirely conducive of daycare vs. sahm's. We have to look at each child individually. By their disposition, their personality and then how the child is raised by a parent and/or childcare.

I was a sahm for 2 years and then I went back to work full time. I love the baby years but the toddler years? Not so much. And I like to get out of the house and contribute to the income. So it was a good time for me. My daughter was always secure and could care less if I was around at times or not. Of course she wanted mommy when she was tired or hungry but otherwise, she was ok with me stepping out. I guess my point is (IMO) she was a confident and secure child to begin with. Very independent. That combination, of her personality and me not being an overbearing mother (for lack of a better phrase) is the result of her independence and security within herself. IMO, she got the best of both worlds. She loves school and we have that everlasting bond and memories from her infant years. I'm happy and she's happy.