In general, I'm not a big proponent of listening to your heart, or inner voice or whatever mushy Jiminy Cricket-esque rationale we piece together from 80's hair ballads whenever we want to justify doing something stupid. This dilemma, in particular, cannot be addressed using emotions, because there is way too much emotional and social baggage associated with moms who work outside the home. Luckily, you've made my job easier. If you are excited to get back to work and it is financially worthwhile, you should go back to work.
The guilt you are feeling isn't coming from your inner voice; it's coming from your inner neighbor. She's the nosey busybody that saunters over to talk about how your other neighbor down the street must be having marital problems because the grass hasn't been cut. Then she casually mentioned how surprising it is that your child isn't walking yet because her child walked minutes after birth like a suburban Secretariat. You've internalized that woman and she thinks that only poor women and bad mommies work.
Your inner neighbor is part of a shrill minority that believes that mommy knows best, so if baby isn't with mommy, then baby isn't getting the best. These people must be stopped. Let me go on record by admitting that I am fiercely competitive. I inherited that trait from my mother, who I swear tripped me the first and only time we ever engaged in an ice skating race. I don't fault her. It taught me a valuable lesson. ("It's easier to win a race if your opponent trips and leaves a trail of bloody knee tracks on the ice.") The point is, I don't accept mediocrity. If I'm going to do something, then I'm going to be the best. With that in mind, recognize how difficult it must be for me to say this and how important it must be to understand: I am not the best at doing everything my children need.
Here is a brief list of all the things I'm not the best at:
- I can't name the parts of a flower or explain what makes them grow. I think it's some sort of elf snot and "Brawndo."
- I can't watch an entire episode of "Mike the Knight" without making sarcastic and hateful comments about dragon encephalitis.
- I can't share.
- I can't teach someone how to tie their shoe laces. Apparently there is a fox involved, but I'd rather teach the Shiftless Babies to say, "Loafer, please."
So a child that spends time only with me is going to be missing some crucial experiences, although she will know how to shuffle a deck of cards and which sushi place has the best spicy, crunchy tuna roll.
|The Downside of Attachment Parenting|
When I was pregnant with Shiftless Baby 1, I read a book about attachment parenting. (It's a pretty famous book that you have probably read and I refuse to mention. I don't own it anymore. I could feel its judgmental eyes on me while I slept.) The book said something to the effect that mothers should never feel that someone else could take better care of their children. That is a load of sentimental horse manure, out of which grows only guilt. (I do know what makes guilt grow.) There are definitely people who can take care of children, including my own, better than I can. That doesn't make me a bad mommy and I'm not going to delude myself into thinking 1.) that I'm just as good at it as they are or 2.) that I prefer taking care of my children to working.
I'm not into conspiracy theories, but I can't help but wonder whether this "Mommy Does It Best" attitude is a sneaky way to get out of subsidizing childcare and ensuring fair pay. If children are better off being in the home, why should the government subsidize something that is sub-par? Plus, it allows society to create this "Cult of Motherhood" where women are prized for their childrearing skills and rewarded with gifts and platitudes once a year. I always get nervous whenever someone pontificates on the honor and dedication of a job I have to do. I can't imagine CEO's and Presidents get that kind of pep talk. They don't need to hear how valuable they are because they know their net-worth...in money...which is a currency that can be exchanged for goods...I can't buy a latte with filial devotion.
If you want to work because that makes you happy, for love of Jeebus, please work. The world does not need another generation of children raised by resentful, bored, passive-aggressive mothers. It doesn't mean you shouldn't have had kids anymore than not wanting to rebuild an engine block means you shouldn't drive. You cannot, and should not, be all things to your child. People are educators, clinicians and childcare providers for a reason. They are good at. They have training. They are held to a public and professional standard. They might not do everything the way I would do it, but unless they are particularly egregious, I'm going to let them do their jobs and they are going to let me do mine.
Now that the torture of exams is subsiding, I'm back with Yeah Write. I can't wait to read all the great blogs I have been missing as I wallowed in privity and...dear lord, I've completely forgotten Contracts. Oh well. Head over to Yeah Write and check out the great writers.