This blog is dedicated to all of those parents out there who wish away winter break or dread daddy duty and dump their kids in daycare when they've got nothing pressing to do. Wake up! Your children’s lives are passing you by! Get off your butts and spend time with your kids!
Not once did I ever pretend to drop my dolls off at daycare. They never had a nanny. They never went away to summer camp.
Ah, what a lead-in - right? You think you know where I’m going with this, but wait…. Before working parents get all angry with me, this is not a blog about bashing you for doing what you’ve got to do to pay your bills. I completely understand that not every day is Bring Your Child to Work Day and there is a need for routine childcare. Just bear with me…. I have a point.
Back to what I was saying….
As I grew older, having a child meant more to me. A child, my child, was an extension of myself. I love myself, so I would love my child even more. I wanted to take all of the love inside me and infuse it in another person. Love them to pieces. Share my life with them and help mold them into a person I could be proud of. I wanted to be the most important person in my child’s life. I wanted to be there for him or her, always. I knew if given the chance, I would put them first, period.
Growing up I felt I was always lacking something. While my parents did the best they thought they could do raising me, I don’t remember receiving hugs every day. I don’t remember waking up with the desire to run into my mother’s room and squeeze her all up. I don’t remember looking towards her for approval and getting a warm fuzzy smile back.
I can stand on my soapbox here and be critical, but I have not walked a mile in my parents’ shoes. And, I can not change the past. However, God has granted me the chance to change the future – change it with my child. I want to provide a loving environment so her happiness thrives inside of her and she becomes a loving, caring adult, cradled by me along the way. I want her to know, in her heart, that I wanted her, and wanted her around me, as much as I could possibly arrange.
Until you become a parent, I don’t think you can even realize the depths of your love for your children. It’s the kind of thing you have to live and learn. Trial by fire. You only “get it” by experiencing the experience.
All I knew, from the time even before my daughter was born, is that I loved her. Since the day she was born I have loved and love spending every minute with her. I hold even the ordinary moments with her close to my heart - the times when we played together, and even the times when we got on each other’s nerves. I can honestly say that I enjoy every second of every day that I am with her.
That said, I also understand how every parent (and child) needs a break sometimes, too. Socialization with others is important, and learning to be independent is equally empowering for a child. And, mom or dad needs some alone time where they are referred to by their first names, and not just by their parental titles. Parents and children spending a little time apart really accentuates the appreciation of each other when they are reunited. It also recharges parental batteries. And notice, I said spending a little time apart.
This is what I don’t get, though.
I don’t get it when parents, who have the privilege to stay at home with their children and not have to go to work in the morning, purposely put their children in day care or hire a nanny to deal with the child rearing. I don’t care how much money you have to throw around; in my book, it’s just not right.
With summer upon us, it reminded me of one more thing. I don’t get it when parents who do have to work most of the year, and only get a week or two off for vacation, choose to send their child to camp, daycare, school, or hire a babysitter - when that window of opportunity should be the most cherished and appreciated time together that you can spend as a family.
I don’t get it. I just don’t.
And these kinds of situations exist. I see it all the time. And it makes me seethe.
It doesn’t make me angry because I don’t have a nanny. It doesn’t make me angry because I want to run around childless and indulge on self-pampering like some parents do. It makes me angry because here are some little people, being cast off, feeling like they are not wanted around, because maybe, that really is the case.
You can be a stay-at-home parent and not want your child around, or, a working parent and not want your child around. Kids, sense this. They will know this. Trust me.
If alone time is that important to the kinds of parents who do the chronic “daycare dump”, then they can explain to me why they became parents in the first place. Everyone has a choice. To me, if you’ve chosen to favor a life of leisure without the disturbance of having someone rely on you for their care, then maybe you should have considered that before they were born. And by care, I mean do more than financially provide for them.
Children are not pets. They are not houseplants. You are their world. They should be yours.
There’s nothing wrong with opting out of the parent zone. To have children for the sake of saying that you procreated really doesn’t say much at all. Don’t parents who dump their children in daycare while they are at home 24/7 realize that they are the center of their child’s world? At least at the start of this scheduled abandonment they are. After a while that childcare worker, teacher, or camp counselor takes the place of mommy in the hearts and minds of the child. After all, they are the one who the child spends a good portion of their days with – every day.
These parents, who have the luxury to not place their children in daycare because they do not work are the worst offenders in my eyes, when they do it anyway. I know many examples where parents ship their child off to daycare from 9am to 6pm every day, for no other reason than mom or dad just doesn’t want them around. I hear the excuses: “He’s just too hard to handle,” or “I can’t deal with her; the school can do better.” Well, maybe your child would listen to you if you bothered to show them some attention in the first place.
When I hear parents wishing away winter break, or dreading the extra days off from school that their children get because of unused snow days, (and I know they don’t have childcare issues because they are home all day), I shake my head. These parents talk about how they don’t like it when their children are off in the summer and can’t wait until they go back to school in the fall. It really makes me mad – and sad. How would their children feel if they knew that mommy or daddy didn’t really want them at home? That they felt they were a bother or burden?
Well, ask these kids how they feel, because you’ll find out. They’ll probably cry and tell you that they never see mommy or daddy, or they will explain how much they miss them. And if they don’t express themselves that way, you can bet they’re probably the type of kids who have ants in their pants in school and act out badly trying to get attention – because that’s the only way they usually get their parents’ attention at home.
I’ve met some of these loving children who have been diagnosed by teachers and counselors as being “hyper” or have had disciplinary issues because they act out and don’t listen in school or at camp. They are not all medical cases needing drugs to calm them down. All these kids want is some loving attention, which they appear to be lacking at home. When I hug them, and spend time with them, there are no outbursts. They listen to me. They smile. All they want – is to feel wanted.
Personally, I can’t wait until my daughter is on summer vacation! I miss the time I used to spend with my child before she entered the school system. She was my little helper; my shadow. We ran errands together. She “helped” me garden or cook in the kitchen. We had more story time – more snuggle time. Life was slower and less crazed.
I’m not alone. I know many stay-at-home parents who savor the last few months and cherish the years before their child starts Kindergarten and they are separated for a greater portion of their days. We are the group that did not jump on the daycare bandwagon. We are the ones that said “Stop! I want to be closer to my child than the pre-school teacher or babysitter!” And yes, we knew we were blessed with the ability to stay at home to play such an important role in our babies’ lives, and we were going to take advantage of that.
I do understand that there are parents who leave the house to work. But when you get such a short lived time during the year to spend your days off with your child and you purposely elect not to, what does that say to them? Guess what? It says you choose not to be with them. You choose your alone time over sharing your time with your child.
Do you think that your child really prefers to go to school or camp rather than spend time with the person who brought them into this world? They may say that they do, but how do the children feel? And if daycare is their desire, what does that say about the relationship that you have established with your children? Maybe they would rather spend time with their teacher or babysitter – than you. How does that make you feel?
Is shopping with your friend without having your children tag along that important to you that you’d dump them in daycare? What about a nice mani-pedi while you are child-free? We all like those. I’m not telling you to give up your moments of silence and sanity, but please remember, you signed up for a lifetime contract here with your little person. Your time is precious. Use it wisely. You may realize all that you missed out on spending time with your kids one day when they’re all grown up. You can’t get “now” back.
Running errands isn’t easy with toddlers. Cleaning the house while barricading babies behind gates isn’t as efficient. All of the activities when your children are around don’t revolve around you. But, I’d like to say to those more selfish individuals – don’t you realize that you only get now, right now, with your child….and their lives are passing you by.
So many men and women long to have children but their life circumstances or infertility dictate that they can’t. Many parents only get to share a small portion of their time with their children because of custody issues, and cherish every second they can spend with them. And you can bet that most of these people would not do what I’ve seen certain others do – Davey goes to daycare all day while Mommy lounges poolside. When Davey gets home, Nancy the Nanny takes over and Davey doesn’t even know how to act around his absentee parent. Mommy who? Wash, rinse, repeat. These parents are the types that believe that vacations are for them only – every time. Baby Melissa gets shipped off to the aunt’s house for a week, or goes to camp while daddy’s at the beach. Where’s her fun time – with family?
I’m sorry, but if you can afford to send your kids to camp, daycare [insert shipping off facility name here] while you are on vacation – you can afford to spend time with your kids. Period.
Being a parent means so much more than birthing a baby. There’s a big difference between being called “Mom”, and earning the title. So many people look at a toddler and say ‘Oh, how cute!’ – then reality sets in and the universal equation that children = work comes crashing down once they have children of their own. Most people, I think, embrace the sleepless nights, and their children’s constant calling for attention, but others bail out and play pass the baby and shuck the responsibility.
As Dennis Prager says, “You can love your children but not be a wonderful parent.”
I don’t doubt for a second that the parents pawning off their children on others as a way to reclaim their personal freedom love their kids; but it doesn’t mean that they’re doing a stellar job of parenting. How can they when they’re hardly ever present in person with their kids to begin with; or shy away from the few days that they can spend with them one-on-one?
I really can’t sum up what I’ve said any better than Forest E. Witcraft has, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
I take it to heart. Do you?