For Kids Only
As a working mom you seem to take on some different guilt than a mom who is not working outside the house. They have their share, we have shared guilt, but we working moms have our guilt that comes from working. If you like your job, like I do, and feel your career is important and that you want to work - well that is a therapy session that will put that psychologists kids through college. I love being a Mom and I enjoy spending time with my boys, especially now that they are interactive and beyond the crawl stage. They still need me and think I am beautiful, smart, talented and know a lot but are old enough to have conversations with. I happen to also have two very funny kids so there is a lot of laughter, singing in the car and general good times around here.
My first experience with daycare was at my job, great perk, went like this (after nanny decided that inability of child to sleep all day as he became mobile would interfere with her ability to join him in sleeping all day and quit with no notice); drop off, crying hysterical child, walk away as crying - hysterical mother, get called about an hour later to ask to pick up child who is giving self a headache crying so hard, go get child crying hysterically on way stopping at door, smile at child who is now holding on to the door to the baby area for dear life with giant breaths saying "ma ma". Oh yeah he had me, he was done, I found another nanny.
We were lucky to have some amazing women take care of our children when they were young. I did not think these women raised my children - they took care of them while I worked. They allowed me to feel some level of comfort while I went on with a career and a job I really liked. They were employees and trusted family friends all in one. They understood that I bathed, fed dinner and scheduled my children and respected the way we partnered to do that.
As I decided to pick a daycare I realized 1) how expensive child care is in the NY area regardless of nanny or daycare choice 2) how few options there are 3) how many rules there were in some of these centers that stressed me just reading about it - what would they do if say I was 10 min late as it was frowned upon 4) they were pleasant but the guilt seemed heightened because they looked too institutional for me. I know many parents who felt that day care is an option that gave them peace of mind when it came to safety - I felt I needed no nanny cams because I trusted that instinct when I hired the nannies we had. I was a bit dispirited when I went to my 4th day care walk through. The place was a house. A house - that was well maintained and turned into a daycare. No one lived there but it felt instantly better than the more generic places I had been to. The owner had kids who had gone through our school system, she had advice and tips and we had not even signed up yet. There was a feeling of comfort that I got - a transition from nanny to something that felt right for us. There was no crying on their part on the first day - there was moment when the older child did ask to "visit" his younger brother to make sure he was ok (umm younger brother was more comfortable and older brother really needed the visit more).
This is a wonderful place, a place where the boys have never cried to not go to. A place where though there is always a little guilt for not being there makes me feel just that much better for the choice I made. This is the place where children make up the majority of the school bus pick up, for their respective grades, to school and from school, adding a level of safety that this city raised child did not have in the bus - it seemed like it was evil waiting to happen in yellow. This is the place that teaches children to play with all ages that are there and where older kids know how to treat younger kids. The staff is wonderful and makes those children all feel welcome. I hear, along with other parents at pick up, the cries of "really - leave now? just a few more minutes". Today after a summer of the kids scattered to the various camps and travels they were back together. There was loud, loud laughter and hugging and the kids were all so excited to be back "home" at day care. They may love where they go for the summer but they come back gladly to the place that they all have friendships and takes care of them when the parents have to work. They have learned a lot by being there, a sense of charity through the owner's various projects that taught them to collect and give to others, to cook on Fridays, to do homework. They have learned to be glad to have a place where they get a hug if they needed and a stank eye when they don't realize they deserve it.
For Kids Only - the name really tells it all. It is a place for kids, with an owner who understands kids and wants to help make them into the type of adults that will make a difference in the world. They have solar panels, plant veggies and teach the kids to respect nature and the earth along with each other. They celebrate accomplishments like kindness. I will always wonder if I missed something by not being there for bus pick up and drop off but my boys seem to enjoy the time they have at daycare. They know I like work and I have to admit that I want them to respect the ability of women to make that choice as they grow up. They know their friends all have parents who are doing the best they can and to that end have formed friendships in a place where every parent smiles as they say goodbye and often sighs a little as they turn toward their cars (for they are glad the kids are fine but they miss them anyway). I am grateful for Wendy and her staff - for having a place that is For Kids Only.