by Leki Roots
Meeting up with my NCT friends is always a mixed bag. Whilst I love that we shared so much with the birth of our first children, the various paths we have taken in the 2 years since have shown some differences. Whilst that is no bad thing and enriches our group and friendship, one fact cannot be avoided. I am the only stay at home mum amongst us. Of course this is not an issue to anyone in the group, but whenever the topic of childcare comes up, which it invariably does every meet up with conversations such as “How is Seb getting on at nursery” or “Charlottes key worker has changed” they all always end the conversation with… “I’m glad he/she goes to nursery though. I think it’s really good for them”
Every time this happens I don’t say anything as I know what a difficult decision it must have been to go back to work and have to be separated from their child, but I can’t help but feel that if I were to say “I’m so glad I stay at home, I think it’s really good for my children…” that I would be seen as being rude. In fact I wouldn’t even say that to my closest friends as I feel that this would make them feel that I have judged their decision. So why is it ok for them to say this to me? And why do so many people truly believe this? Is it a statement of self-preservation to alleviate their guilt? Do they truly believe a child as young as 10 months old benefits from time away from their parent(s). Why is independence a quality we desire and foster in young toddlers? Are they actually right and me staying home with my children is denying them some social benefit?
I can’t help but find this thought unsettling at best and desperately sad at worst. Why is society so keen to get mothers back to work at the earliest opportunity and why do so many women buy into it, believing this actually benefits their child.
So this is what I wish I could say… I feel so strongly that I have had children and I want to be the one to be there to share in their early years with them. I want to be the one who taught them to use the toilet, I don’t feel this is an inconvenience that is better taught by a childcare provider. I want to watch them take their first steps, to hear them learn new words, to explore the world around them. In fact I can’t think of anything more rewarding or fulfilling then helping another human become everything they can be because I believe in them. Being at home with my children means I never miss any of these moments. There are days that are challenging, exhausting and moments when a minute to myself feels like a spa break. Yet I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Of course I’m not suggesting working mums don’t want to see these things with their children but life is all about choices. And to justify having young children in childcare as good for them just doesn’t feel right for me. This was not a financial decision for us.My husband works in the public sector and the wage we live on just covers our outgoings, but we find a way and make sacrifices, because we will never get these years back and I don’t want to miss them.
There is so much more I can say on how frustrating it is when working mums tell me that they need to ‘use their brain’ or ‘I look forward to nursery days’ or ‘I just couldn’t be a stay at home mum, I’d go crazy’ but that is for another time. For now, thank you for listening to my view.