Four years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, my job didn’t offer maternity leave or benefits, and my husband didn’t make enough money for us to live off of. So I transitioned out of the corporate world and into the gig economy. I acquired enough clients, became my own boss, and created my own schedule that allowed me to bring money into my household but also be the primary caregiver for my kids (a new baby and a toddler). To this day I maintain that this was not only the biggest blessing for my family at the time, but it was also proof that, when faced with the impossible, moms can do pretty much anything.
Fast forward to a couple months ago. I was still neck-deep in my own business, but it had grown to the point where I was working 40+ hours a week while also still caring for my kids. While the oldest one is in elementary school now (pinch me) the youngest, at three-and-a-half, is still a semester away from Pre-K. So during the day I was juggling several clients, trying to parent a curious and attention-demanding threenager, and in the afternoons I was inundated with a first grader with homework, reading assignments, and all of the big feelings that come along with those things.
And I. Was. Exhausted.
So I sat down with my husband and we looked at our budget and crunched some numbers. We were able to afford full time childcare for our youngest, and so I unashamedly went for it.
Recently I saw a meme floating around Facebook that read, “We expect mothers to work like they don’t have kids and parent like they don’t have jobs.” And I have never felt more seen in my life, because this meme effortlessly proclaimed to the social media world the reality that I had been living in. Working moms get a bad rap for “paying other people to raise their kids” (insert gigantic, dramatic eye roll here) and stay-at-home moms get a bad rap for not contributing to their families (insert colossal eye roll here). And I’d been trying to do just that. I was working as if my kids weren’t home when they were, and I was trying to raise my kids amidst looming work deadlines. Everyone – my kids, my husband, my clients – got the short end of the stick. No one got the best version of me.
And so, as of January 2, 2019, my kids are in full time childcare and I regret nothing.
Save a few hours in the afternoons when my workday is winding down and my kids come home from school, I get to focus on one thing at a time. This means that I enjoy my work more (and get more done, obviously) and enjoy my family more. I get to focus on them more clearly and effectively. Instead of nodding uh huh and waving them away when they try and tell me about their favorite Thomas the Tank Engine episode while I’m on a conference call, I get to look into their blue eyes and ask follow up questions. “Tell me more about when Percy delivered the mail!”
I am so unbelievably grateful for this new approach to parenting. It’s bringing a fresh revival to our house, and we’re all so much less stressed as a result.
If you’re a working mom and feel guilty about having your children in childcare, I’m here to raise a fist and salute you in solidarity. Let that guilt roll off you like water on a duck’s back, sister, because it takes a village to raise these babies of ours.
And for the rest of you, it’s 2019, so let’s put this “paying someone else to raise our kids” nonsense to bed. That phrase is tired and shaming, and it has no place in the discussion about parenting. Period.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some train tracks to build.