I’ve read about them. I’ve experienced them ‘from a distance’… from the comfort of my desk chair and safely behind my computer screen. I’ve heard about the upset that they have caused in the articles I have read since becoming a mommy myself. I’ve sympathized with complete strangers and, every single time I have wondered, “why would someone bother saying/doing that to another mother?”. How hurtful! What’s the point?
I have to say though, that I was pretty sure I would never actually experience a bashing of my parenting choices firsthand.
Not because I feel that I am doing everything ‘as I should’. Not because I believe all my decisions and actions to be ‘the right ones’. None of that at all. I guess I just assumed that no one would express their opinion so … forcefully?… when it comes to how I am living my life and how I am raising my children, mostly because I believe so strongly that we are all doing what is best for our unique situations and our respective families. Aren’t we all doing what we feel is truly best for our children and our family?
I’m guessing (hoping?) some people just don’t think about how they might affect another before they speak. Or maybe sometimes, we say things by mistake, and wish we hadn’t. Sometimes though… it’s on purpose. It’s intentional and it sure is upsetting!
And it happened to me yesterday.
A little bit of background…
I work on-call as a teacher (currently on a personal leave from my full-time position to have more flexibility for the sake of my other work and our family). I also run this site, North Shore Mama, which is both a passion of mine and a way earning an income (a decision I made, again, so that I would have more flexibility for the sake of our family). I am also planning on launching another business, which I can’t wait to share someday soon. As a result of the many ‘work’ hats that I wear (happily!), we have our girls in full-time daycare.
My choice to work is not the only reason our children attend daycare though! My husband and I recognized early on in our eldest daughter’s life that she thrives off interaction and being surrounded by other children her age. It just so happens that our youngest daughter is equally as social. I think it’s great. It’s positive. There is so much I love about that. But, when I was home with the girls all day, everyday… I couldn’t keep up with the demand for attention and interaction. It was sucking the life out of me, literally. Both the girls and I are SO MUCH better off with the daycare route. This is a decision that we made because of how well we know our children and how well I know myself as a person.
So here is what happened…
I got called for teaching yesterday and was chatting away with the other teachers at lunch time. And that’s where it all went down. Where I was suddenly questioned and accused and shamed for my decisions.
A teacher, at the school I was at for the day, asked me casually if my mother was caring for my girls while I was at work. I answered with, “no, our girls go to daycare”, with a smile on my face, because at this point, it was still just friendly conversation. (Though, I now know that her question was rhetorical).
What happened next surprised me and confused me and made me feel… nothing less than awful.
From one mother to another, this woman offloaded on me.
“OH. You put your children in daycare?”
“Why would you do that?”
“I could never imagine STRANGERS caring for my children when I know it should be me.”
“Can’t you just stay home with them?”
“So, you’re pretty much not raising your children?”
All these comments AND MORE said with extreme disgust on her face. Disgust directed at me, for the choice I have made for my children.
It. Was. Terrible.
We are all entitled to our opinions. We all have a right to think the way we want to think and believe what we believe. But, what I BELIEVE… is that, as parents, we are all doing everything in our power to be the best parents we can be. I believe that looks different from one family to another to another to… every single family situation!
We are all different. It is something to be embraced, not criticized. We should be supporting each other, because parenthood is a challenge and challenges are made easier with the support of others.