I know I mentioned this way back in Lesson #1, but I wanted to use this post as a platform to discuss the issues of career, childcare and nannies in a critical way that I feel does not get enough rational discussion these days.
I’ve lived in the Midwest in my childhood, the East Coast for college and for 7 years after, and the Southwest for the last 7. There is a HUGE split in how people value career and raising young children in the Midwest and East Coast. Since the Southwest is such a mix of native Southwesterners and transplants, I’m not really sure I can comment on it.
Anyway, in the Midwest, I got the impression early on that it was selfish on your part if, as a woman, you had young children and did not stay at home to raise them and decided to work instead, especially if you did not have to work to support your family. The idea was that your kids need you and they won’t turn out quite as well if you are not there to give them enough motherly attention.
When I moved to the East Coast, I was shocked to hear the opposite: people told me that it was selfish on your part if, as a college educated woman, you did not focus on your career and make as much money as you can for your young family. The idea was that you want to take care of them for college, shelter them from debt, and make sure they have the stuff that makes them happy in the meantime.
Now, when I was in college, I met a young woman that had a nanny growing up. She remembered her time with her nanny happily as her nanny was a great caregiver. Her mother worked and did not wish to stay at home. When she grew up and her nanny moved on, she became close to her mother. I don’t think this young woman was hurt by the fact that her mother was not there to raise her as a little kid. Her mother was there for her when she was a young woman.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two reasons to work outside of the home if you have young children: 1) because you have to and 2) because you want to. Many moms do wish to be at home with their kids but it isn’t possible with the lifestyle they want or with the situation they are facing. BUT, some moms would be miserable at home. Would you really want a miserable person raising your children? I wouldn’t! You would want to find someone who loves the job if you want what is best for your kids!
Working at iTipArtists was invigorating in that I felt so much more capable and confident than I do at home some of the time. Tiny humans are not reasonable creatures. My children are sweet but they have definite ideas on how they want things and I work hard at establishing boundaries and gently yet creatively disciplining them. I’m not always so good at this. I have to learn it all as I go. It is exhausting and frustrating at times.
In the news and from our peers, we learn every day new ways in which our parent’s old parenting style was wrong, or how an ancient parenting style discarded long ago was right, or how a current trend is controversial. Or, some new way to do things that sounds great but no one has much proof is any good. Children are also very different from one another, and most of us as parents do not get the chance to learn how to parent on very many children. Going each day to work to something that you are good at can be a great way to recharge your emotional batteries before going home and facing the steep learning curve.
Personally, I feel I am lucky and enjoy being able to stay at home with my children. I also enjoy working (okay, I am a bit of a workaholic), but I don’t want to miss this time with them. I like hanging out with them. When they are just being them and are safely playing or learning, they are interesting and beautiful. It is wonderful to see how they are developing and even more wonderful to see them develop and find things they are passionate about, make friends, and grow into good people.
So, the lesson learned: nannies are not for me.
But they might be for you. As a woman, you can’t win this battle with everyone no matter what you choose, so just do what is best for your and your kids. I will join you in telling the people who are judgmental of your decision to suck eggs.