Because it pays off! Just watch:
Busy, busy hands.
Lots and lots and lots of toilet rolls. 72, to be exact. Which I just happened to have in a giant bag in the back porch.
Lots of paint.
Add a judicious amount of clear packing tape, spatter-painted paper, card stock, and ribbon…
and you get advent calendars!!
Simple. Assembling them, which I did after hours, was a little time-consuming, but was done while I visited with my children — specifically, my eldest, visiting from Missouri with her lovely boyfriend — so that was fun. Each tube is stuffed with a chocolate or two scrunched up in a poof of tissue (just to keep it in the tube).
Pretty, effective, simple — and cheap! My kind of craft.
This used perhaps half my stash. Perhaps. Whatever shall we do next?
I have two dogs. The older is a largish (about 60 pounds) husky-lab mix with gorgeous amber eyes and a gentle demeanor. The younger is a mid-size spaniel mix of some description, with long feathers and a feistier disposition.
Little Ms Feisty gets in trouble a whole lot more than Ms. Biddable. You would not know that from their respective responses to the scolding.
The big one (Indie) snoozes on the window seat in the living room. The small one is counter-surfing in the kitchen, tip-toeing on her hind legs, nose at the edge of the counter, trawling for crumbs. Someone was making a ham sandwich there earlier, and maybe they left some in reach???
“Daisy!” I bark. “Down!”
Daisy immediately gets down and slinks away looking guilty. Indie slumbers on, unperturbed.
Nope. Not like that. Not at all. What really happens is this:
Daisy gets down, yes, but fixes me with a “What’s YOUR problem?” look, and casts looks back at the counter that indicate that the second my attention is diverted, she intends to be right back up there. If she had a middle finger, I’d be getting it. Indie, on the other hand, slips down off the window bench (where she is absolutely allowed to be) and slinks away. Her whole body radiates: “I’m so sorry, I’ll never do it again! Please don’t hate me!”
Dogs … Dogs, and toddlers. I have precisely the same dynamic with Daniel and Poppy.
Daniel slams a car into the table leg again, dinging the wood and making an unholy racket. “Daniel, I’ve told you before not to do that. I told you if it happened again, you would have to stop playing with the car. Now you need to give me that car and find something else to do.”
And we’re off. By the age of three, with two years of Mary-training under his belt, any other child in the daycare would hand over the car. Reluctantly, perhaps, but they’d hand it. But this is Daniel.
“Give me the car please, Daniel, and we’ll find you something else to do.”
“I don’t want to.”
I hold out my hand, he hides the car behind his back.
“I know you don’t want to, but I didn’t want you to keep bashing my table, and you did anyway. Give me the car.”
“Daniel, you can either give me that car on your own, or I will take it from you.”
“I don’t want to! I don’t want you to have the car!”
I pull his arm out from behind his back. He tightens his grip on the car.
“Then I will have to take it.”
I take the car from him and send him to the quiet stair — for defiance, not for bashing my chair.
“When I tell you to do something, Daniel, I expect you to do it on your own. If I have to make you, you sit on the quiet stair.”
Exit Daniel to the quiet stair, howling. (Where, surprisingly, he stays. The one rule he keeps without resistance. Weird, I know.)
So Daniel is Daisy — feisty and defiant.
And Poppy? Poppy is poor Indie, slinking away to hide in a corner. When Daniel is being scolded, or suffering some natural consequences, or howling in outraged indignation that Mary actually followed through on the promised consequences (which should not come as a surprise, geez) … Poppy suffers. Daniel is probably suffering too, in his own way, but that doesn’t bother me. That’s self-inflicted and well-deserved. But poor Poppy? She doesn’t deserve this level of stress and angst. And no matter how calmly I deal with the situation, it’s a conflict, and Poppy is stressed.
Nor am I always calm. Most times, I manage all this calmly. But some days, if it’s been the 47th repeat of this pattern in a single [expletive deleted] morning, my intensity cranks up jest a titch. Yesterday afternoon, I actually shouted.
If you knew me in real life, that would tell you a lot. I never shout.
I shouted. Daniel howled. Poppy ran to the far corner of the room, yipping out a strangulated, “O-oh, dear!”, and burst into tears.
Oh, the guilt.
I leave Daniel howling on the quiet stair. He’s had all the attention I have any intention of giving him for a while. It’s arguable he got more than he should have. His howls are not distress, anyway, but astonished and angry regret at having lost the battle. I take Poppy gently to another room where Daniels roars are somewhat muted. We snuggle. I comfort and soothe.
I promise her — and, more importantly, myself — that there will be no more shouting.
Tonight, when I have time and space, I will strategize.
For Poppy’s sake. For my own.
And, whether he believes it or not, for Daniel, too.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably female. (Most of my readers appear to be.)
You’re probably reading this on a laptop (or a tablet).
And, therefore, you’re PROBABLY IN BED!!! (Go, read. It won’t take long. Then come back and take my poll!!)
Are you back now? Am I right? I bet I am! Marketers wouldn’t steer us wrong!
So, just to test out this theory, I have comprised a little poll. Feel free to vote. Vote early, vote often! (If you choose “other”, you could leave a comment telling what otherness you’re up to!)
There. Wasn’t that fun?
And, moreover, are you suitably attired in pretty little tank top and underwear?
On a big, white, poofy comforter?
Because that’s HOW A LADY BEHAVES.
Poppy is explaining the mysteries of Christmas, and Santa Claus in particular, to a very interested Rosie and Daniel.
“No presents? If you’re bad, you doesn’t get any presents?” Daniel digs a bit deeper. I think the boy realizes he has some cause for concern here.
Poppy is firm. “No. No presents for bad children.” She lifts her shoulder and crouches a bit, places her hands beside her cheeks, spreads the fingers, her eyes wide and shifting from side to side, the very posture of sneaky watchfulness. As imagined by a three-year-old, at any rate. Poppy tells her stories as much with her body as with her words. It’s a treat to watch her in action. “Santa Claus watches you aaaaaalllll the time, and you got to be good, and if you’re not?” She stands up suddenly, straight and tall, and slaps her hands together, cleaning imaginary sins and misdemeanors off her palms.
“You don’t get ANYTHING AT ALL!”
I work in a daycare. I have worked in a daycare for closing in on two decades now. I have heard about Santa each and every year. Now, when I was growing up, Santa brought one present. One modest present, at that. The rest were from identifiable people in my life. The big present? The one I’d been waiting for with bated breath for ever and ever? THAT one came from my mother, thank you so very much. I’m thinking she wanted the credit for her efforts. And whyever not?! Let some imaginary dude steal your thunder? Pfft.
So, Santa was part of my childhood Christmases, but not a big one. Lots of other things stood out more.
Thus, I didn’t ‘do’ Santa much with my own children. It didn’t rob us of the joy of the season. At all. In fact, I’ve argued before that shifting the emphasis may even have improved it. (Not, of course, that you can’t shift the emphasis and still have Santa.)
Not that I’ve ever once even considered disabusing a daycare tot of their belief in Santa. That’s totally their parents’ call, and I support whatever decisions they’ve made.
This year? It’s because of Poppy, I know. That “nothing if you’re bad” conversation has happened routinely over the past couple of weeks. The message is obviously being hammered home hard from someone in her life, and there is no doubt it is being absorbed. And the more I hear it, the more it rings in my ears like a really obvious — and not very kind or loving — form of manipulation.
“Be good or else!”
Behavioural blackmail, emotional blackmail. A threat.
Not, I confess, that Poppy seems traumatized by it. She’s more excited, far as I can make out. Excited and intrigued. And, of course, there is no worry at all that her tree will be barren of gifts come Christmas morning.
(Which makes it a completely empty threat, doesn’t it? This is a good thing for her tender little psyche, but, as we all know, bad parenting strategy. Technically, anyway. I give this one a Bad Parenting pass, because it’s more a game than anything, and most kids figure that out soon enough. Has Poppy figured it out, or does she just not see how awful the reality would be, were the threat to actually happen? The latter, I’m quite sure. She doesn’t really get it, for all it intrigues her.)
There’s no worry at all, even if it were a real threat. She’s three, of course, but she’s cheerful, cooperative, friendly. She is in no way a ‘handful’. (*cough*unlike Daniel*cough, cough*)
Down through my daycare years, pretty nearly all the kids have heard about Santa. And let me underline, that though I’m not a huge propagator of the Santa myth, I’m not opposed to it. I’m neutral, I guess. I’m sure most children get the “better be good!” warnings, too, but no one has made as much of them as Poppy. No child, ever. In close to twenty years. Is this a function of her character — does she like the mystery, does it tweak her (greatly reduced) tendency to anxiety, is she duly impressed by the need to behave? Has she taken a mild suggestion and just run with it in a big way? Or is someone in her life really, really working this idea?
I think it’s the latter.
And, for the first time in my daycare career, Santa Claus is making me uncomfortable.
This week, I let a little wry humour peek out as I stepped into that conversation.
Daniel was looking a bit worried. “Santa won’t give you anything?”
I ruffled his hair. “Well, you don’t get anything from Santa, no. He’s sort of fickle that way. But the people who know you and really love you? They love you even when you do bad stuff. You will get presents from them.”
I tap Poppy on her nose. “And you, missy? You are not a bad girl. Of course there will be presents for you!!”
And if I’ve thereby completely undermined the Family Child Control Strategy for December?
I. Don’t. Care.
I told you yesterday of the my two interviews. Two interviews, two very different family styles. One couple, soft-spoken, a little reserved, cautious. The other high-energy, cheerful, gregarious. One couple dithered and dithered and could not come to a decision. The other took a day to think about it, then decided!
Yay for people who can make a decision!
We agreed to two probationary weeks, because of their child’s difficult experience in her first daycare. During the first week, mom would spend part of some days with us. Two hours the first day, half hour the second, then a regular drop-off (2 minutes) the third and final day.
During those visits, I am reminded that mom is loud, which, as long-time readers know, I find wearisome. But she’s so full of positive energy, I can put up with the loud. What is harder to take is that she interrupts constantly. Not only is that rude/aggravating, but she’s interrupting me while I’m answering questions or passing on information, so she’s only getting half the information she has requested and/or needs. Then she’ll ask me a follow-up question. A follow-up question which would have been answered already if she hadn’t interrupted me in the first place. She also doesn’t remember things we’ve agreed to, because, I suspect, in her head she’d already raced on to the next thing and had ceased to listen to me even as I was speaking.
People like this are exhausting. I make a mental note to follow up any conversation with an email, so we have necessary information in writing.
But that concern aside, the week goes well. Her little girl is a charmer — interested, easy-going, easy to soothe, curious, prone to smiles and laughter even when mummy isn’t around. She’s going to be fine. I’m really looking forward to having her in the group!
At the end of the first week, I get an email from the ditherer. The one who’d interviewed with me a month before, who now has a little over two weeks before first day at work. She’s wondering how the probationary weeks went with the other child.
Why? She still hasn’t signed with anyone! I am flabbergasted. This woman really can’t make a decision! I’m flabbergasted, and also a little concerned for her. I reply, explaining that we’re only partway through the probationary weeks, and suggesting with as much tact and kindness as I’m capable (not to worry, I’m good at tact and kindness!), that she needs to choose from amongst the available options, or she may find herself with no daycare at all.
Wow. Decisions are so hard for some people. Thank goodness for my almost-signed-on parents, and their ability to come to a quick, firm, decision!
A day later, I get an email from the probationary parent. Over the weekend, their child had been to the emergency ward with trouble breathing. It turns out she has cold-induced asthma. Alarming, to be sure, particularly that first time, but not something that can’t be safely managed. I’ve had kids with this condition before. For some it’s more intense than others, but it’s always been manageable.
Except, these parents, the ones who, you know, can MAKE A DECISION!!! Well, they’ve made one. Another one. They have decided … that they will not put their child in daycare at all.
Boom, done. Guess that’s the flip side of all that decisiveness, huh. Could they not have dithered, just a wee bit?
But, wait! I still have the ditherers, the ones who told me “I kept coming up” in their discussions of caregivers, the ones who, only the evening before, had not yet chosen a caregiver!
Feeling a tad sheepish, I send them an email. Are they still … ?
Guess what? The ditherers finally made a decision. In less than 24 hours since our last email exchange, they have signed on, paid up, and have a start date.
I am impressed by the dark humour of the universe.
I have two interviews a few weeks back.
Lovely, lovely baby boy. Smiling, cheerful, not at all shy, attended (as much as you can expect of a 10-month-old) to his parents. Dad was cheerfully friendly. Mom was harder to read, but I judged her quietness to be shyness/reserve rather than unfriendliness or hostility. The interview was quiet, calm, measured, but, I thought, friendly enough.
They needed care to start mid-December, a mere six weeks away. In this neighbourhood, that is as last-minute as it gets. With 12-month maternity leaves and a mostly professional clientele, spots fill up 4 – 6 months in advance, typically, often even more. These people should have been in a panic.
They weren’t. At all.
We interviewed, it seemed to go well, though, as I say, mom was reserved and hard to read, and it’s mom who matters. The vast majority of the time, she decides. When it’s a joint decision, she casts the deciding vote. I don’t know that, in 17 years, it’s even been the dad who made the decision. But even so, I thought it had gone well.
Days go by. I hear nothing. Given their deadline, this surprised me. When there are months to look, I might wait two weeks to hear back. With only six weeks till she’s back to work, I expected a quick turn-around. Maybe they’ve found other care? They must have found other care. (No, parents rarely call to let me know, so if I don’t hear, that’s my assumption.)
A week later, she emails. Can she have my references, and can she come and join me one morning, to see the other children?
Oh. Guess they are still interested. I reply to her email immediately with reference and a suggested time for a visit — in two days.
She comes. We spend the morning. She says some complimentary things about the children, their behaviour, my demeanor with them.
More days go by. I arrange an interview with family B. They want part-time care, though, and I’d prefer full-time. Family A needs full-time. Hoping to nudge mom A, I send her an email, letting her know I’m interviewing other families. (Yes, there was only one interview. I thought a plural might add a bit of urgency. Urgency which, I’m now realizing, she utterly lacks. Which is bizarre, people, bizarre. SHE NEEDS CARE IN FIVE WEEKS!!! She should be frantic.) She replies, saying she’s not surprised someone as warm and skilled as me has other opportunities.
Another week. Hm. Guess her “not surprised” email meant she’s moved on. She’s found something else, and she’s happy she hasn’t left me in the lurch. I didn’t nudge her as I’d hoped, I’d only eased her conscience. Well, poop.
But I do have another interview! And yes, they only want part-time, but I can get by with part-time. And their daughter is adorable, mom and dad are nice. We have a very lively, friendly, cheerful interview. Completely different style than family A. Family B was the one of the previous failed daycare, though, and they were a little gun-shy. Would their daughter adjust to daycare here? Even without the larger information I eventually received about the previous daycare, I was reasonably confident she’d be just fine, so I offered them two probationary weeks, at the end of which they could decide whether to sign on.
The next day — the next day! — they call back. They’d like to leave their daughter with me!! Our two probationary weeks will start the week after next.
I inform Family A that the space has been filled, probationarily. “Oh, that’s too bad. We were just thinking we were ready to begin to make our decision, and we really liked you. That’s what we get for waiting too long, I guess.”
Blink. Blink. Blink.
You were thinking of beginning to make a decision? Beginning? Thinking of? How many stages are there to this process?? How long were you thinking of taking … given that you have four weeks now before you have to be at work? I had a choice between a full-time child of ditherers, and a part-time child of decisive people. Well, maybe I did. Potentially, whenever they got around to making up their minds. Maybe.
Yes, I really needed to go with the client who could make a decision!
So, that’s that. But honestly, folk are strange!
I had an interview a while back with a family who was looking for care because their previous arrangement had not worked out.
Now, if you’re me, that’s a red flag. Or at least an orange one. There are many innocuous reasons why daycare arrangements might not work out, of course. Maybe someone’s work hours changed such that they no longer meshed with the daycare’s hours. Maybe the daycare provider became ill, or had to move out of the area. Maybe another child at the daycare was over-the-top aggressive and the caregiver wouldn’t give them notice. All sorts of things.
Or maybe, maybe this client is hard on daycare providers. Maybe they have the outrageously aggressive child. Maybe they’re prima donnas whose expectations of caregivers are extreme and unreasonable.
Sometimes that’s really easy to pick up. The client I interviewed a few years back whose interview with me was a long litany of vitriolic bad-mouthing of all her previous interviews? Wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’s chewed through half a dozen caregivers in the intervening years, utterly convinced of their unworthiness and her superiority.
But more often, it’s not. I always ask what happened with the last caregiver, but the answers don’t necessarily inform. “She wasn’t invested in the kids. She didn’t really connect with them.” What does that mean, really? More important, what hat does that mean to that parent?
I’ve seen uninterested, disengaged caregivers. I know they’re out there. It could be this parent has a valid concern. It could be their child was with someone who supervised only for physical safety, and otherwise ignored the children. It happens.
Or it could be I’m chatting with a complete helicopter parent, who doesn’t understand that not only is it not “neglectful’ to let your child play on their own and sort out small problems unassisted, but is actively good for them! The sort of parent who sneers when they see the nannies chatting together on the park bench, instead of scrambling about on the play structure with the children — the children who are perfectly happy playing with each other. Who imagines that a ‘good’ parent spends each one of the child’s waking minutes in close, enriching contact with their precious child.
It’s hard to determine what I’m looking at, when sitting in my living room.
In this case, though? None of the above.
Their child had been in a cooperative daycare, organized amongst five sets of parents, and including only the children of those parents. The little girl had just never settled in. Would cry the entire day. This went on for … well, I’m not sure how long. This parent’s tolerance of crying is extremely low (another cautionary flag), and I didn’t think to ask. If it was just a week, they moved too quickly. If it was a month, well, yes, time to look elsewhere.
I did explain that transitional tears are normal — though they very rarely continue all day long! I talked about how much crying, and how long, was within normal parameters.
“Maybe it’s because there were too many kids all the same age, all needing the same amount of care?” she mused. It could be. I gather there were 4 one-year-olds, all new to daycare, plus a couple older pre-school kids. (Which puts the enrollment over the legal limit for a home daycare in this province (5), I could have pointed out, but didn’t. Maybe a co-op daycare has different regulations? I don’t know.) I’m also surprised they could find a caregiver who was willing to take on that many one-year-olds, but then again, with the daily assistance of a parent, it could be do-able. Still, a handful, even so.
It was a few weeks later, talking with other caregivers, that I learned more about the previous daycare arrangement. From the other provider, I got a lot more details that I’d asked of my parents.
Five families had clubbed together to provide care for their children. That’s fine. However. They had not, as I had assumed, hired someone to care for the kids full-time, with each parent scheduled to assist on a rotating basis. I assumed it, because that’s how every co-op daycare I know works: full-time, professional, experienced staff, assisting (willing and motivated, but generally group-care-inexperienced) parents.
No. Each parent had signed on to care for all the children for a full day, in rotation. On their own. Solo. Ten parents, so each parent took one day off work every other week. The children would rotate with the adults, so that each parent would care for the kids in their own home.
I’m sure it looked good in theory.
With no paid staff, the costs would be non-existent. Any costs that did emerge would be split amongst five families. Ten heads for brain-storming problems, to offer support. Best, the children would be cared for by their parents! The kids would have the comfort of their mommy or daddy, in their own home, two days of ten.
From the kids’ perspective?
A strange environment, 8 days of ten. A different environment every single day of the week. A strange adult, several days of ten. (Some of the families knew each other socially, but not everyone knew everybody.) For the one-year-olds, three other one-year-olds.
I can only imagine the chaos. Ten people, with ten different interaction styles, expectations, rules, standards, tolerances. A new one EVERY DAY!!! Six or seven kids, heads whirling with all the strangeness: strange playmates, strange caregivers, strange homes, new toys. Perpetual strangeness, every day of the week. Had they kept it to one location, that would have been better, but the steady rotation of staff would still have doomed it to failure.
I’ve found it takes a 1-year-old three to four full weeks to become fully comfortable in care. (Usually three, four for some kids, more if the child comes part-time.) Three to four full weeks when every day is the same. Predictable. Consistent. Same people, same place, same toys, same rules/regs/expectations. A full month.
So. When none of those things are the same, day to day?
Chaos. Unending chaos. Only the most socially hardy could survive. Thrive? I’m not sure any kid could thrive in that.
All of this, moreover, managed and supervised by a parent completely inexperienced in caring for groups of children. (Of course they were inexperienced. Anyone with a breath of experience would have seen immediately that this wonderful idea was a disaster in the making, and refused to have any part in it. My assumption that there’d be two adults working together every day, I now saw, was an assumption made by a woman with a ton of experience tending groups of children.)
Picture it: A room full of disoriented, unhappy, overwhelmed babies and toddlers, supervised by a disillusioned, confused, overwhelmed adult.
So, no, I’m not surprised they ended up looking for alternate care.
I suspect the daycare tanked. How did I find out about this? Because the caregiver who told me the story had interviewed a different family from the same set-up, whose child “had just never adjusted to daycare”.
And they didn’t really know why…
Being a sex-positive sort, I am drawn to people who write intelligently about sex. (Sometimes it’s me! This post remains a favourite.) Dan Savage? Love him. Read him every week, follow him on Facebook. Laura Kipnis? Intelligent and provocative. Mary Roach had me in stitches with “Bonk!” (Lest I appear too pure/intellectual on the subject to be credible, I read a fair amount of lower-brow writing on the subject, too. There is a discreet shelf in Mary’s library that under-teens don’t have access to.) More recently, I’ve been enjoying Marina Adshade, whose slant on the subject — sex and money/economics — interests me.
So when links to a recent article in the Globe and Mail appeared in my Twitter feed, I hopped over to check it out.
Hm. Another salvo in the mommy wars. Oh. I am not enthused with the mommy wars, but maybe she has something useful to say? The title was not promising, however. A bit early-adolescent edgy, no?
I went through the points. Some were absolutely valid. “Someone actually said that to you? With a straight face? Unapologetically? Outrageous!!” It never ceases to amaze me that people feel it is their right to make unsolicited negative assessments of someone else’s life choices to their face. Bizarre. Who asked you? Rude, rude, rude.
A couple of the other points, though, it seemed clear to me she was misinterpreting, or likely misinterpreting, the intent of the person making the comment. They read to me like completely innocuous comments she’d received badly. And on one of the comments, I disagreed entirely. “No, Ms. Adshade, that really is a negative consequence of your life choices; you just have to own it.”
Moreover, and regardless of the validity of her personal list of slights, I was aware that each and every SAHM could come up with an equally valid, equally convicting, equally meaningful list of slights received at the hands of mothers on the other side of the income divide. No group of women has the corner on insults received — or dished out.
And by the time I got to the end of the article, I was primarily struck by the sheer defensiveness of the thing. This isn’t a well-reasoned, intelligent article. This is just a short shit list, adding nothing of substance to the debate. It’s same-old, same-old griping, stuff I’ve heard and read a thousand times before. Poop. I was disappointed.
Maybe the complaints are entirely valid. Maybe the sting of those comments is intended. There are bitchy, judgmental people out there, who are only too thrilled to trip through life sprinkling rancor wherever they go.
Maybe they’re not valid. Maybe the comments are innocuous.
The “I don’t know how you do it!”, for example, that comment which so annoys Dr. Adshade? I get that comment, too. A lot. Sometimes it’s pretty clear that the speaker can’t imagine how because the “it” she perceives revolts her. Whining, bickering, snot and shit all the live-long day. Why would any woman with a brain in her head, with the education to have other options, want to do that?
However, most of the time, unlike Dr. Adshade, I’m quite confident the comment’s sincere. They admire what I do for a living, and genuinely don’t think they could do it. I often suspect the “it” that people imagine I’m doing doesn’t bear much resemblance to the “it” I’m actually doing, but I also believe that yes, I do a great job, and that few people could do it as well.
I’m confident that a certain percentage of the people who’ve said this to Dr. Adshade genuinely meant it as a compliment. There are only so many hours in a day, and if 8 or 9 or more hours of your day are filled with a career, how do you do it all? Maybe they’re impressed by her energy, her efficiency. Dr. Adshade’s point that, with the income you make in those hours, you can hire out a lot of domestic tasks is well taken … but was it necessary to turn that fact into a shot at the stay-at-home moms? With that shot, she becomes the woman she’s objecting to, except on the other side of the war.
If you’ve complained about this comment, the question is, why does it bother you? Could be be the sting is not because the comment is barbed, but that the sting is, rather, entirely a reflection of your own insecurities?
No choice is without its downside. Whichever choice you make — work from home, stay-at-home, work away from home, work full-time, work part-time, whatever arrangement you devise — has benefits and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. I accept the downsides of my chosen career. I don’t deny them. I don’t pretend they’re not there. I don’t get angry when other people notice them. I accept them, because I think the benefits of my choices more than make up for any downsides. I own my choices, the pros and the cons.
Other people will see it differently. Other people will see the same set of variables and make different choices, because the variables carry different emotional and practical weights for them.
That’s fine. Their different choices don’t devalue mine. Not in my mind, anyway. If they want to believe that their different choice is superior to mine, or (worse) makes them a superior person/mother … well, okay. They can believe that. Doesn’t change how I view my choices. Or how I feel about my worth.
Generally, I believe, insults are unintended. “I was so surprised when I found out you do daycare!” said a new neighbour on our second meeting. “You look so …” She waved her hands up and down, indicating … what? My demeanor? My outfit? My radiantly intelligent face? I dunno. “You sound so well-educated and articulate!”
Yes, well. I am. I am also very happy with my chosen occupation. So the fact that she assumed only slovenly half-wits do it is … hugely offensive to me! How dare you demean me so! I am Outraged!!!
No, I’m not.
And I get that a lot. It’s not an occasional thing. It’s undeniable that there are some half-wits doing this job. I’ve met them. I have no idea who leaves their children with these women. Other half-wits, I suppose. It doesn’t matter. I’m not one of them.
What did I do about that comment? I laughed. I laughed that she honestly thought she’d given me a compliment. She genuinely meant well. I laughed that she could be so obtusely tactless, drop such a bomb into a conversation and have no idea she’d done so. And then, apart from a funny story to tell family and other caregivers, I forgot about it. It’s not a barb under my skin, constantly abrading.
But what if the sting is intentional? My working assumption, when someone is being deliberately insulting, is that that person’s insistence on making you feel bad about your choice suggests a level of uncertainty/ambivalence about their own choice. They can’t believe that their choice is a sound one without believing yours is inferior. Foolish, true, but human nature. At least, an insecure human’s nature.
The point is, I like what I do, I’m excellent at it, it makes good use of my skills, talents, and training, and I think it has value. That’s it.
Who cares? Who cares what my new neighbour thinks of my occupation? Who cares what that random woman at the bus stop things of your life choices? Or the other mother at violin lessons, or the swimming pool, or the soccer field?
Why do you care?
I am weary of thin-skinned women, on both sides of the income divide, who insist that everyone else admire and respect them at all times. Who see slights where there are none, who toss insults back when insults are perceived, and the whole thing just goes on and on and on. Endlessly.
Are you really such a precious snowflake that everyone else on the planet has to agree with your choices? They could — and yes, should — have the common courtesy to keep their critical opinions to themselves. But even if they won’t … so what? That only makes them rude, and even more deserving of being ignored.
If you’re happy with your choices, then someone else’s opinion/judgement on it, real or imagined, is irrelevant and will not sting.
If we all just let it go, stopped fretting about other people’s opinions, and got on with enjoying our lives, appreciating our own choices in all their good-and-badness, the mommy wars would die a quiet, and very welcome, death.