It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Who’s on top?

“Daycare interferes with the parent-child bond.”
“If a child is spending nine hours a day with someone else, that will affect their relationship with the parent.”

There are those who believe these statements.

Now, I was a SAHM, a homeschooling SAHM, for years. If a family decides they want a parent home with their children, if a parent decides that’s what he/she wants to do? I’m totally onside. I loved, loved, loved being a SAHM. It was, without doubt, the time in my life when (awful marriage aside), I was happiest and most fulfilled.

(Another aside: I don’t believe ‘parenting is the hardest job in the world’. I think it’s one of the most important, and certainly not without its challenges. But not the hardest.)

And, for many years while I was a SAHM, I would also have ascribed to those beliefs. How could I possibly give up so many of the hours I spent with my child each week and not have it impact negatively on my relationship with my child? It only made rational sense.

Thing is, love isn’t always rational.

I am fond of my wee charges, and they of me. We toss around the L-word freely. There are hourly hugs and kisses and snuggles. There are shared smiles and pats on heads and unexpected gifts. There’s a lot of love in my household, and it’s wonderful.

However, in the grand heirarchy of relationships, I come a solid second to mom and dad, and everybody knows that. Heck, I’m probably well down, after grandparents, aunts, uncles, and maybe even certain neighbours and family friends.

Which is why I’m not surprised when, now and then, I’m compared to mom or dad … and found lacking. Sometimes, we know, they’re totally trying to scam me. But sometimes it’s quite sincere. And mostly, since they’re supposed to love mom and dad best and it’s totally no skin off my nose, I agree with them. Or, if it’s a matter of discipline, I simply remind them that I’m not mom or dad, and it’s okay to do things differently.

Usually, it’s an occasional, passing thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a child who did it chronically.

Until Timmy.

For the last few weeks, every single day, that boy has been delighted to inform me of the multitude of ways in which mummy does it better, stronger, faster, smarter, nicer… than me. I like Timmy. I like his mother. But this? Is getting old.

We are walking through the park. We see the small floating dock that juts out into the river, perfect for sitting on and dangling your feet, just about the right side to step into a canoe. It’s a nice dock. A friendly dock.

Don’t know who that woman is…

“Mary?” Timmy looks up at me. “Can we go out on the dock?”

“No, sweetie. I can’t safely take four children out there.” (Well, I could if they were all three- and four-year-olds, but not with a four, two almost-twos, and a one-and-a-bit. I’d give it 12 seconds before someone was in the river.)

“MAMA takes me out onto the dock!” He’s not angry. He’s just informing me of the wonderfulness of MAMA, and particular, MAMA’s superior parenting prowess. As he did already today, about half a dozen times. As he has done, many times per day, for weeks.

“Yes, I’m sure she does. How many children am I looking after today, Tims?”

He does a careful count of himself and the three others. “Seven.”

“And how many children does mama have to take care of?”

He looks around himself, considering. “Me! One!”


We proceed along the path. Point made, I feel better.

“CAN we go on the dock, Mary? MAMA takes me.”

See? Parents have nothing to fear! Nothing!

June 23, 2009 Posted by | controversy, daycare, parents, Timmy | , , | 9 Comments