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 | , ,


  1. You do realize that at home he’s telling his mom that “Mary would let me have candy for breakfast” and other such nonsense. All is as it should be.

    LOL I’ve had occasion to tell parents, “You’d be AMAZED what you let happen in your house“. I know when I’m being scammed… thankfully, most of my parents do, too!

    Comment by jwg | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thank you, Mary. Really, I have learned a lot of what-is-not-worth-stressing-over from your blog – I wish I’d had you around when my two were a bit younger!

    You’re so welcome. This is always good to hear, that what I write doesn’t just amuse, but actually helps someout out there.

    Comment by daysgoby | June 23, 2009 | Reply

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

    Absolutely true. I love the effect it has on our relationship. It shows my kids that I’m not the only one who expects rules to be enforced.

    Of course, sometimes, I have the same issue you have with Timmy and my kids, only it is Daddy who’s wonderful.

    “Daddy, did you know Mommy thinks there’s sunshine in your butt?”
    “No, what I said, dear, was in fact, ‘The sun does not shine out of daddy’s butt. Eat your peas.'”

    Comment by ktjrdn | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  4. Mary – As you well know, I firmly believe ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and you were a pillar of that village for Darcy. Have you tried to introduce Timmy to hockey – great distraction / obsession for some kids 😉

    Ha! My home is only just recovering from two solid years of hockey. I think we’ll let well enough alone…

    Comment by Darcy's Mum | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  5. Ah, if only I lived closer to your daycare Mary! I love your insights and stories and I absolutely agree with the other commenters. Timmy is absolutely going home to his mom and telling them how Mary does it – I would bet money on it 🙂 Funny kid.

    I’ll bet you’re right, and I need to ask his mother about this. Perhaps Friday, when they’re all staying after hours for a glass of sangria. Should make for interesting conversation!

    Comment by Susan | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  6. Little ben would always find the most expensive toy in the shop, look at me like the cat from Shrek and say ” you have to buy this for me, my mum says I have to have it…” never worked, he didnt like it when I laughed!

    Devious little things, aren’t they?? In a sort of ham-fisted way…

    Comment by jenny | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  7. I helped as a volunteer at the village primary school for years. The trickiest thing to deal with was when a child said “I wish you were my mother.” Not all children have the happiest home life, I’m glad your charges do.

    True indeed. That’s a heart-wrencher. Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by Z | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  8. Occasionally my neighbour and I share the task of meeting our kids off the bus from school if one of us won’t be home in time to do so. The other day, this was my job. When the children got off the bus, her youngest one complained that it was too hot out and asked to play inside. I told her that it was a beautiful day and we could play in the shade of the trees in the backyard. This darling little four year old screamed “Why are you being so mean to me?? My mom always lets me play inside!!

    Hmmm. She also didn’t like it when I reminded her that I’m not her mom!

    Playing OUTSIDE??? Oh, the horror! How COULD you??? (Which is generally how I react to the ‘you’re so mean’ comment. Back of hand to fevered brow, the works.)

    Incidentally, just wondering what you make of McGuinty’s announcement of full day learning ? Apparently, Dr. Charles Pascal has been appointed to plan the strategy for this.

    “Full-day learning” is simply a euphemism overlaid with pretentions of superior educational merit to distract from its real meaning: freebie daycare.

    Comment by karmacoy | June 23, 2009 | Reply

  9. I’m an SAHM myself, but – and I realise some find this scandalous – I take my youngest to a creche two days a week. It’s my insurance against going completely insane. And it allows me to go to the gym/hairdresser/anywhere I like.

    She absolutely loves the people who look after her there. She often asks when she can go there again. When I was telling a SAHM friend about this, she felt sorry for me, and said “but you know she loves you more, right?” I never even considered this could be a bad thing. Surely my children loving people other than their mama can only be a good thing?

    I know I will always be the mommy and come first, but I love it that my children adore their teachers/carers/grandparents/etc.

    Love is not a pie, which can only be sliced up so many times before it’s gone. Love recreates itself. The more you give, the more there is.

    Comment by Mwa | June 23, 2009 | Reply

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