Childcare is one of the biggest stresses in a working mom’s life. I have been fortunate to have a daycare that I love for N, and now G, but that doesn’t mean that it has been easy. Anytime that something happens to one of my children in childcare, it hits the Achilles heal of any working mom: this happened because you weren’t here.
The first time N was hurt at daycare, he had only been there for one month and fell while pushing a truck on the playground. He ended up with a cut on his face that warranted a trip to the Emergency Room for stitches. I had no concerns about the daycare’s role in this injury, as I was actually amazed that nothing like this had already happened while in my care given how active N was/is. Rather, my guilt came from feeling so far from him at a time when he was hurt. Even though his teachers provided him with all the comfort he needed and he was already happy by the time they called me, I still felt sad that I wasn’t the one to give him a hug and bandage his wound.
While N’s injury felt like one that couldn’t have been prevented regardless of whose care he was in, G’s first daycare issue was a hazard that she could not have been exposed to had she been home with me. It brought all of my working mom guilt to the surface. Was I actually causing harm to my children? Is working selfish? In the end, I calmed myself down and realized that what I needed to do was problem solve how to minimize errors. We do this in medicine all the time. A mistake happens and we form a working group and perform a root cause analysis to address the problem and brainstorm solutions to prevent recurrence. So, I did this in an abbreviated form with my daughter’s daycare and this allowed me to feel more comfortable moving forward.
There will always be a little bit of the would they be better off with me question in my mind. Whether in the care of parents, grandparents, nannies, or daycare, none of us are infallible, which I often need to remind myself when my working mom guilt flares. Then, N will come home counting in French and Spanish or I will pick up G in the middle of her class puppet theatre and I am appreciative for the enrichment that high-quality childcare can provide in children’s lives.