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Rule 6: Daycare is Not a Sin

Aug 8, 2008
Candice Blackmore has 14 years of marketing experience and is currently the Director of Marketing for a fresh vegetable processor in central California. She is mom to a two-year-old daughter.

From the moment that little "+" appeared I knew my life would change. Not for the cliché reasons many think when they get the same result, but for the simple fact that I work.

The decision to continue employment is complex for any family. From personal beliefs to financial ability, it is usually one of the more stressful aspects of parenting. Like countless moms before me, as soon as I became "visibly" pregnant, that question began to pop up: "Will you continue working?"

Growing up in my family, being a mom was the job and a career was somehow selfish. Today, my friends see working as part of life, like it or not. If we want to maintain what we currently have, keeping our job is our only option. For me, it simply came down to the fact that I enjoy what I do. Like others, I invested time, money and effort to achieve what I have. With my decision to continue my career after my child was born, came the inevitable (and unenviable) task of locating great child care.

I compare finding daycare to finding the right man...good appearance, well-mannered, responsible, trustworthy, clean, gentle-natured, caring and a-hem "affordable." As any working mom can attest, the search is part art and part science with a ton of intuition. Despite the weeks of disappointing searches through homes with dirty toys, bruised kids running in diapers, blaring televisions, bulldog populated yards (yes--pit bulls!) and questionable eating habits, I finally found someone that clicked with my child and me.

My daughter was 4 months old at the time. I was nervous at the thought of daycare, but I looked forward to returning to work. On our big day, with our bag of supplies ready, we headed out like excited kids on the first day of school. On arrival; my feelings changed. Many associate the term "separation anxiety" with children, but in this case, it was me. I lingered that morning going over everything I could think of. After reassurances that my daughter would be held, cared for and fed, I finally left.

I have to admit, that first day wasn't my most productive. I had overwhelming thoughts of guilt and could hear people talking, but like the muffled voice in a Charlie Brown cartoon, all I heard was "wohhh, wohhh, wohhh wohhh." I must have called the provider a dozen times. Is she crying? Is she alone in some swing? Is she hungry? Tired? Each time I called, my provider politely reviewed what happened since we last spoke, what they were doing, and what would come next. Somewhat ashamed by my behavior, I sheepishly thanked her for her time--again. Now, about that work...

A few weeks passed and my anxiety subsided. The calls lessened and eventually stopped as I grew more comfortable with the arrangement. Daycare was now a normal part of our day...a time for my daughter to play, to learn and be cared for by someone I trusted. It was also time for mommy to be productive outside the home and not feel guilty about it. My comfort with daycare is based on the fact that I trust my provider completely. I respect her and consider her a partner to our family. We worked together on potty training and giving up the pacifier, adopting each others techniques along the way. She would tell me when my daughter ate something new or liked a particular food so I could offer it at home. Daycare works well for us because of our trust and the collaborative relationship we have developed. And more importantly (to my employer at least) this was key to keeping me focused during the day.

Part of me feels guilty that I am not the one to experience certain things with my daughter. I also know that this is a great opportunity, and I am happy when she is excited to share her day with me. I have to admit, it does take a bit of "letting go." I've decided it is a healthy way for us both to develop as individuals and as a family.

I'm a better mom because of daycare, and she is a better child. I don't regret my decision a bit. Daycare is not a sin.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) of Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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