The opinions of others

This conversation happened on my way into work in the other day. I had mentioned to a colleague how it was getting cold and I’d had to put lots of layers on my son to send him to childcare. “How old is your son?” he asked. “Nearly two” I replied. “How many days a week is he in child care?” I told him five. “That’s a lot” he said. “But you must finish early to get him most days.” I gritted my teeth slightly as I responded I didn’t and changed the subject to a topic that didn’t unintentionally judge my parenting choices. Now, this guy is actually very nice and I’m sure the questions came from a place of wanting to be helpful/sympathetic/understanding( ? ). I’m sure it wasn’t to make me feel like a terrible mother for paying other people to spend more time raising my child more than I do. A similar thing happened to my sister and brother – in – law when they were buying shoes for my nephew to send him to childcare five days a week just after he turned one. The woman in the shop was trying to be supportive/sympathetic/ close the sale when she commented on how hard that must be and how young he was to be in childcare that much. This naturally made them feel like really awesome parents making all the right life decisions for themselves and their young son (sarcasm). I am actually lucky to be able to work part time. I work a 9.5 day fortnight and I start and finish early two days a week. The reality is that I don’t often get out at my early finish time those days and when I do I try and pick up some things from the supermarket, run administrative errands or go home to make Hugh’s dinner so I can spend more time with him when I pick him up from childcare rather than in the kitchen. My half day off a fortnight I spend looking after myself. I get my hair done if it’s needed, I get my nails done. But I also do the washing, clean the kitchen, try and do some groceries if it’s needed. So Hugh is in childcare five days a week. Some days I can’t wait to drop him off, other days I’m crushed we can’t spend the day together. Some weeks the guilt that he has been one of the first children there most mornings and the last one there most nights is overwhelming but sometimes that’s just the reality of a family with two working parents. At the end of the day it’s my choice to do this. The same way other parents choose to stay at home, or work three days a week, or start their own business or whatever is right for them. In the age of social media, unqualified and uninformed opinions are rife it’s easy to question everything you do. Everyone, even strangers feel like they have the right to offer their own two cents worth without a second thought. This might be to justify their own child raring choices but more than likely it’s given off the cuff and never thought of again. Except for the person who the opinion has been given to. They stew and question and carry the thought around with them. Sometimes that’s only a for a few minutes, some times it might be a few days until they can reassure themselves that they are doing the right thing for themselves and their family. I am very comfortable with the choices we have made to work and put Hugh into full time childcare. He actually loves it there with his friends. His educators are delightful and his beautiful smile when we get there each day to collect him is the best part of my day. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us. And that’s my two cents worth if you’re interested.

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