When I told my boss that I was pregnant she asked me if I was going to stay home after giving birth. I laughed. Literally, I laughed. Weeks before I gave birth to my son, I was in hysterics because I knew that I was going to have to return to work and I didn’t want to anymore.
I knew I didn’t have a choice so I searched all over our community looking for the very best place to send him to daycare. I found a daycare center that had all the bells and whistles and plunked down tons of money to secure him a spot.
The very first afternoon I picked my son up from daycare, I had to fill out an accident report form because he had somehow managed to scratch his face about a hair’s length from his eye. Now that I’m three years into being a parent, I would have brushed it off. 9 weeks into parenting as I was, I flipped. I started my search for the next daycare that night. Once again, I was searching our community for a place that seemed suitable for him.
My son stayed at that daycare for 3 more weeks while I tried to find him a good spot. It wasn’t just the scratch that did me in. In those three weeks, he got sick 2 separate times. I saw countless people on duty taking care of him and routinely dropped him off only to see one of his teachers bring him to a baby swing immediately. They talked to me about my son like he was a burden because he was really tough to get to sleep and would wake easily. I left there on a daily basis feeling like I was failing as a mother because he wouldn’t sleep for them and because I wasn’t leaving him with people who really cared for him.
A small village does help raise my kids. I am exceedingly lucky for this, especially because our “village” has asked to participate in our family. My godmother, part of our village, hearing about our situation, offered to contact someone she knew who had children in a daycare nearby. She informed me it was a home daycare and I immediately had images flash through my head from what I thought I knew about home daycares. However, I agreed to meet with this woman because of who was referring me to her.
The home daycare woman, Anne (no, not her real name), was warm and welcoming when I toured her home. She answered all my questions and while we were speaking, asked to hold my son. She re-wrapped the crooked, beginners swaddle I had him in and quieted his fussing. I warned her about all the things his teachers at the daycare had told me about my son and she listened, clearly not worried. After careful consideration with my husband, we decided that this was the best place for our son.
3 years later, it is still the best place for my son and now our daughter too. They are loved and cared for at Anne’s house. My daughter has learned sign language from Anne so she can communicate before she learns to speak. My son knew his colors before he was 2 and now that he’s 3 he can spell and read a handful of words. My son knows all procedures involved in a fire or tornado emergency and practices them routinely at daycare. My kids know how to respectfully interact with other children. They get to be with each other all day. She keeps my husband in line when he drops them off too late in the morning. She routinely calms me down when I come in freaking out about something about them. Not a month goes by where I don’t become teary eyed at least once with sheer gratitude that this woman is in our children’s lives.
We love where we send our children. We have made an informed decision to place them under the care of an experienced and loving person. However, despite all of this, I am routinely questioned about our choice. Most common negative comments:
“Aren’t you worried about ____________ happening there?”
“But no one monitors them. How do you know they’re safe?” (Ha. This is totally false.)
“I knew someone who sent their kids to someone’s home and _______________ happened.”
These questions make me anxious initially and then anger slowly follows. My ego causes me to feel insulted, of course. Do you think I would intentionally put my children in a situation I am not fully aware and confident about? They also anger me on behalf of Anne and many other lovely home daycare providers out there. Not all home daycares are good, I know this. The initial daycare center we sent our son isn’t proof that all daycare centers are bad. I know this argument has been made and proven repeatedly but what situation in which you place your children is 100% guaranteed?
I love Anne and see her as part of our family as do the other families who bring their children to her home. My kids go to a home daycare. Yes, that is where I send my kids.
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