I have a request to all the working moms out there, a plea from the very depths of my soul:
Can we please, PLEASE stop saying that other people are raising our kids just because we work?
Photo used under Creative Commons from Lachlan Hardy
I get it. And I’ve been there, done that, felt those emotions. We feel bad about the time away from our kids. We hear about it from our family/friends/coworkers/random strangers in the super market. We mourn the hours spent earning a paycheck instead of spent teaching and crafting and playing and mothering. We often feel guilty for not being there every minute of every day.
But the idea that someone else is raising our kids is one that we should be fighting against, not perpetrating ourselves.
Parenting and raising a child aren’t just about 24 hours spent together. Parenting isn’t a job to clock in and out of, one that we only get credit for during certain times. No, raising a child is an ongoing endeavor, one that begins the minute we are handed our babies after birth to the day they leave home as “grown-ups” (and one could argue, beyond that as well).
Just because we put our kids in daycare or with another caregiver doesn’t mean we aren’t raising them.
This whole idea drives me batty. We don’t say that someone else is raising kids who go to kindergarten. We don’t say that someone else is raising kids who are in 3rd grade, or 7th, or 12th. Does that mean that raising your kids ends when public school starts?
“Here’s your backpack, and your glue stick, and good luck with the world kid, because my job’s done?”
No. No, we don’t. This argument only comes up with young kids, but the reality is that raising kids isn’t just about when they’re young. So if we’re still raising them when they’re in school—state mandated school, that is—why not when they’re little? If sending them to school isn’t considered outsourcing parenting, why is sending them to daycare considered abandoning our duties?
The reality is that we are still raising them. Yes, they may have extra hands to help them learn certain things, and they may get certain skills from a caregiver, but those are not the entirety of raising a child. Raising a child goes beyond the hours between 8am and 5pm in the years 0-5—heck, it goes beyond the idea of hours at all. Instead, it’s about a long-term role, where we instill values and teach everything from language and history to family and morals. Our children may have a lot of people helping them learn those things, but at the end of the day, we’re still the ones who get the ups and downs and joys and pains of what RAISING THEM means.
So ladies, please. Honor and acknowledge your feelings about being a working mom. By all means, be sad at what you miss, or frustrated by the system we’re stuck in, or envious of the caregivers who spend the working hours with your children. I know I do, often.
But please, PLEASE don’t ever forget that YOU are still raising your children. You are the one that they will look to for help. You are the one they will want to please. You are the one that they will thank when they’re old enough to look back on their childhood.
YOU are their mother. Period. Please stop saying otherwise.
P.S. I obviously think the rest of the world should stop saying this ridiculous thing as well. It’s hurtful, lacks any understanding of the different roles that mothers can (and DO) play in and out of the home, and besides that I clearly think it’s a load of nonsense. But I also think that the moms who are saying this about their OWN situations need to be the first people that drop this language. I’m sad to say *I* used to say this, and not in a joking manner, and this week alone I’ve heard or read five or six other moms do this. We have to stop beating ourselves up over something that isn’t reality!
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