As I dropped my son off to childcare the other day, I got chatting to another mum.
“Oh your baby is growing quickly – how old is she?”
“One, I plan on starting her here one day a week from January”
“Going back to work are you?”
No, I’m not. I haven’t worked outside the home for over 8 years since my second child was born. But my daughters went to childcare two days a week from 2 years of age. My 3-year-old currently attends three days a week, and all things going well in January my 5th and last child who will be 18 months old will start one day a week and increase slowly to three days.
The assumption I must work outside the home is a common one. Reactions are mixed when people find out I don’t – “good on you, I’d need a break from all those kids too” or the other end of the scale.
“You’re taking up a valuable spot for a working mother” I consider what I do work, and a very hard job at that. Interestingly enough, I have only ever heard this comment from women. Other mothers who should support mothers. Mothers who should get its hard work. I’m not taking anyone’s spot – childcare is for any mother who wants to use it.
“Playgroup is for mothers like you” Playgroup is not a break from your children. Playgroup is a hall with 20-40 other kids and a bunch of toys. If you’re lucky you get coffee and morning tea thrown in. You play with your kids and chat to other women. It’s interaction – but it’s not a break.
“Do you do stick your kids in care so you can go and do coffee and lunch?” I don’t drink coffee. I eat lunch but not at a restaurant during the week.
The truth is – I use childcare because I need a break from my children. I find motherhood hard, very hard. It’s demanding, it’s tiring and it’s draining. On childcare days I can’t wait to drop my toddler off. The freedom of only having the baby means I can get more done around the home. I can go to appointments I avoid like the plague when he’s with me. I can sit and relax when the baby sleeps and watch some trashy tv and read a few pages of a book I’ve been reading for months. It’s me time. I love him all the more when I pick him up – he’s had a day filled with running, jumping and interacting with 20 other kids his age. He’s played outside, done craft I am often too tired to do at home, and he’s happy. And because he’s happy, I’m happy.
And come January, when I drop my baby off for her first day there won’t be tears, there will be relief. Relief that I can have a child free day for the first time in years. I can do what I want, when I want for a day.
Who knows, I might go and sit in a 5 star restaurant and order a skinny black 2 sugar latte.