Before the Hubby and I got married, "The Plan" was to stay home with any children we may have and I would go back to work after they started school if I so chose. We both valued growing up in the country and not going to daycare. We both felt it was important to have a parent raising kiddos during their early years.
The reality though was a different thing all together. When we welcomed home our bouncing baby boy back in the Fall of 2009 I was the only one with a full-time job. The Hubby was still going to college. He was helping out at the farm during breaks and some weekends, and of course had his one weekend a month commitment. It wasn't feasible for me to quit my job and stay home. We lived on a tight budget. The Hubby took our pride and joy to daycare while he went to class, and was home with him the rest of the time unless he picked up a job on the side.
While I was still pregnant we also faced the news he was going to be deployed to Iraq. He reacted by stepping back from school and spending more time with his new little family, especially once our little bundle arrived. A few days before Christmas we got a phone call that the deployment had been cancelled. I held my 2 month old baby tight and decided it was the best Christmas present I had ever gotten.
Here I am now, nearing 3 years later. Still working full time with TWO babies and the Hubby really is deployed. Here I am looking for daycare again. Here I am the mother of a 2 year old who has been kicked out of daycare. *Sigh* I took the news bad. My daycare provider didn't feel that the Toddler was "meshing" well with the other kids and that because I "parent differently" it wouldn't work out. I didn't handle it in the grown up professional way I would have liked to. Instead I cried my eyes out....and I couldn't stop crying. I cried all of the drive home, and I cried all that night. In fact my Toddler was begging me "Mommy, you need stop crying now". I couldn't stop and I couldn't eat...and I couldn't sleep. I cried so hard I started to throw up. The boys went to bed early and I just sat on the couch and bawled.
Was it time to pick out an orange jumpsuit and quarantine my offspring from other human contact? Was I really such a horrible parent that I had already ruined my child's life at the mere age of 2? Should I have backed down from my belief that only the child's parents are allowed to spank him? Do I really have the only toddler in the world that has a hard time sharing toys and squabbles with other little kids? Is his behavior extremely different when he is out of my sight? Is he unmanageable? By no means am I anti-spanking, by no means have I never spanked him...but I have found it isn't necessary for every indiscretion because a firm voice or reminder has pretty much always resolved any situation in the past. Is everyone's definition of spanking the same? Should I discipline or spank him on the spot if I hear he was naughty earlier in the day? Am I wrong in thinking the corrective behavior needs to happen at the time of the incident, not later in the day because he isn't old enough to put the two actions together?
I felt like the worst mom in the world, I had already been questioning my abilities to parent my kids for a year on my own. Already worried if I was doing a good enough job, while also struggling with the guilt that I wasn't home with them. Aren't all good mom's home with their kids? Would they be better behaved children if I was home with them? After all, in our "plan" we decided that was the best possible decision for our family.
After a couple nights to sleep on it, and questioning past childcare providers and those who have watched my kids (including other children with them). I was informed "congratulations you have a toddler". The consensus was that he is a smart, active, aggressive type A personality little boy. He pushes boundaries and limits, but they all said it took just a reminder or explanation to resolve it. That he actually listened and responded well. Was I really going to let one negative opinion override all the positives? I sure felt like it at the time Do I show my children love, teach by example, and kept them clean and fed? yes. I was reassured I was doing fine. Is fine good enough?
In reflection, the happiest I have been with childcare was when the provider had similar parenting views as myself. Wouldn't it just make sense that it also makes it a better fit on the providers end?
I will always deal with guilt for not being at home with my children, I will always have doubts and questions regarding if I am doing a good enough job. I will always wish I could stay home with them (maybe after this deployment we can re-evaluate). But you know what I decided? I don't need to feel guilty for working, or even enjoying working outside of the home. My children are still loved. They can still have the upbringing my husband and I agreed on. The Toddler has already learned please, thank you, you're welcome and excuse me. They pickup toys at the end of day, put books back on the bookshelf. They follow me around to "help" me around the house, whether its unloading the dishwasher, throwing clothes in the washer, or helping stir supper. The neighbors seem to think they play good with their children, and both boys would rather be outside than watching TV indoors. They may not be perfect, they may have tantrums, and they may need reminders on how to behave. They are still learning. They may be spoiled more than they would be if the Hubby was home, but they are loved beyond all measure. They get hugs, kisses, and I-Love-Yous everyday. We say morning prayers together, and the Toddler reminds me if I forget. I may not be the best mom, but I am doing my best. Watching over my boys as they sleep, I know in my heart that my best is good enough.