Friday, April 22, 2011

Is my baby really better off?

The last few months I've been totally content staying home with Julia (see: lack of blog posts describing my thought process in agonizing detail), but now I'm starting to swing the other way. I had a few conversations with friends of mine, who do not have children yet but are planning to start trying in the next few years, and all of them plan to continue working. Setting aside my shame/guilt/embarrassment at having a pathetic career trajectory, it also made me question whether Julia is really better off at home with me versus in a quality day care.

I have this picture of day care as a happy, colorful place where the children sing songs, learn Spanish, play with blocks, have storyhour, and are generally stimulated and mentally active all day long (with perfectly-timed restorative naps, of course). I was never in day care myself, so I'm basically just making this up based on my early experience with preschool. But it's a far cry from what happens to Julia here at home. She wakes up, we cuddle and maybe read a book or two, she spends time in her jumper, we play on the floor with the same set of toys we did yesterday, she spends time in her exersaucer, she has a few naps, we go somewhere just to get out of the house and look at different things, and then Daddy comes home and takes over. I feel like I spend way too much time vegging out - pleading exhaustion - and not near enough time reading, singing, talking, playing, etc., with my child. If I sit her somewhere to play by herself to get housework done, I feel guilty for not being with her, and if I neglect the house, R comes home to shambles and I'm still exhausted and feel like I didn't do enough anyways.

Would Julia be better if she went somewhere where professional child-care people took care of her during the day? I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just making this up as I go along, and I'm afraid she's suffering for it. I mean, I know she's not suffering, but am I stunting her intellectual growth? I struggle to remember the names of things (spatula = big spoon flipper thingie) (I blame hormones, btw) so how awful is her vocabulary going to be? How much can I really read to her when all she wants to do is chew on the book? Do you know how freaking tiring it gets narrating your whole day to an unresponsive listener? "Oh look Mommy's going to go empty the dishwasher! Oh here comes the doggie! The doggie's drinking out of her water dish - splash splash splash!" I hate to admit how often I just trail off because I can't keep it up any more. Or I sit there reading the newspaper (silently, to myself) while I eat as she plays. Do I have a totally warped conception of neglect?

Oh crap I don't know.

Here's some photos of the doll to make up for the boring depressing words:

Not so sure about this outdoors thing.

These two crack me up.


Seriously, why are we here Mom?

Still reading. Still on that first page.

The inevitable end to reading.

And then Daddy comes home and we get the first smiles of the session!


  1. She's so precious!! I showed the picture of Julia eating her book to dad and dad went, "yup! Devours them just as fast as her mom!"

  2. I think you just have to know that you are doing the best you can and trust in that. Hang in there!

  3. Is there a way you could give daycare a trial run, like maybe once a week or every other week? Just something to see how she reacts (and to give you a break every now and then).

    One aspect to consider is that putting your child in day care exposes them to the germs of all the other kids, so you run the risk of her getting sick more often. (My mom worked at a daycare briefly when we were kids and she was sick pretty much the whole time as a result.) Also, you might want to investigate how much attention kids Julia's age actually get in day care, especially when there are several kids that workers are trying to monitor. I mean, there's a limit on what you can try to do with a 6 month old in terms of teaching and activities, and I'd be shocked if Julia was "missing out" on anything by getting to spend all day with her mom at this age.

    Personally I think you're probably doing a splendid job on your own, but if you're doubting yourself maybe you should give it a try to see if it's the right choice for you.

  4. I was a nursery/day care baby and I think I turned out just fine. From what I can remember (at age 5) I had a great time. Lots of different types of play stations and learning. I never went to kindergarten. Going to a learning daycare plus my mom teaching me when she was home had me more than prepared for 1st grade. I think it helps socialize your child and gives mom a break to feel like a grownup. A happy mom makes a happy baby.