Before I begin this, I wanted to provide some background. A few months ago, I decided to begin the process of job hunting, 6 months after welcoming my third child. I am fortunate enough that the choice to go back to work was a personal one. To my surprise, the first application I put in, resulted in a job offer from a Fortune 200 company, with a six-figure salary. I accepted and a start date was set. I was also fortunate enough to find a local faith-based daycare provider, through a friend-of-a-friend. But, something in my heart kept saying something wasn’t right- that “this may not be the best decision for you and your family at this time.” After much soul searching, I declined the corporate offer and informed the daycare that my son would no longer be attending. I cut a check to the daycare for the months payment, on top of our deposit, and went about life as it had been. Then, I was met with a scathing voice mail from the daycare provider and I decided to write an open letter…in defense of all moms who have been where I am.
I wanted to thank you in advance for your voice mail this afternoon. I am so sorry we could not connect. I have to say that I was honestly surprised to hear your tone and words of your voice mail. You said “How could I?” and that I was “unfair” and “unkind” and most importantly, you called me “irresponsible.” How does one respond to that? My faith…tells me to respond with truth.
I am “unkind.” Hmm… well, in my heart of hearts, I had only the best intentions, as any mother would. I vetted you out through my community of mothers. I believed that a faith-based daycare provider would be the next-best-thing in terms of care for my precious son. But, while on vacation a funny thing happened. Like most kids his age, my son came down with a fever. He was lethargic and all he wanted to do was sit in my lap and be snuggled all day. I looked at him sleeping on my chest and thought of the previous years with my other two children, where working was a necessity. I (like many mothers) had faced a semi-sick child at 6:45 AM and thought…”Will he be ‘OK enough to go to daycare today? I can’t miss another day of work.” Now, as I sat there holding my sick 10 month old, I thought about how “unkind” it would be to give him Tylenol and send him to daycare, while I went off to work, hoping the the phone would not ring at noon, when the Tylenol wore off and I was in an “important” meeting.
I thought about my other two children…my daughter who faced a severe health scare earlier this year; the pain and humiliation she went through at school every day during her recovery. The countless numbers of times I had to drive to school in the middle of the day to administer her medicine, and the times I cried in the school parking lot when I saw her sitting alone at lunch, because kids were so scared of the visible side effects of her infection. How I could tell what kind of day she had by her body language and the look on her face when she approached the car, at parent-loop. How I played Taylor Swift “Shake It Off,” on repeat on the bad days, while we drove to get frozen yogurt in the dead of winter, and I choked back tears behind my sunglasses, while she sang along in the back seat…smiling back at me. How “unkind” it would be for me to miss helping her in those moments. I thought about my other son, who had begun sports and so desperately wanted to look across the field and see me cheering him on. Yes, missing that for my own ambitions would definitely be “unkind.”
And then, I thought about me. My decision to not go back to work was “unfair.” You are correct. In some ways, it was unfair to me. After much soul-searching, prayer and reflection, I decided to put my desires on hold, to take care of my family. I will readily admit, that I have that luxury, but it does not come without a price, in some form or another. But, it is a price I am happy to pay at this moment in my life, and in the life of my family. As a “woman of faith,” I would hope you would understand this, without passing unjust judgement.
“Irresponsible.” Well, with all due respect…How dare you? Frankly, you don’t know me well enough to make an assumption of that magnitude. I find it irresponsible for you to have the audacity to tell a mother who struggled with her own personal aspirations and the juggling a young family- that choosing to be home with her family, over a career and placing her child in your care, is “irresponsible.” My loyalty and my responsibility is to my family. Not you. My son was a “slot” you will readily fill, but I cannot get back the time I would loose if I made that decision, at this moment in my life.
Most of all, I really just wanted to say thank you. In the days prior to your voice mail, with shaky hands and butterflies in my stomach, I hit the send button on an email resignation letter, for a job I had yet to start. For days, I panicked…Was I doing the right thing? Was this the best choice? What had I just given up? Would I ever get this back? But, then you called, and it became so very clear: I made the right choice.
After all, putting my son in your care, would be “unkind” and “irresponsible.” I mean…how could I?