To Store or Not To Store?
Julie B. Forbes
March 6, 2000
My experience, I believe, is not unique. I am thirty-five and a "stay at home mom", as opposed to those moms who "get out of the home." I am often frustrated and annoyed that my title's parameters are defined by the actions of moms who have decided to store their children. Yes, I did say STORE their children. They give birth to their babies, and then at 6-weeks of age, pay a business to house their offspring on a daily basis, i.e. storage. I once voiced this perspective at a baby shower and the host, later, informed me of the haunches that rose as I left the gathering. The truth hurts. As I drop my 4-½ year old off at Pre-K, I pause to look into the "infant storage", and my heart bleeds.
One baby, fallen to its side, sits in a swing One baby, rolled over into a corner, raising its head trying to gain some insight as to how he can get out of his predicament. One baby, sitting in the corner of his crib plays with its toes.
All in all, I guess, the scene wasn't too horrific, except maybe if you felt as if you could just hear the babies missing their moms. If you could cry for the lost time and experiences that mommy and or daddy are missing; each minute, hour and day given to an employee in one of those really nice looking daycare centers.
I have pondered the question; "Which generation had it harder; my mother's, a generation of women who pretty much just slid into their role of mom and housewife, who didn't question it and didn't know any different, or my generation; women who have been in the workforce and reaped the benefits of the entire scene: the ego, feelings of success and self-esteem, money, lunches, great wardrobes and getting out of the house." We now have to decide whether to walk away from it all. Have we tasted the fruit and abandoned our children because we refuse to let go of all the things that work affords us? How many mothers and fathers will answer that question honestly? Do without the dinners out, the clothes, the nails, the movies, the golf trips, the dry-cleaning, the shoes, the expensive spas, the gym, the vacations, the perms, coloring and great hair-cuts, the good make-up, the new leather bag, good bottle of wine or wine at all, fine furnishings, awesome electronics and the list goes on and on.
"But we need two incomes just to survive." (Acquaintances)
When I was ending my teaching year and career to stay at home with my child, a colleague once asked me, "So you're staying home huh?" I replied, "Yes, I just can't leave my baby." She said, as her 5-month-old fetus listened, "Well we can't, we did the new house, furniture and cars a few years back so we really need a second income." Now, who made some bad decisions there? The 5-month-old fetus or Mom and Dad? They chose the house, furniture and car over their soon to be born children. They really did make that choice, as harsh at it sounds. They may convince themselves that all that they work for is for their child but all he really needs is them, but that has already been promised to the house, furniture and cars. They no longer owned themselves, so they no longer have it to give to a helpless little thing like offspring. So, storage works. After all, it costs them only money and that they have.
A friend, or so he thought, of my husbands once commented that he did not want to "live like my husband and I did," referring to the self-imposed tight budget we had been under for over four years so I could stay home with our first child and blessedly, just a year ago, our second. They had been friends for years and it hurt my husband to think his friend could not see what we were doing for our children. He and his wife had a child as we had our first and she went back to work when he was six weeks old. When our second came, they too had a second. This time she quit work. As their first makes his way through Pre-K, they have been informed by his teachers that their son, at four years of age, is not performing any where near where he should be. They recommend professional help for him. My daughter's Pre-K teachers, teasingly recommend I skip kindergarten for her and just go ahead and place her in the first grade. Pay back is hell.
I once thought I was in love with a hot Italian when I was nineteen. I saw the light however when I confided in him about my worst fear as a woman of my generation: My dreams or a family? He responded with; "Why can't you do both?" I thought, "Why not?" but my heart said "Yeah right." How is it that I knew it couldn't be? I believe it is the memories of all the time my mother spent with me. The time that your parents willingly spend with you, that is what makes you feel important, loved, worthy and whole. Do you remember? Are our children any different? The eyes of those who store their children, as you do or are considering doing, aren't sympathetic eyes. They only want what you want; affirmation that what you are doing is O.K. Isn't it?
Is it? If you want a child who will reflect your values, habits, humor, ideals, morals and love, YOU have to raise him, not the employee of a storage facility known as daycare. You have to capture, almost steal the heart of your child at a very young age and hold it ever so carefully in your hands. Mold it, nurture it, protect it and eventually, free it. You cannot do that if you are not with it. A six-week old, your six week old, deserves more than just care -- he/she deserves you.
This article copyright © 2000 by Julie B. Forbes and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.