An honest reflection on working parent struggle

Today, home sick but starting to feel better, I find myself tearing up as I clean out the dishwasher, thinking about and dreaming about being able to be with Junia during the days.

We live simply, we have one car and pay a fairly low rent, we prefer to buy stuff used and if we splurge on anything it is on buying organic food; the reality of our lives, or rather the reality of our finances, means that I (nor S) can be the primary care provider for our child.

Don't get me wrong, I like my job. I am very into my job, in fact, but the question of childcare isn't an either or. It's just that there is so much grief in me about not being able to stay at home with her. I think that I have spent a lot of energy trying not to focus on just how optionless we have been. S and I have both dreamed of being able to stay with her more but the fact is that dream lies in our future. It depends on a future job for S which implies a future raise or a future also means at least two years from now.

...Two years of awesome days and hard days: biting other kids days and potty training days, and learning to cuss days, and playing pretend days, and reading books again and again days....

I'm also aware that their are people who have it much more difficult than us. We are privileged with VERY flexible work schedules and S is with her on Mondays and blah blah blah. "It could be worse" is true- but frankly, it's unhelpful. It doesn't acknowledge pain and it doesn't hold reality.

Her daycare isn't bad, but again this isn't an either or and again that isn't the topic. The tears well up in my eyes because I have a child that I cannot care for in all the ways that I want to; I cannot control her experiences at daycare, I cannot be the one to hold her, or even the one to get mad at her.

So here are the questions...

Am I buying the "A parent should stay at home myth?" Do children fair better with a parent and is it enough that it matters? Do they fair better on all fronts or on some fronts? Are the answers to these questions even ultimately helpful?

If I did stay at home how much would I sacrafice? After all, I would be giving up A LOT on a personal front, professional front, but also my family would give up a lot an income, experiences outside of the home, a healthier immune daughter's role model of a mother would even change.

The "not able to control my child's experiences" happens to every parent at one point or another...and does it feel like this no matter when it happens?

How do other children factor into this? S and I have started to broach the topic of future children, but, as long as we are daycare dependent it doesn't feel like WE get to imagine the shape of our family it looks like the budget does. . . is this how most families through most of history have operated in reality? Do you just deal with what you got?

Where to go from here? How to discern? How to imagine? How to grieve? How to celebrate? Where is the community of other working parents who struggle and celebrate as well? Right now my circle of other parents I know is a lot of stay at home parents- and I think that emphasizes all of this for me.

P.S. Sorry I am so bad at punctuation.


  1. If it is any help, there are a lot of us out there who have chosen to become one-income families with the mother (or occasionally the father) at home.
    for me, it is fulfilling. Difficult. Annoying. Wonderful. The same gamut of emotions that go with any parenting decision. You do what is best for YOUR family. And while right now that is for you to work, your circumstances may (or may not) change.
    Perhaps you will be able to figure out some job option where you can also be home with your child(ren) during the day.
    Any which way it goes, know this- whatever you choose, so long as you ARE worrying about what is best for your child, you are probably making the right choice. It is when you don't care that you should worry :)

  2. This is honestly where we're at, too. We cannot survive solely on one income and while I have a VERY flexible schedule and do stay home with Tristan most times during the day it IS exhausting and getting everything done is impossible without some childcare.

    I completely understand your pain. It seems like there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel like I'm shortchanging him somehow--by not being here mentally all the time and by trying to do things while he is still awake sometimes, or hearing that AWFUL scream as I leave to teach or study...but I do know that this "stranger anxiety" will pass and it will again go back to being much harder for me than him.

    I think there's great value in having J at daycare, too. She learns to interact with other kids to a greater degree and earlier than others might (T REALLY struggles playing well with other kiddos right now). She'll probably also be more eager to potty train than a child who doesn't see other little people with this 'cool' ability and lack of diapers. It's also super cool for J to see her mom and dad so passionate about what they do for a living and also how your creativity translates into financial wisdom (your sewing and canning abilities and the work of your hands never ceases to amaze me).

    But I also understand your mourning. And perhaps your hatred of how much economy seems to determine the size of families and when we have them. I don't want to come off as if your frustration isn't valid, but know that you're not alone and I think you're doing such an AWESOME job at thinking of and caring for your daughter's needs.


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