The other day, I was traveling on business but brought my daughter because my husband had meetings and other plans. I offered to take the responsibility of childcare because…well, it just keeps happening that way because of age-old gender roles no matter how much I try to resist them.
I’ve found an excellent daycare in this particular city that takes “drop-ins” which is the most amazing service ever invented for working women who sometimes travel with their kids. So I dropped my daughter off at this new place, anxious to get started on my work, and as I got ready to leave, she wrapped her arms around my legs. I felt a wave of mommy-ness, and it was overwhelming.
My eyes welled up with tears.
“She’ll be okay,” said one of the women at the daycare.
“I know she will,” I said as I left trying to make sure my daughter didn’t see my tears.
Then I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, trying not to cry. Every once in a while I have that mommy feeling.
But behind the emotions of leaving her in a new place with total strangers is another feeling of total and utter relief. Finally, I can shake off the mommy role and get into work mode.
I love work mode. I love the way my brain functions when I’m working. I love writing, creating things, getting things done. I love the space and time to concentrate without interruptions.
While some women say they feel guilty about leaving their child at daycare, I don’t. Other than that momentary “oh no, she’s shy and afraid” protective feeling, I simply love breaking away and being away. On business trips, I do miss her and hope she is safe and happy at all times, but I don’t miss her constant chatter and demands on my time and attention.
I don’t ever want anything bad to happen to her. But if I could afford it, I’d want to hire a full-time nanny.
Call me selfish, call me a terrible mommy, but I envy my husband for his ability to leave for work, get work done, come home and not feel obligated to provide or arrange for child care. Don’t get me wrong - he is a very engaged father, and I make very heavy demands on him to take over child watching when he gets home. But he, like so many other men, just take it for granted that all child-related duties will be handled by the woman.
And no matter how I try to resist it, child care and the arranging of alternate care under just about every circumstance still falls to me. Hubby does thank me for my efforts, but when I talk about investing in a babysitter a few evenings a week so he and I can spend time together or do our own thing, he balks at the expense. He’d never go for my full-time nanny idea, that’s for sure.
So I just sit on the fence between being a high-powered Internet executive and mom to a 4-year-old and jump to either side as needed, with the other always pulling me, pulling me, pulling me back.
What side of the fence do you sit on?
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