Sometimes I rant about stuff. It doesn’t happen often but read on to find out what fired me up…
A few weeks ago, I read one of those First Person articles from the Yahoo! Contributor Network. The title “How the Recession Made Me a Better Mom” really grabbed my attention because a) it was another piece of recession porn that I read constantly and b) it’s always interesting to me to hear what another mom has to say.
Boy, am I sorry that I read this piece. And the hundreds of comments that followed.
To begin with, I am sick of the assumption that a child in daycare is raised by someone else. Yes, daycare does provide a safe place for a child to go during the day while her parents work. Yes, daycare does provide educational lessons and reinforces values taught at home like sharing, not to bully, and table manners. Yes, daycare workers do provide love and nuturing to the children entrusted to their care. But let me be clear–even if our kids are in daycare, we are the ones raising them. And it is insulting for anyone to say otherwise.
When my child is running a fever or has a nightmare or falls off her bike, does daycare take care of her? When she has questions about G-d and heaven and death, do the daycare workers answer her? Do they clothe and feed her? Do they read to her at night? Do they teach her the importance of family and what it feels like to be loved unconditionally? Do they teach her the importance of chores and contributing to a family? Are they the ones that have to endure her temper tantrums yet still look at her and say “I love you”? Do they have fitfull nights of sleep worrying about her future and making sure she’s taken care of? Are they willing to fight to the death to protect her? To all of those, I say no.
So don’t tell me that daycare raises my child.
The other point this woman made that I take issue with is that it took her losing her job in order to teach her kids the value of a dollar. That’s disgusting. Why could she not do this while she was working? I understand that each dollar becomes more precious when there are fewer of them floating around. But to not understand the value of those dollars simply because they are in abundance makes me furious. Kids at every income level need to understand the importance of hard work and making smart financial choices. And if this woman was so wrapped up in her consumerist behaviors that she couldn’t recognize the horrible attitudes and behaviors she was instilling in her children prior to her unemployment, then I’m just sad.
I can’t even address the rest of the points she made without getting myself worked up into a frenzy. Well, I will address one. She mentions that she’s more active with her kids now that the recession has impacted her family. Mainly, now she’s learned to turn the TV off. She says “Without the distraction of TV, I talk with my kids more. We play outdoors, take walks around the neighborhood, and go to the playground. We wrestle on the floor and set up elaborate wooden train tracks. We dance, read books, and sing songs. We visit family and friends.” REALLY??? It took you not being able to afford your cable bill to do this?
My husband and I have cable. We have internet service. But we–like hundreds of thousands of other parents–know how to turn it off and interact with our daughter. All of those things she listed? We do those, or our own variation of those. Because we recognize how important it is to give her quality time and attention. Without the television. It’s a damn shame that this woman had to lose her job in order to focus on her kids.
Some of you may disagree with me (and that’s fine) but I can’t tolerate the fact that this woman is using the recession and her unemployment as an excuse to make amends for what she perceives as her past indiscretions as a parent. None of us are perfect parents (well, maybe some people are. I am not) and those of us that aren’t admit our imperfections. We strive to improve, acknowledging that some days, we fail miserably while other days we emerge as victorious as Katniss. But to blame external factors like television–which come equipped with an on/off button–for those failings is just plain pathetic.
I suppose I can choose to look at it from another point of view. One that says “well, sometimes is takes a dramatic upheaval in order to realize our shortcomings and it takes a strong person to make changes” and “just be glad for her children and their future that she is making those changes”. Perhaps I should be less judgmental and accept this woman for what she is–a mother just trying to do her best for her kids regardless of the circumstances that brought her there. She’s just a mother trying to accept her new situation and making the best of it. But I’m struggling with looking at it from that point of view.
I’m jealous of you if you’re not struggling with it. Because that means you’re more accepting and less judgmental than I am. And you possess characteristics that I know I need work on. Except not today.
A rerun of Jerseylicious is on.