Monday, December 13, 2010

Propaganda From the Mommy Wars? I Think Not.

I’ve never seen the stay-at-home vs. go-to-work Mommy thing as “Mommy wars” because in my experience, most of the women who go to work would prefer to stay home with their small children. Hardly a war of ideas – it’s more like those who can and those who wish they could. They’re not really in disagreement. I think the media loves the term “Mommy wars” and the Left loves it even more, as Holly Wickham has pointed out. (Ha ha. I just pretended like the media and the Left are two different things! Silly me.)

However, I don’t think it’s that all difficult to wade through what Holly calls the “propaganda” about mothering decisions. I hear young go-to-work moms spewing this stuff on a regular basis.

On the commuter bus today, the mother of a 2-year-old talking about how her son “needs” to go to daycare because he’s so bored at home. A 2-year-old is bored? Lady, you are not doing your job at all if a 2-year-old is bored – everything in the world is fascinating to a 2-year-old! I suspect far too much screen time has been allowed. In any event, she’s off to the office now, telling herself this is for her son’s own good, and the poor kid’s not even out of diapers yet. (Some sharp daycare director no doubt implied that her son’s superior intellect required the academic stimulation that their institution would provide.)

I have also heard mothers of infants (babies too young to roll over!) assuring anyone who would listen that it was certainly time for them to get back to work, because their child needs “socialization” that supposedly only a good daycare can provide.

And that’s a giant feminist (used in the negative sense, Holly) load of bull puckey. A young child’s most pressing need, as even a good daycare director will tell you, is building a strong sense of security and confidence through stable relationships with a (very) few trusted adults. Guess where the ideal place for that is? The home. Nobody loves them more than their parents, and no one will care for them like their parents. Do you think they don’t know, can’t sense that their “caregivers” don’t care all that much? Because let’s face it – they do not. Frankly, that includes your out-of-this-world expensive “au pair,” Mrs. I-went-to-medical-or-law-school. The au pair or nanny doesn’t care that much, either. But it’s even worse in most non-home based group environments.

I recently had an opportunity to view a great deal of video shot at a “prestigious” daycare center (that calls itself a preschool). The situation was unique in that the adults at the center had been instructed to simply ignore the cameraman’s presence, and they did. It wasn’t the intention, but this situation ended up being very instructive as to what a child’s day is like in group care. In a word, depressing. Most children were ignored for long periods of time while caregivers tended to the louder, more needy among them. There were other kids asking for help with something who were simply ignored until they gave up asking. Then there were also children with food or dirt on their faces that nobody bothered to wipe. Many of them have virtually no interaction with an adult most of the day. And when the “teachers” were present, they were speaking in broken English and using horrendous grammar. I almost laughed, thinking of the “professionals” whose children attend this “school.” What will they think the first time their little darling says, “I don’t got no toy” etc.? But we all know what daycare workers make, and we all know the “profession” doesn’t exactly attract the world’s most educated. And this was at an accredited, “highly recommended” institution.

No institutional care – and I mean no such place – can compete with what you as a mom can offer at home. You can meet or beat every single selling point of the most expensive, most prestigious, most “challenging” preschool. And it’s not all that challenging for you, you see, because it’s all about spending time with your child, reading to him or her, playing with him or her, talking with him or her, and taking him or her with you to interesting places (the grocery store qualifies, by the way). This isn’t rocket science. But it’s a great deal more important than anything else you could be doing. And that applies whether your other interests are running for national office, running a medical or legal practice, or running to the store for milk.

And dear lady on the bus – your 2-year-old, or 4-year-old, or yes even sometimes 6-year-old does not need “socialization” if by that you mean a room full of kids, half of whom have runny noses and who are badly missing their mommy. Your child needs to learn to socialize from you, but they can’t learn much if you’re at work all day away from them. Sorry if that guilts anyone. It’s just the fact.

No slam to Sarah Palin, or anyone else. But it’s insulting to those of us who stay home, or stayed home with their kids, to have our contributions reduced to “propaganda” from “one side of the Mommy wars.” Our contributions were, in fact, all about what is best for kids. We have the truth on our side. The rest of it is just made up to make people feel better for choices they know, deep down, are not the best for their offspring.

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