Last Friday was the final day of the school year. This Monday was the first weekday of summer break. I don’t have to step foot on my school’s campus for eight glorious weeks.
And yet, I dropped my daughter off at daycare on Monday and Tuesday and I’ll do so again today. Just like I’ll drop her off tomorrow and Friday and almost every day for the rest of the summer.
You see, I have to pay for my daughter’s spot all summer to secure her admittance for the fall. Our preschool is a working parents’ preschool, open 8am to 6pm, 50 weeks out of the year. It makes perfect sense that you need to keep your child in all year, or else someone else will swoop in and take your spot.
I have to pay for my daughter to be there, and so I plan on taking her. Sure I dropped her down to three days a week (the lowest attendance package they offer) for the month of July, and I would have done that all summer except a month is all they’ll give me. And sure I’ll pull her out a few days here and there, to go to on special outings that will be more fun on a weekday than a crowded weekend. But most days my daughter will be at day care, even though she doesn’t have to be.
And I don’t feel bad about that.
But I do feel kind of bad about not feeling bad. I do wonder if I’m a horrible mother for not just paying for my daughter’s spot but keeping her at home. Isn’t that what someone who really loves this mothering thing would do? Isn’t that what someone who really loves their child would WANT to do?
I honestly don’t know the answer to those questions, but I assume everyone else does. And I assume they’re judging me for the choice I’m making.
The thing is, I’m paying for my daughter to be at day care. The idea of paying for something I’m not even using really bothers me. Especially when that thing is an opportunity for my daughter to improve her ever-growing Spanish language skills. Sure I can speak to her in Spanish, but not like three native speaking teachers can. Plus she gets to be with all her friends, playing and painting and sculpting with playdough and clay. It also provides a regularity I know she craves.
And yet, I wonder if all of those reasons for why she should be there are just excuses that I use to make myself feel better. Because the reality is, if I have to pay for it, I’d rather drop her off every day and have the 5-7 hours to myself. I actually really enjoy having that time. I’m getting good stuff done. And it’s nice to be away from my little girl for a bit, because frankly, she drives me kind of crazy. The thought of being home with her all day, every day for eight weeks is kind of terrifying.
Of course I’m dropping her off WAY later than I normally do and I’m picking her up earlier too. She’s not there for the full-time working parent day like she is when I’m teaching. And twice a week I use that freedom to tutor, making important extra spending money for our family. But the rest of the time? The rest of the time I’m just running errands or doing dishes or finishing laundry or exercising or working in the yard. I’m doing things that I usually don’t have time to do, and I’m reveling in the opportunity to do them without anything else getting in my way.
I’ve never had a summer with my child in daycare before. Her first summer she was a newborn and I was home on maternity leave. Her next two summers I was with her every day. And honestly, if I could have saved the $2000+ I would have pulled her for the summer this year too, but I couldn’t. And since I can’t save the money, it seems foolish to waste it.
So I’m not. And I’m getting some much needed me time. And I’m trying really hard not to feel guilty about it, but it’s hard, because feeling guilty is what mother’s do best.
If you had to pay for your child’s daycare spot while you weren’t working, would you send them to school or would you keep him or her home? Would guilt be involved either way?