The Catch 22 of Motherhood

Caution: I am about to "rant"

I may have only found out that I will be returning to school in the fall a few days ago but I am already stressing over my child care options for Mr. Jack. I got my bachelors in psychology and was a research assistant in a lab that researched child development - most specifically pertaining to early childhood education/care and infant signs/gestures. When I graduated I had a weird 3 month gap between finishing school and having Bubba. I had been a nanny for the past 3 years but decided maybe I would try a more standardized form of child care to work in, just to see things that I had been researching from an inside perspective/gain some new experience. 

I got an assistant teacher position at a corporate daycare facility that has different locations ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.. I will not say the name, but lets just say it's a really popular daycare. For three months I was HORRIFIED by the type of care that people were paying over a thousand dollars a month for their children to receive. But it's not all one sided- it's a cycle! 

I was one of the most educated people working at this particular facility. I was getting paid $9 an hour based off of my experience/education.. ya.. seriously? But because of my experience/education I was getting paid 50 cents to $1 more than several of the other employees that had been working there for many years. They had all of the teachers/assistant teachers wearing GOD AWFUL ill-fitting polo shirts and black pants (yes, everyone wore yoga pants) that pretty much screamed WHITE TRASH. So do the math, no more than a high school education required, white trash outfits, poor pay - what do you get?! Most of my coworkers used poor grammar, chain smoked, were middle-aged, and didn't further their education past high school. 

Because of the stereotype that was formed by the average worker, I was treated like a poor and uneducated hill billy by most of the parents. They never took the time to get to know who was taking care of their children all day. The few that did were shocked to hear that I was a graduate of a well thought of university and that I had a degree that gave me tangible knowledge to use in caring for their children in the best possible way. 

But the WORST, and I mean the worst part of my experience was the acceptance of ignorance. I mainly worked with the infants and toddlers. Because my coworkers did not have a background in child development they had unrealistic expectations of the children they were caring for. They would scream (yes SCREAM) at 2 year olds for not sharing with one another. They would ROUGHLY grab children by their arms if they were frustrated with them. If I brought any of these up as concerns with my director they were shrugged off and gossiped about with the same coworkers later on. 

Each worker chose favorite children and ignored children they found to be "annoying". They discussed and gossiped about every child's parents like it was their own personal soap opera. The regulations on cleaning up rooms after a day of work were slack and disgusting. While I was working there (for three months) there were FOUR outbreaks of hand, foot, mouth disease. Every single child had a runny nose. I stuck it out and worked up until my due date.. but I went home each and every night terrified of ever having to put my child in daycare!

I could literally go on and on about why my experience at this daycare was awful. I could tell toe curling stories that would make you cringe.. but I think we all get the point. I say it's a cycle because we underpay child care workers and expect quality care because tuition costs are so high. You end up paying for SO many things other than the actual care. If child care workers were paid more, the quality of care would go up- yet because pay is low, quality is low, etc. 

Here's the thing... I really want to have a career. I have personal dreams and goals outside of being a wife and mother that I have been given the opportunity to pursue. I love Jack and I LOVE being his mom 24/7.. but I also know that I have to have things in my life that fulfill me outside of my family in order to be the best mom and wife that I can be. But that comes at a HUGE expense in my eyes. 

Today I went a toured a montessori school with a toddler program. I must admit that I was impressed and will definitely keep it in mind as an option but I can't say I would drop him off every day and NOT worry that things may not be what they appear in regards to the quality of his care! Tuition is also a whopping $1,300 a month. With that price tag it may be cheaper to hire a private nanny.. We have a lot of things to think about and so I am glad that I have started the search process 6 months in advance. 

Motherhood has a serious "Catch 22" for women in our "day and age". We want the career and the professional life, but when it comes to children and being a mom you have to make serious and scary choices. Either sacrifice your career (or your husband's career) in order to ensure the best possible care for your child, but perhaps at the expense of being the best "you" possible.. or brave the world of childcare and never really know if it's what's best. I know some women are lucky to live by family members and I honestly wish I could talk my mom into moving into our basement MANY a day.. but that's just not our reality. Either way I am sacrificing, either way there are consequences. Sigh... 

In other news the school we toured was right by John's work so we got to pick up Daddy for lunch! Bubba threw the worlds most GIGANTIC fit in his carseat.. I'm still not sure why. But he got all red in the face and sweaty. We had to just sit in the parking lot for a few minutes so he could calm down. 

But once we got all calm and happy again we got to enjoy Mama and Daddy's favorite.. some mediterranean yummies :) Bubba got to eat pita and while at first he wasn't so sure.. He really really liked and kept opening his mouth for more! 

John ordered a large Baba Ghanoush just so we could take the leftovers home.. it's pretty much to die for. Garlic heaven in my mouth!

And last but not least- a very rare occasion.. John actually took the camera and snapped a shot of me (scraggle hair and all) and a VERY happy Bubba TOGETHER.. this is like one of FIVE pictures we have together :)

It is sunny and 50 degrees here today. You can SMELL spring in the air and it is making me SO happy. John is going to be home any minute and I cannot wait to take a family walk!


TwoTicketsFor... said...

Go the private nanny route. He won't bring home all the extra germs that come with lovely daycare. yuck!

Princess Stephy said...

This post was precious - EVEN the ranting. =]

Megan B.B. said...

Have you looked into a home daycare? That's what I have done now,and I really enjoy it much better compared to the centers I have toured. Because it's a home environment, she gets a lot of one on one time (there's only 4 kids total)
Her daycare provider is a grandma, who has been in the business for over 30 years. She is in love with all the kids, knows their routines, and it's not just a free-for-all.
I got a recommendation from a mother's group (look those up on meetup.com, that's also been a lifesaver because of my new area and lack of friends) but I know that many people post on craigslist (sketchy sounding, yes.) Good luck.
1,300 sounds outrageous, considering that I pay $900/month in San Francisco.

Kay said...

@ Megan: Ahh yes I need to look into that option too! Defnitely trying to give myself a head start.. it's not easy, as I am sure you know, to feel like ANYONE but yourself is fit to care for your child :/ like I said, it's def a catch 22!!