The other day, as we were leaving my child’s daycare, Mia decided she had to say good-bye to each of her teachers before she left. “Good-bye Trish, bye Donna, bye Denise, bye Amy, bye Ashley,” she shouted happily. I was surprised and quite impressed that she could keep them all straight. As we drove home, I started to think about the number of caregivers that help watch Mia while we work. The bunch that Mia said good-bye to? That’s just the Tuesday and Thursday crew. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday Mia goes to Vicki’s home-based daycare. And sometimes, my sister and her family, pitch in to help when Vicki takes a much needed vacation or if we have to work late. Then, on some weekends we get requests from other family members who crave some Mia time and well, it is very hard to turn down their kind offers. We do not want to limit their time with our daughter and we certainly take advantage of the time she is visiting with them by sneaking in a trip to the grocery store, straightening up the house, etc. I understand it takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes I feel like I have enlisted small army of people to look after my child.
Many mornings she will ask me “Who am I going to see today?” This leaves me to wonder: are there too many people watching my kid? Are we lucky that Mia is pretty adaptable, is she confused by the different styles of care/discipline? How does she even know to listen to her mom? So many questions swirl around in my head! I know that I just have to resign myself to the fact that while I cannot be with my daughter at all times, I am happy she is with people and children that are helping her to grow, teaching her to share, and expanding her network of friendship. Besides:
Just when I begin to feel that sting of mom guilt and think I am not with her as much as I should, I hear this coming from my daughter’s room as my husband is putting her to bed: “Goodnight Amy, goodnight Olivia, goodnight Joey, goodnight Vicki, goodnight Joan, goodnight Ashley…” and on, and on, reciting the names of those people in her life that she loves. It is what we call the Goodnight List, our nightly profession of gratitude. It is a reminder to me that when children enter our lives, they expand our network of love and support exponentially. I know in my heart that if my daughter doesn’t listen to me it’s not because I have relinquished my authority to other childcare providers, it’s because she’s nearly three and has a mind of her own. And somehow, there is order to our chaos. It is all made possible by the continual help and we support we receive from our little army of caregivers. To them we say thank you – each and every night.