The part-time parent


I’m feeling defeated. I’m sitting here on the couch downstairs after trying to get my son to sleep for the last three hours. I’m now watching him on the monitor, sitting up, wide awake. He took a nice little nap around hour one-and-a-half, and then decided to wake up. I don’t know what else to do to get him to sleep. I suppose when it gets fully dark outside he’ll realize it’s nighttime and we can try again.


It’s like this at the end of every weekend. Every Sunday night I look forward to going back to work on Monday because I’m completely drained by a marathon bedtime routine on Sunday evening. I find myself longing for the routines of daycare for him, and work for me. At daycare he will eat, sleep and poop at regular intervals; a far cry, it seems, from our carefree, often routine-less weekends. Weekends spent as a family are fun, but we all seem to function better during the weekdays.


Do you ever feel like daycare does a better job at parenting your kid than you?


Hour three of bedtime on a Sunday is not the only time I’ll feel this way. Often times his teachers at daycare will say things like “He loves the swing, doesn’t he? Especially with the music on?” Does he? I hadn’t noticed. He doesn’t take that well to the swing when we’re at home. Or I’ll be struck by the fact that Lenny is holding his own bottle when I show up to pick him up from daycare. We don’t really bottle feed at home, since we breastfeed when we’re together, so I just don’t know these things. It’s like daycare owns the knowledge of this milestone I wasn’t even aware of. I even once found myself saying “when I have him in the weekends,” like I’m sharing custody with daycare or something. I hate when I say things like that at daycare. Why couldn’t I have just said “when we’re home together on the weekends?” Sometimes I feel like a part-time parent, and others are simply doing it better than me.


I know no one truly parents alone. We all have partners, spouses, friends, relatives, teachers, daycare providers, babysitters, nannies, and neighbors who share in the responsibility of watching our kids. I love hearing stories of a beloved nanny or babysitter who have become like family because of their strong bond with the kids they watch. I can still remember from when I was about 3 or 4 years old my “Aunt” Terry, more of a grandmotherly type who helped my mom watch my sister and me, and our favorite babysitter, “Pink Mary.” I really like our daycare, and Lenny loves being there, but I wish I didn’t feel the way I sometimes do about sending him there: one day feeling jealous and resentful that I have to leave him there for the day, and the next day feeling relieved that they’ll help us all get our lives back on track on a Monday morning.


But of course, my husband and I know our son better than anyone else. We knew something was up the other week when Lenny was constipated, the precursor to hand foot and mouth disease since he was unable to communicate a sore throat to us and showed no other early visible signs. We were the ones who identified and caught his tongue and lip ties and took action to correct them–not even the doctors in the maternity ward, the lactation consultant or our pediatrician diagnosed them. I try to remind myself that no one can do this parenting thing alone. Despite the help we get with watching our kids, we are still the parents, full time, twenty four seven.


It is now hour four of bedtime tonight, and my baby is finally asleep. After listening to him cry for about five minutes through the monitor, I gave in and was back upstairs to nurse him–finally–to sleep. I know it won’t last long, and my parenting will continue for the overnight shift. And yes, despite my fears to the contrary, I will still be the parent on Monday tomorrow even after I’ve dropped him off at daycare. But maybe bedtime tomorrow night will go a little smoother, knowing we’ve had a little help during the day.

Photo credit Gena Golas
We were having such a great day! And then…BEDTIME. Photo credit Gena Golas

4 comments on “The part-time parent”

  1. I hear ya sista! You summed up these feelings very poignantly. I too have to drop my kids off at the daycare ever day and truck it to work. I think the worst part is when they only seem to be having a meltdown or bad day when they are home with you, especially after you just got done picking them up and their teacher says that they had a great day. It’s like they somehow manage to save all of their negative energy until they get home. But than I have pangs of guilt when I have to rush my son through his morning cartoons and cuddles because we have to get to work. A these times I wish I could just stay home with them 🙂

  2. I was just telling my son’s babysitter today, that she helps me know what thing to teach him next! She has taught him some sign language and it really helped us all when he was trying to communicate so bad from 12 months to 18 months and didn’t have the words he needed. I think I feel exactly the same as you described sometimes, but then I do my best to brush off the guilt. I looovvveee my job, I’m very good at it, and it makes me sublimely happy. I’m in education, and so I had a short summer off with my little guy and while I had a blast and enjoyed not having to take him to daycare, I really missed working!

  3. Yes. It is sometimes easier to go to work. Remember, they do grow quickly so try to enjoy each moment. I returned to work at 8 weeks and our son is now 9 and entering the 4th grade.

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