What if Mary Poppins isn't Good Enough?

I was making my way through my blog roll this past week checking out posts about motherhood from my favorite mom blogs and design from my favorite design blogs and finding the usual assortment of fabulous posts. I got to one of my favorites - Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home expecting to see some gorgeous interiors or fabulous fabric that she had designed herself (the woman is talented people).

And I realized that the post I was reading (from one of my favorite design bloggers) was about...being a mom. Well, more specifically a working mom. It was unexpected and also about an issue that has been close to my heart the past couple of weeks, so it has really stuck with me.

In the post she talked about the awful experience she recently had dropping her youngest off at daycare and her longing to find a "Mary Poppins" to care for her children while she is off doing what she does best. I've been stewing over the post all last week and this past weekend feeling so much empathy for her situation, while at the same time feeling like an incredibly, woefully ungrateful person.

You see, I have found Mary Poppins. Violet's babysitter is absolutely amazing - super woman I would say. She bakes cupcakes for our birthdays (and lets Violet help). She sends home handmade cards with Violet's drawings and little footprints on special occasions. She sews beautiful skirts and dresses for Violet and once even sent home an entire homemade pizza for us to enjoy for dinner. She also writes in a journal about Violet's day and sends it home for me to read each evening. At her house Violet gets to be outside swinging on swings, picking strawberries from their garden, and running barefoot through the grass. I couldn't ask for a better person to care for my child while I work.

With all of that said - at the end of the day, she isn't me. Yet she spends eight to nine waking hours a day with my child while I spend three to four. Sure I have the weekends, and yes I am so lucky to have summers off to spend with my family. Even with all of that, it just doesn't feel right to me.

And after reading Lauren's post I know that I am so incredibly lucky. I know that Violet receives the best care while she is away from me. I don't have to worry about her being lost in a crowd of toddlers all clamoring for attention. And I am so thankful for that. But something still eats at me. Am I being ungrateful? Maybe. Maybe I am. But it's a feeling I can't get rid of - it's at the very core of my being.

I love my job, but I love my baby more. And, financially, staying home really isn't an option for me. But every day I feel guilty when I pack Violet up and send her away. And every night I hold her tightly and rock her to sleep trying to eek out a few more minutes with my little girl. I don't know what the answer is, but I thought maybe it would be good to get these thoughts out of my head. They've been rolling around in there for a couple of weeks now and I'm starting to go a little nutty. So sorry about the rambling and somewhat gloomy post! Not what I would typically post on a holiday, but maybe it's somewhat fitting for Labor Day? Anyway, thanks for listening.


Fabric image via Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home


  1. I hear your pain. My Charlotte has been in daycare two days a week since she was 3.5 months old! I could't have done it if I weren't happy about the daycare, but they are really great.

    It is always hard to leave my daughter, but I know I am a better mom when I feel fulfilled as a person. My job is funny (I'm a musician) and I have to travel quite a bit. Last month I was gone from her for two weeks. It nearly broke my heart. But, I don't think it is necessary for women to have to give up who they are to be a mom. I think it is good and preferable even, for Charlotte to see that she has a happy, successful and fulfilled mother who is not resentful about becoming a mom.

    I'm certain that it is good for your Violet to see that her mom is so much more than Violet's mom. It is hard to leave her (wouldn't you be a bit worried if it weren't?!) but she will grow up to be a stronger, more self-sufficient and confident little girl because of who you are and what you do. It is so good for our little ones (little girls especially!) to see that women can be whatever we want to be! Having kids doesn't mean we no longer have our own hopes and dreams! They are still as important and valid as ever.

    Good luck to you in this new part of your life. You'll be great. Just remember that in taking care of yourself you are taking care of your daughter!

  2. There is a middle ground. I quit my 8-5 job when my daughter was one and I'm happy as ever. Granted, I now have 3 jobs and my daughter full time (computer side job, starting an architect practice and I watch 1-2 other girls in the morning). It gets hectic, but worth it. Best decision I've ever made.
    Maybe you can work something like that out too?

  3. This is only normal. It's so hard for me to understand the Mom's that say they can't way for Monday so their kids can go to to daycare/school. I was a working Mom and after being layoff I didn't really grasp how much I was missing of my baby's life. You are very lucky to have found MP but rest assure, you are an even better Mom for wanting to be with your baby.

  4. Thank you Bethie - that's a really good way to think about things!

  5. I have thought about other options for bringing in an income and staying home. I think part-time would be perfect, but that hasn't opportunity hasn't presented itself yet. Keeping my eyes peeled and the wheels in my brain turning to find the right solution for us.

  6. I think that's the hard part - with being home over the summer it's such a difficult transition back to five days a week away for both of us. If it was year round I'm thinking I'd be a little more used to things?

  7. I couldn't read that and not comment! I can totally empathise with you. Right now I am a stay at home mother, but I wasn't always. I have 3 kids and with my other two I went back to work and it was hard, but coming out the other side there has been no negative impact on my children at all.

    I think in life, no situation is permanent. You've got to do what you've got to do for that moment - to survive, to make ends meet, to fulfil yourself as a person etc. Like you say, opportunities will arise in the future that will change your situation so that you can spend more time with Violet. In the mean time she has a wonderful carer whilst you work.

    They also say it takes a village to raise a child. I don't think it's realistic to expect that a child spends 100% of their time with their parents. I believe it's actually healthy to be exposed to as many different people as possible. I believe it makes for well rounded children.

    Anyway, be gentle on yourself. You are being the best mother you know how to be and Violet will always know that.

    xx Kristy

  8. I still say, hire a cleaning person so that when you are home, you can spend more time with her. It's a great compromise and you'll never miss the drudgery of cleaning. You do have an awesome babysitter. Give yourself a few more weeks to adjust, but try to take the burden off of yourself at home. If time doesn't help, you can move in with us and then you won't need that second job.
    Love you

  9. I hear exactly what you are saying! I had a baby in March and just recently went back to work (I'm an elementary reading teacher) and it was a rough week. Lucky for me (and my little boy) my mom and sister are watching him and he gets to be around his two cousins. But as good as that situation is, its still not me and it hurts. I spent the past 5 1/2 months giving my all to this little guy and loving it. I have so much support at work and one woman said to me, "you are lucky he gets to spend this time with your mother...you have the best of the worst situation" Don't you get so aggravated when people start saying, "you have summers off and vacations and long weekends..." But there's 181 days that I have to spend away from my baby! I agree that having the summers off can make it tougher...

  10. I agree with other posters (especially Bethie about fulfilled mama = better mama), but also I think it's worth remembering that throughout history, sisters/grandmothers/friends/neighbors have stepped in to take care of each others kids - you know, the whole "it takes a village" concept. I think it's very good for kids to have various trusted, caring adults in their lives. Sounds like you have an AMAZING caretaker for Violet, so she's in great hands. That being said, as a fellow working mama (I work 32 hours a week), I know exactly how you FEEL to be missing your little one daily. It's so hard. Balance is key. Good luck!

  11. Thank you for such a great post that really says what a working mom always feels in her heart. We are currently looking for a new babysitter and it is so frustrating and guilt inducing. I have the same feelings as you, that no one is good enough and it isn't fair that someone else gets to spend more time with my baby than I do. But I also love my job and want my daughter to see that a woman can be more than just a mom if she wants to be. Its a hard balance, but I also believe that kids need that social interaction with other adults and kids to help them become good, well rounded people. Good luck with everything. You aren't alone! :)

  12. I smiled when I read your reply. I am a stay at home mother and I look forward to my daughter going to school. I would have never sent her somewhere just to send her, but I am happy she has school because it is good for her and I both :)

  13. Lauren, I think the fact that we struggle over what is right for our children is what makes us good parents. It shows that we care and that we make the best decisions that we can for our family. True your childcare is not YOU, but she is obviously a great extension of your family. Our experiences as little ones make up a great deal of who we are when we are older and it is clear from your blog that your daughter's experience will be that of a very loving home. Both your home, and your sitter's home.



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