Dear Childcare Providers:
For every time you had no choice but to work late because we were running late for [insert any reason under the sun here– traffic, meeting going over, got lost in conversation on our one date night every six months], thank you.
For every time you say something nice about my child, thank you. It makes me feel so much better each and every time I leave her to know that she might bring you some joy the way that she does me.
For every time you held yourself back from telling me how ear-splitting my baby’s cries are, or how frustrating it was that she kept refusing to eat, or how much you just needed her to nap for 30 more minutes, thank you. I know that these things (and many, many more) are true, but I love not hearing about them unless necessary. It saves me from so much guilt, and you know that, so again, thank you.
For every single picture or update that you send, thank you. Especially in my first [week back at work/night out away from my baby], I could not have survived without these updates.
For every time you have refrained from commenting on my appearance when I look like a truly hot mess before getting ready (or after I get home from a rough day [or night]), thank you. I’m fine with you talking to your friends about it. I really do know how ridiculous I can look.
For every time you tell my child no, show them consistency, or give them discipline, especially when it is almost always easier to cave to their demands, thank you. They need this to grow and thrive, and I need this to make our home function smoothly. But of course, you already knew that.
For every time you had to give me an unpleasant update about my child’s [sleep/food intake/any other subject that new moms obsess about] and take in my very poorly hidden expression full of dismay and misplaced frustration, thank you. Sometimes my mom guilt gets the better of me, and I let it project onto others.
For every time that you have gone above and beyond to make me feel normal when I know that I am absolutely extra, thank you. You didn’t need four typed pages of notes about my kid’s schedule. But you listened as I read it out loud, and you smiled and nodded the whole time.
For every time you have carried the immense weight of my insecurity as a working parent, thank you.
Above all, to all childcare providers – daycare center employees, those who give up their home to watch others’ children, date-night sitters, nannies, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and of course, teachers – thank you for your patience and unwavering forgiveness as we parents learn how to navigate these relationships. Thank you for allowing us time to build our trust in you, and for putting your trust in us.
And finally, because it needs to be said: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I have scoffed at how much childcare costs, questioned your methods, and had unrealistic expectations. I am sorry that society as a whole, especially American society, undervalues you, and almost always underpays you. You are an incredibly hardworking, invaluable piece of this economy, and we could not function without your support. Please do not ever hesitate to stand up for your rights, even if (and especially when) it feels scary and uncomfortable to do so. As if we do not already ask enough of you, we also rely on you to change the culture and conversation around childcare in America.
I am right here with you, to stand beside you, as you do so.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
A Very Appreciative Mom
This piece was written with my wonderful childcare providers, who I could not live without, in mind. Thank you for helping me to be me as I navigate motherhood.