Silly to Be Jealous of Childcare Provider?

Updated on May 21, 2010
K.W. asks from Powhatan, VA
11 answers

My work schedule requires me to work from 9 to 8 at least 5 days a week. I work 30 minutes from home, so I have to have my 10 week old at my mother-in-law's house by 8:15 to get to work on time, and then I don't get home until 8 or 9 at night. I literally only get about an hour a day with my children -- 30 minutes in the morning and if I'm lucky an hour in the evening before bedtime. There are actually nights when I've kept the baby up til 10 or 11 just so I can see him and spend time with him. My 12-year-old has pretty much "outgrown" us, so even when he's awake, he's in his room or outside playing basketball or something too cool for the old folks.

My question is this: am I being silly by worrying that my infant will actually see my mother-in-law as his mommy instead of me? I got to stay home with my older son (we lived with my parents and they let me stay home to take care of him rather than put him in daycare), so I know how much I am missing out on every day when I am gone for 12 hours every day. I actually started crying last night because I went to feed my baby and he wouldn't take the bottle the way we've always given it to him (room temp water mixed with powdered formula). I had to heat it up because that's what my MIL does during the day before he'd eat it. And all I could think is that he's going to be closer to Gammy than he is Mommy and that I won't even know my own son and will have to rely on her to tell me everything he does as he grows and develops.

What makes it worse is that I worked in daycare (infant room) for 3 years and I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education, so I know how quickly they grow and learn and how amazing they are. And I am missing all of it.

I love my MIL dearly. She's stepped in wherever she can to help out because my own mother passed away 3 years ago. And I am thrilled that she is watching our son instead of a stranger. But I am a little jealous and resentful that she gets to see all his "firsts" and that the way she does things has become the way we have to do things, instead of the other way around.

So, am I being silly? My husband says I am. That our son will always know who his mommy is and that he'll always love his mommy most, but I'm afraid he won't.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I have a job interview tomorrow! Preschool -- back to what my training is in! Cross your fingers for us as I am really excited about this. My only concern is benefits -- I carry them for our family of 4. My husband can get them (FINALLY)through his job, but open enrollment isn't until November!

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answers from Washington DC on

K., there are no bad guys here.

Sure, it would've been nice if your husband was reading from the perfect PC movie script that would intruct him to hold you and tell you how much he sympathizes and then maybe give you a backrub (later in the film you would win the lottery or something, problem solved!)...but back to reality....

To be fair to him, he knows that your child is being cared for by the woman who raised him, so it's likely he is comforted by that fact even more that you are. Further, few men have ANY expectation of being home to raise their children, so he probably CAN'T realisitically sympathize on the level you wish.

But that doesn't diminish your feelings AT ALL. I got teary just reading your request.

All I can suggest is that you enjoy the time you DO have. Try not to stress about the little things. Your children won't really care or remember whether your house is perfectly clean, or whatever. Enjoy the weekends! Revel in the time you have! Be in the moment as much as you can muster.

And consider this too; I grew up in the seventies when almost everyone's mom was home full-time -- and yet our moms rarely played with us. It just wasn't done. Kids ran around and played with each other. Moms were in the background cooking and cleaning or doing mom-things.

My point is that there is an EXCELLENT chance that you are giving your child more "real" time with you than many mothers who do stay home. And you are appreciating it more.

I've done both. I was a stay-home mom for years, and then I went back to work and was on the road shooting films -- please believe me that wherever you are, the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side.

I actually had the opposite ephiphany, which is why I went back to work when my daughter hit first grade. Not that I didn't appreciate it, and enjoy it, BUT...I was going CRAZY being home full-time. Then I switched back to SHM when she turned 10 to enjoy the few remaining years before she thinks I'm a total loser. (well, I'm already pretty uncool, but still).

YOU are his mom. No one else. Nothing can replace a mom. Think up special silly things that he'll always remember, rituals and so forth that he will associate with you forever. For instance, pick a special date (not his birthday) and call it "Josh Day" (or whatever his name is). Do a special activity with just him that day every year. No dad, no brother, just him. When he's older he can choose the activity, but for now, make it a picnic at scenic spot, or something else that will be memorable. When he loses a tooth, get some sparkly nail polish and leave itty bitty "footprints" on his pillow case and then paint a silver dollar with the "fairy dust". Take two minutes to draw little cartoons or notes to put in his lunchbox every day...There are so many things that he will remember and appreciate later on...and more importantly that NO ONE else can/will do for him.

You don't have to be there every minute to be the most magical, important presense in his life. I know this doesn't help with the "missing"...nothing does, but perspective helps. You love him more than anyone. That's a fact. And there are a million little ways to remind him.

If you can find a different job with better hours, great. If not, you can still be the Best Mom in the World. And to help with the "missing" have you considered giving your MIL a video camera? Granted, it's not "the same" as being there...but kids love watching movies of themselves, and sitting down with your son to watch some of his activities on film could be really cool for both of you.

Well, I am rambling, but I hope this helps even a tiny bit. Best luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't think you are being silly. I don't think your work schedule is reflecting your priorities as a parent and you are feeling the conflict.

I don't know what you can or want to do about the work schedule, but that is really the source of the problem. You are working A LOT of hours.

I see in your "A Little About Me" that you already know this.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

No, not silly at all.

I work full time as well, and when my first DD learned to say "mama" at first she called both me and the daycare provider it. I have to admit, I was surprised and unhappy about it, at first. BUT..I realized that at that age, she wasn't meaning it as specifically as it sounded to me AND my daycare provider truly loved her(and still loves her at 4 1/2!). It was my hangup and I got over it pretty quickly.
That said, my daughter learned pretty fast the different names for Mommy and Miss Hasna (as we call her), so she learned to differentiate.

So, I've been there. It is very hard some days to drop my new DD (9 months yesterday) off, knowing the same thing is likely to happen, or variations on it.

I DON'T agree with any of the posters who decided to guilt-trip you over your situation, rather than actually answering your question. I was raised by a woman who worked as well, and I never doubted who my mother was, and I always knew I was loved. In addition, I had a wonderful role model who actively demonstrated that a woman could continue her education, could work full time and still create a loving, wonderful family environment (4 kids, with a 'surprise' 4th baby after a ten-year hiatus = )

So, do not guilt yourself over how you feel (your feelings are entirely valid) or what the situation is (it is what it is, for whatever personal reasons.) Do what you can to enjoy yourself more with *both* your kids and keep looking for that other job. You seem to have already made your choice to change the situation and your priorities seem fine to me. Keep in mind that what *is* right now, will not necessarily be forever. Thank your MIL for the loving care she provides your son and tell your husband that your feelings are valid and you just need to work through them - having him calling you 'silly' isn't a help.

Good luck in your job hunt!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Honestly. And I don't want to break your heart, but... He will always know your mom. but he might have a different relationship then you'd like. And he might feel more connected with your MIL. Why do you have to have a job that requires so many hours. Suck it up and be determined to find another job. And if its about money make it work. Your children are more important. And in terms of your 10 month old. I would be just as concerned about him. You must find time to spend with him on a regular basis even if he doesn't want to. He's still a boy and he needs his mother. You are going to need to step up to the plate and be a part of your children's lives. Sorry ):

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

you will always be the mom. and your sons will always know what a wonderful, hard-working mom they have. the fact that you posted this proves it even more.
your MIL will always be their grandma. thank god they have a family member watching them, but no matter what the situation, no one replaces mom. Your husband is right to a point, except for the part of being silly. You're not. this is a very valid post, your feelings are true and completely normal.
I would though suggest you cut on those hrs. 9 to 5 or even 8 to 4:30 is what you should be putting in. i can't imagine how you feel at the end of the day. Tell your boss you need shorter hours for the next few years and that you'll work harder than ever. It should work. A lot of people nowadays, esp. with gas prices are talking their way into either working from home or putting in some of the hours while telecommuting.
someone referred to your situation as a tragedy. wow, what a strong word, of course, I completely disagree with that poster.
I would want my girls to grow up realizing they can work, take care of themselves and create a wonderful life for them and their families. Last I heard, dollars don't grow in trees and lately I haven't seen many grocery stores handing out free diapers and food. Let me know if you hear of one doing just that.
I am a working mom raised by working parents. I know who my mom is. No doubt about that.
good luck to you

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What you are describing sounds completely normal. I would be more worried if you didn't get jealous. It only means that you are a loving and caring mother and want to spend time with you sons. There is nothing wrong or silly about that. Take pride in the knowledge that you love your sons so much that you miss them while you are working to provided for their needs. Knowing that this is normal and many moms go through this should help you feel less bad about working.

Know that because you are his mom, you are the only one worrying that he won't know you. All of that love and energy can be felt by your son. He will know that you are his mother. He will feel the love from you that only a mother can give, even if it is for a certain number of minutes a day. I hope this gives you some peace. That will also help you strengthen your bond together.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Wow--I can relate with you..I had to work through my feelings of guilt--but I didn't work the hours you had--I work 7-4:00 and have holidays, summer off. I would definately seek other employement because your always going to be second guessing yourself in this situation--please remember that you are a good mom and your trying to do what is best for your child. I told myself that I wouldn't get emotional when I went back to work but I had a hard time--its natural and every mom goes through it..i think of my daughter every second and when I went back to work it was a hard transition--it will probably be a hard transition again--but not as bad when I go back in August--with me I need some balance with adults--and work keeps my life structured so I'm learning to balance work--wish I could work part-time but I really can't right now so I'm making every time valuable--and the grass is always greener on the other side. Staying at home has its disadvantages as well so keep that in mind--everything will work out for you--just keeping praying--i would work in daycare-and bring your child--i don't have that opportunity but i'm checking into when she starts school to go to school with me. Keep me posted--hope u get the job--if its meant to be it will be.



answers from Washington DC on

Hi K.,
I feel for your situation. I'm in a similar one myself. My commute is 1 1/2 hours each way, depending on how the crow flies. I see my kids for 30m in the morning and about an hour at night. Like you I don't like it very much, but given my current situation, it is what it is. Is it possible to wake them up 30 mins earlier? Perhaps you could all eat breakfast together? The thing to remember is that you have the weekends to be with your kids 24 hours. Make the most of it. I would also limit the # of overnight stays with your MIL. To keep a clear line that there home is with you.

I've read all of the posts and can't believe the tone that some of the other posters have taken. You've come to us in a moment of need, and should not have guilt thrown at you. You are doing nothing wrong by working. I was raised by working parents, and had friends that had stay at home moms. In fact I was a 'latch key kid', where I'd get home before my mom. While my friends got homebaked cookies in the afternoon and I didn't, my mom always would surprise us with little goods waiting for us.
The thing to keep in mind is that you are the mom. You will always be the mom. I know that you feel jilted that your MIL gets more time with your baby. My mom watched my son for the first year, so I know what you mean. When certain firsts occurred, she wouldn't tell me. She would wait until I saw them and gleefully mentioned them to her. I really appreciated that. There came a time when my son realized that when we went to her house that I would be leaving, and he'd start to cry. Even if it was for a dinner or holiday party. Please try to keep the feelings at bay. Your son knows you, and takes cues from you. To help keep the lines drawn between you and your MIL, I suggest having a name for her (grandma, nana,etc) that is NOT mema or mae maw. Those are so close to mama, that it may add to confusion.
Best wishes. Stay strong.



answers from Washington DC on

K., I thought long and hard about how to respond because I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I think the fact that you are asking the question means you are a very loving mother. I think your husband was insensitive, but fathers sometimes have very different expectations about parenting then moms. You should listen to your instincts, not look for approval from someone else – you feel what you feel. It is okay if you have different opinions about what your kids need and what you need, so don’t let him be dismissive with your feelings.
My heart breaks for you that you are not be with your children more. Those hours you work are crazy – I wouldn’t want to work that much even without kids. I worked full time for almost a year after my first child is born. Then we sold our single family home, bought a townhouse, I went to part-time, and my husband found a job closer to home. You can imagine where I am going with this… We agreed that one of the parents needed to be home as much as possible with the kids if we both continued to work. And I, personally, wanted to be the stay at home parent.
Yes, you will be “Mommy” and your kids will love you and have a unique relationship with you. And I am sure they miss you. But I don’t think that the correct question is “will he know I am Mommy?” The correct question is, ARE YOU HAVING THE KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KIDS THAT YOU WANT? And if they could choose, WOULD THEY WANT IT THIS WAY? While it is great that your kids have a special relationship with their grandmother and aren’t in a daycare setting, I think they will come to rely on her to be their main source of comfort because she is their primary caregiver. Honestly, I can’t see how you spend very many hours with them – it sounds like a bad divorce custody arrangement.
I think you need to ask yourself why you are working so much. It is probably either because of 1) financial burdens (real, like you are in debt), 2) financial burdens (imagined, keeping up with the Joneses), 3) intrinsic career satisfaction, or 4) some combination. While these are valid, and we all face them to one degree or the other, you should think about all the reasons you decided to have children and ask yourself if you are achieving THOSE goals. I do not believe you can “have it all.”
Isn’t it possible that you can make a change in career, particular jobs, or schedules - by you or your husband? I am sure it is possible – even if it is a step backwards for the grown-ups, your kids will have more time with you. Your baby will be in school in just a few years, and then you will have more time to work. I have a four-month old, and I spent one and a half hours just sitting on the floor playing with her this morning. Do you get to do that very much? Please enjoy your kids!! I do believe you are missing out on a lot and so are your kids. I am sorry if that is not the answer you want to hear, but I really am sad for you and them. And I say that having seen different sides of the problem personally.
I know that I don’t walk in your shoes, but I don’t want you to believe that your feelings aren’t valid. Just because we CAN work so much doesn’t mean we SHOULD. I always try to think, if tragedy struck tomorrow, would I be happy with how I had spent the day before? I personally decided to get pregnant after 9/11, and I try to remember that when my kids are stressing me out or I want to spend time by myself. I am not saying “don’t work” but don’t settle for a situation that is not best and don’t make your kids settle either. I hope you find a plan that works for all of you. I would be happy to chat offline if you just want to talk. Good luck.

PS - I just reread your post and noted that you ARE indeed looking for a new job. That's great, so maybe I didn't need to write as much as I did. So I would just emphasize that kids know their Moms and definatly have a unique affection for them. I think it is great you are trying to improve things. But I also think your worries and concerns are very valid, and you shouldn't try to surpress them. GOod luck!



answers from Norfolk on

Dear K.,

I feel for you and your children. I can tell from your message you are a very loving mother. It breaks my heart that you are currently CHOOSING to work instead of being avaiable to your boys when they need you. I get that you are not happy with that choice, but you have to realize, it IS a choice. Make no mistake, your 12 year old NEEDS you too. You have to have quantity time, to have quality time though.

I am concerned that your husband doesn't see this situation for the tragedy it is. Think of it this way. What if you and your husband spent 12 hours a day with substitute spouses. Do you really think that would not effect your bonds to each other? Of course it would! Your little boy needs YOU. This may be harsh, but he is too young to speak for himself. If he could, he would tell you this himself. In my opinion, it is wrong to put financial WANTS above his NEEDS.

That reminds me of a day I picked up my first born daughter from preschool, she is now 17. She wanted to know why her friend was not getting picked up by his mother or father. It was a home preschool/ day care. I said he has to stay there because his mom and dad both work. She said, very matter of factly, "they must have too much stuff"! I tell you what, at that moment I knew I was doing the right thing by giving her the time and attention she needed. With tears in my eyes, I told her she was absolutely right and that I would not trade being with her for all the STUFF in the world! She asked why I was crying and I said, "because I am so happy and honored to spend my time with you!" That was one of my proudest mommy moments of my life...

You say you are looking for a way to have more time with your children...I would love to talk with you about a very lucrative work from home opportunity I have found. I would be so happy to help you make the transition to being a wfhm! K., women like you are the reason I love doing what I do. Let me help you help yourself and your family.

Dream big, then climb strong!



answers from San Diego on

a mother is one that is always there for its kids. its understandable dat you work but take this as a note you are living your kids grow up with out your present. sure you are a great mother no dubt and you always will. one thing to remeber is dat you must put your kids in first place no matter what . work part time if possible and the rest of the time dedicate to your kids and it through with your husband and find if bills can be payed off if working part time. most importantly dont get involve with loans dat will lead you to more work and with your kids as much as possible dey need you Now more den ever...

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