It’s funny how having a child can bring your beliefs into sharp relief. Six months in to the life of my only daughter, there is one thing I am more certain of than any sentiment I’ve held before. I believe mommies and babies should be together.
This might sound like a bit of a contradiction coming from me. I am not a stay at home mom and I don’t spend my days monitoring my daughter’s every developmental milestone. I have a job, and my daughter goes to daycare every day. Every morning, as she sits in her caregiver’s arms I feel a stab in my heart as she waves her little hand at me – with some help from her nanny – and her eyes stop connecting with mine and look into oblivion as my car pulls away. I get this painful dose of goodbye once a day, five days a week.
So why, if I feel this way about mommies and babies being together do I do it? The answer is that this core belief butts up against an equal and in some ways opposing one. I believe that children who come from money have more opportunities in life.
It’s because I feel this way that I’ve always had not just a job but a career. And not just a career in any field, but in the competitive television industry. For years and years I felt sorry for myself for having to work late. Every late night in the office felt like a punishment – that is until I had a baby. Then I realized how hard it is to leave on time – which I now have to do every night. Nanny’s orders. In my industry, leaving late is not nearly as painful as suffering the shame of leaving on time. The fear of what leaving on time could mean for my career.
Perhaps you’re thinking what so many people think: If you don’t like it, why’d you have a baby? It was your choice! Yep. That’s true. I did. But come on! Really ask yourself: Do you feel that way? Do you really see it as an either/or proposition? Either you have a high-powered career, or you stay home and have babies. What would happen to America if all the intelligent, motivated, hard-working, ambitious women decided to forego having babies to pursue a career? What would the next generation look like? Conversely, what would happen if all those same women decided to stay home and have babies? What would happen to our economy?
The women’s movement was great for getting us out of the home. But I feel like it stalled before finishing the job. Women still need options for daycare that allow working mothers to have access to their kids throughout the day. Yeah, some companies have on-site daycare facilities, but as someone who has been on the waiting list for one over a year now – since I was just 3 months pregnant – I can tell you how thin the viability of that option is.
Hilary Clinton was right when she said it takes a village to raise a child, but I would take her sentiments one step further. For me, it takes a workplace.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.