Guest Post: Emily Bybee

I was recently talking to my friend Emily, an author of Young Adult fiction, about her experiences as a licenced child care provider. As we talked I realized that her encounters with parents in the community and the reactions she received when out with her charges would fit in perfectly with the topics and issues I explore on this blog. Luckily she was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to pen this wonderful article for me. Emily discusses the irony in the lack of respect we afford our care givers in America contrasted with the supposed precious nature that we assign to our children.

     Many moms have had the experience of meeting another mom at the park and having a great conversation until the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom question comes up. If you’re the stay-at-home mom then you’ve probably gotten the remarks like “Oh, you JUST stay home?” or the sideways looks that make you feel judged, like you need to explain what you do with ALL your free time. This isn’t always the case, but often it is.

     I frequently felt judged, like staying home put me at the bottom of the social ladder. I was so wrong.

     After staying home with my three kids for over five years I started an in home daycare so my husband could change careers. I got licensed but only took two young children so everyone had plenty of my attention. 

     After a few visits to the park with all five kids in tow I came to a realization. I’d dropped to a new low level of the social ladder. Now, not only did most of the working moms turn their noses up at me, the stay-at-home moms did as well.

     Needless to say, this is a generalization and only taken from my own experience over the four years I was a daycare provider, but the consensus was unmistakable. If I was a home daycare provider then I must be uneducated and unemployable in any other career and I hadn’t even married well enough that my husband could provide enough for me to stay home. It got to the point that I’d rather let people think I had five children than tell them I was a daycare provider. Just in case anyone is wondering, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in environmental biology and had the option of going to medical school but chose to stay home with my kids.

     Now, in my classes I took for my license I did meet some people who probably fit this description. They wanted to pack in as many kids as possible to make money with no thought of the quality of care they provided. What surprised me was that they had no trouble finding clients.

     The first question from everyone who called me about daycare, with the exception of one wonderful client, was how much I charged. Not about my qualifications or background with children or what we did throughout the day. No, it was always how cheap I would go. I know that money, especially now, is tight in so many families, but honestly the most important questions are rarely asked.

     It seems to be the consensus that if you are a daycare provider then it is only because you have no education and couldn’t get any other job. There is no respect for the position. How did we get to this point where the most important job, of taking care of our precious children should be given to people we don’t even respect? I just don’t understand the logic.

     I took providing daycare even more seriously than any other job I’ve had but got the least respect. This presents a serious conundrum. Important job, give it to people we think so little of? I can’t say I follow the logic.