About a week ago I was picking D2 up from the half-day toddler program at Montessori and just making chit chat with his teacher. I asked her how he was doing. “He’s doing great” she tells me, “but he keeps asking for someone named Eva. Who takes care of him in the afternoon?” I tell her Eva is his nanny who has been with our family since he was two and half months old. She looks at me sympathetically, head cocked to the side and says, “He asks for her all the time.” I say well he’s very attached to her. From my point of view it’s no big deal. But all of a sudden I started feeling just a bit defensive.
I’ve since started to notice that D2 asks for Eva a lot these days. On the weekends, which she has off, he pretends to call her on the phone. When she leaves for the day, he’ll ask me in toddler-speak where she is, “Eva car?” “Eva outside?”. Any time he sees a red Toyota Corolla he thinks it’s her. For some reason this attachment doesn’t bother me that much but Dr. D. has given me the hairy eyeball more than once on this issue. Occasionally, he’ll needle me and say something like, ” I wonder if I ask D2 who his mother is what he’ll say?” or “Do you think D2 knows you are his mother?” My answer is always the same. Don’t be silly, of course he knows I’m his mother. Stupid question. But then I get that little voice of doubt in the back of my head. He knows, right?
Do I feel like a bad mother because my son adores his caregiver and spends a significant amount of time with her every day? No. Do I wish I had more time with him every day myself? Yes. Do I wonder how it looks to other people (like D2′s teachers) when my son talks about her so much? Sometimes. But I’m thrilled that my son has someone he loves and trusts so much. I can go to work every day knowing he is safe, happy and well-cared for.
My friend Blessing over at Working Mom Journal has written a lot about working mother guilt and the challenges of childcare. I’ve always said that I don’t feel guilty about working or the choices that I’ve made to make sure that D2 has a wonderful and fulfilling childhood. I’d feel worse if I honestly thought I wasn’t a good mother but I know I am. I make sure all of the time we do have together is quality time from getting him ready in the morning, to story time every night and lots of time together on the weekends. We also co-sleep (And yes, I know all about the controversy surrounding this often-done but little discussed practice in the US. But I don’t care.) and so I go to bed and wake up each morning with my son’s little face right near me. I’m sure this all sounds like I am justifying my choices but really, I’m not. I just wish I didn’t care so much about what other people thought about this issue.
So, this past weekend D2 and I were doing our normal weekend Target run and a couple stopped to fawn over him. He gave them a huge grin, pointed to me and said, “Mommy!” That’s right. I am. My son knows who his mother is and at the end of the day, that’s all I need.