One thing about having my child in daycare is that I feel my parenting is very much a public act. I guess in many ways it is always a public act, since much of what I describe can happen anywhere–grocery store parking lot, friend’s house, etc. But with the daycare providers also being so very familiar with my son, the public nature of parenting is encountered on a more daily basis. I first realized this on one of my many visits to his class. He always had trouble going down for a nap in daycare and many days I went to visit him and found him overdue for a nap. Of course I felt the pressure to perform my motherly duties and get him to sleep. And of course he almost never complied. And I would leave feeling like I failed some parenting test.
Now my son has become a champion sleeper. But the perils of public parenting at daycare continue. And now it’s extending to the parking lot. Which is even worse for me since his daycare is at my work. Yeah, I am beyond grateful for my employer subsidized and on-site daycare. Talk about a major perk of working there. Except when my son throws a temper tantrum when I’m trying to put him in his carseat. Given the size of my employer, I don’t work directly with (or at all) with most of the parents that I see through the daycare.
But my closest colleagues are all walking through the parking lot. And I imagine all of them watching us (and judging me) every time he screams. And he’s a toddler, so that’s just about all the time I put him in the car. I’m sure it is just in my head. I rarely actually see anyone else in the parking lot when I’m trying to get him in the car. But still it feels like all eyes are on me. This is not unique to daycare mamas; having a toddler tantrum in the grocery store seems pretty normal for any parent. But since it is happening at my place of employment, it mixes up the professional and personal aspects of my life even more. It’s hard to maintain that professional demeanor when my toddler is screaming about getting into the carseat.