by Andrea Dake
Like most moms, I find myself constantly second guessing the parenting decisions I make. As a mom to a 4 year old, questions like “How much sugar has he had today….no, he really shouldn’t have ice cream tonight then”, and “Ishould have made him watch something educational during ‘settle time’ instead of “How to Train Your Dragon”. Or, the ever popular “His feet stink. Can I get away with just washing his feet or do I need to give him a whole bath? I’m pretty tired.” And there are always the more important decisions to make like “should we send him to public school or private school?”, “should we start allergy shots now or wait until he can understand why he has to get an injection every week”.
It is proven that women are better at multi-tasking than men and to that extent, I think we mentally pull information from multiple sources when making decisions. Naturally, all of these contradicting “facts” make us second guess ourselves and we get stuck in a circle of uncertainty.
I recently had the unfortunate experience of not liking my son’s daycare teacher, and I couldn’t pin-point why. There was no real concerning behavior. In fact, she was almost too accommodating. Then, another classroom mom approached me saying that she hoped my son was ok since the teacher told her that she had to use my son’s Epi-Pen on him. I was shocked, but mostly confused. I didn’t understand why his teacher would lie about something so easily disproven, much less share that type of private information with another parent. The other mom was also shocked and said she would come to me if the teacher told her anything else about my son.
I had no idea what to do. Do I say something to the daycare Program Administrator? Hearing it second hand made me wonder if his teacher had really said it, or was it just gossip? Would I be getting this teacher in trouble unjustly if it ended up being gossip? I had reservations about his teacher but that didn’t mean she was a terrible person. I asked my husband what he thought I should do and as opinionated about certain subjects as he can be, he was completely supportive of whatever conclusion I came to. Great. No help.
After much thought and getting advice from family, I decided to just pay closer attention when my son was telling me about his day, read his “Daily Report” thoroughly and to make sure that I touch base with his teacher if I saw her when I dropped him off, which was rare. His class would be switching teachers in another month anyway, so surely I could endure this teacher for 4 more weeks. Surely. Right?
The teacher switch went off without a hitch and I loved his new teacher.
Fast forward to June 2014 when on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was reading the local news online, only to see a mug shot of my son’s former teacher. The news article stated that she had been arrested at the daycare center she currently worked at for abusing a 9 month old baby, who was now in Children’s Hospital in critical condition. I just about spit out my coffee. Colorful language, that I’m not particularly proud of, followed.
My stomach turned and I immediately plunged into feelings of deep guilt. My internal dialogue was on a loop sounding something like this: I should have said something. I should have voiced my concerns then when I suspected something wasn’t right. If I had, would she have gotten fired? Would her being fired from one day care have prevented her from getting hired at another one? Would it have prevented what happened to this precious baby? Did I do my son a disservice? I’m supposed to be his advocate – what if something had happened to him?
And on and on it went. I barely slept that night. The guilt consumed me.
I’ve since spoken to my husband about it and he has helped tremendously to put things into perspective. We all do the best that we can as parents and make the best decisions we can with the tools and information we have. There’s no “right or wrong” or “black and white”. He is absolutely right. But the one thing I have learned from this is to trust my gut-instincts as a mother. Speak up. I didn’t because I was afraid to rock the boat. Rock the boat. I will never allow those gut feelings to just gnaw away at me again – I will always trust my instincts and if they’re wrong, that’s ok. I did the best I could with the tools and information I had.
Too often as parents, we fall into the “group mentality” of going along with whatever the majority decides, whether it is actually how we feel or not, for fear of disrupting the general consensus. But, we are our children’s advocate and no one knows them better than us. As a parent, I will always ‘rock the boat’ for the sake of my son because I never again want to see the consequences of my choice not to.