This summer, my son is going to child care while I sit at home, doing absolutely nothing. I’m not even sarcastically face-slapping all those people who wonder what stay-at-home moms do all day.

Sure, I’ll probably do a load of laundry and mop the floor while he’s gone, but that’s not why I’m sending him. I have every intention of reclining in the hammock with a book and cool beverage while he’s gone.

I spent the better part of 10 years casting harsh judgement against other parents who did the same thing, while I worked as a preschool teacher and child care provider. Parents would say things like, “If you need me, just call the home phone. I’m not working today.”

I used to throw judgement daggers out my eyes, hoping to pierce them with my shameful scorn. You have a day off work and you don’t want to spend it with your kid?! So many parents would kill for extra time with their young ones! Even if you are only doing housework, couldn’t your kids be there with you? Just appreciate a few extra hours in their presence! This free time is a gift — and you’re throwing it away!

And think of your poor child! Doesn’t he deserve a day off too?! Let him stay home in his pajamas and unwind. Get him out of the highly structured environment he is in every single day!

Even before I was a parent, I understood it was easier to accomplish certain things without little helpers underfoot. I had 30 “helpers” in my classroom and I cherished naptime just as much as any other sanity-seeking adult. But those parents who regularly left their kids in my care while they were off gallivanting really got on my nerves.

I figured they were either:

  • Tightwads hoping to get their money’s worth (if they paid for a week of care, they were going to get a week of care).
     
  • Monsters who didn’t fully appreciate their lovely children.

Well, now I can add a third option to that list.

  • Sacrificial parents who are only hoping to do what’s best for their kids.

I came about this revolutionary discovery while suffering as a victim of Spring Break. Yes, I used “victim” and “Spring Break” in the same sentence, and I wasn’t talking about unsightly tan lines or keg stand induced hangovers.

My son had an entire week off school. I had visions of sleeping late, enjoying leisurely breakfasts comprised of complex foods I don’t usually have time to prepare, taking trips to the park, making fabulously messy art projects, and much more. We would spend five glorious days in each other’s company.

Here’s what really happened. On Monday, my son was in tears by 10 a.m. On Tuesday, the waterworks started at 8:30 a.m. By Friday, I was locked in the bathroom with my fingers jammed in my ears, bawling as loudly as he was.

I figured the party I was tempted to throw Sunday night, the eve of his return to school, would be considered indecent, so I refrained. Barely.

You see, my son is a creature of habit. His routine is carved in stone and woe be unto those who try to change it.

I’m sure it’s my fault. I’m to blame somehow for creating this schedule-loving monster. But the way I see it, the damage is done. Rather than try to break his little spirit and inject some spontaneity into his life, I’m just going to let him be who he is. And if I have to change my expectations of life, that’s just fine.

So, I’m sending him to child care this summer. While not the exact same as what he’s used to every day, I can do my best to keep him in his comfort zone. He can leave the house at the same time, play with friends, get thoroughly worn out, and sleep like a baby at night.

In the meantime, I’ll look for other ways to have special alone time with my son. If we can’t have five uninterrupted days of fun, we can have a Saturday morning trip to the bakery for a donut. We can have an impromptu water fight in the driveway while washing the car. We can snuggle in the hammock and read books for hours. We can have long, in-depth conversations in the car. We can make up silly stories about strange things we find at the grocery store.

I will intentionally miss out on “quality” time with my kid in order to do what’s best for him. I’m not lazy. I don’t hate my son. I’m trying to do whatever it is that will help us all make it to the end of the day in one piece.

Don’t judge me, I won’t judge you, and for Pete’s sake…let’s stop judging ourselves.