If I had a quarter for everytime I started a question with the phrase, "Am I a bad Mom if...", I might have about $2.50. That's only because I usually keep those thoughts to myself rather than inflicting them on helpless strangers and acquaintances. My good friends know better than to let me complete any thought that starts out with that question because then they feel obliged to shout out, "No. You're a GREAT Mom!!" whether I really am or not.
Yesterday I realized that I was looking forward to Zac going to preschool and elementary school so he would get a chance to learn more during the day. About midway through that realization, I started getting a little worked up. I don't have to accept Zac's current daycare situation. "There must be something better out there," I rationalized.
His large chain daycare center watches 132 children, although the sign on the door from the fire department states that the max occupancy for the building is 102. Zac's "classroom" is in the middle of a large room divided with mobile walls and knee-high bookcases. It's a little like a toddler coral in a big kid rodeo. Fortunately, all of the kids in his class are shorter than the bookcases, so they probably don't even notice the other world of activity occuring 3 feet above the ground. There also most likely too busy sitting on each other and dodging large push toys to really pay attention to much else. There are 14 kids and 1 teacher coralled in a space (I swear I'm not making this up) approximately 10' x 15'. Each kid gets about one square foot of space, which is the legal state limit for both space and student to teacher ratio. 1 teacher is responsible for the emotional, physical, and developmental well-being of every child in her class.
I couldn't even keep the butts clean of 14 children, let alone manage their development. I'm just not happy with his daycare situation. He doesn't come home with many bruises and he's obviously being well-fed there, as his large Budda belly indicates. Every morning, he greets his teacher with a big smile and sometimes even throws his arms out to her so she can take him from my arms. He's clearly a favorite among the large, chain daycare staff and gets more attention than most of the other kids. For the "privilege" of going to work five days a week, 9 hours a day, I pay over $7,000 annually for someone else to watch my kid in a space smaller than most full-size SUVs.
Am I a bad Mom for wanting more?
I started researching other daycare options in Houston. Good Lord! I had no idea that Montessori schools were only for the rich and that any facility that puts an emphasis on education feels empowered to charge twice the amount of a daycare. There are tuitions at state universities in this country that cost less than these places. $900 - $1100 per month? Sure, I have an extra eleven grand or so floating around my checking account. Please, feel free to pillage all my money and ensure that I'll never be able to afford a downpayment on a house. That would be great. Oh, I'll make it easy for you and just give you my entire checkbook. That will save me the inconvenience of manually signing over my paycheck to you each month.
At least when you're in college you can get government-subsidized loans. Can I get a loan for daycare? Zac can do some puzzles and doesn't bite, can that qualify him for a merit-based scholarship?