How many people does it take to raise a child?
This is not a trick question, though the answer will vary depending on who you ask.
There are many single parents who miraculously rear a little human being into a productive member of society all on their own. They wear many hats and act as the mom, dad, teacher, etc. Then you have your dual-parent households where the responsibilities are split and mommy is in charge of the children's nutrition, and daddy is responsible for diapers and checking homework.
And then you have me. If you ask me how many people it takes to raise a child, my answer is six grown adults. Yes, that is correct - a 6:1 ratio to raise a 26-inch little person. No doubt you are counting on your fingers trying to figure out my calculation: 1 is Mommy, 2 is Daddy, 3 is ... stuck on the rest? Let me give you a hint, they are actually younger than me and watch my daughter all day while I earn a living. If you guessed daycare teachers, then you would be correct.
When I first realized I would need to send my baby to daycare, so I could return to work, I was upset and quite truthfully dreading it. After my husband and I toured the facility (while I still just had a bun in the oven) we were impressed. We still disliked the idea of sending our daughter to daycare, but we were impressed with both the teachers and the facility.
Even with our newfound confidence in our daycare, we felt that it was in our daughter's best interest to spend just a little bit longer with Mommy and not an "other."
Now that my daughter has been under the care of the teachers at daycare for quite a few months, I can see that she is in very capable hands and laugh at how much time I wasted stressing myself out.
Since this is our first child, my husband and I have a stack of child rearing books and magazines that we read to help direct us on appropriate milestones and acceptable times to introduce new foods. Our "surrogate moms" rely on previous experience, and many times get to experience new events before us.
They called me at work to announce that my daughter had rolled over ... a milestone we had been waiting to see and practiced at home with her often. I literally had just dropped her off at daycare and doesn't she show off her newfound talent to her teachers, rather than mommy who had been working with her day and night to master this skill.
My daughter is at the age where she should be trying new "adult" foods and getting weaned off the pureed texture of baby food. I have tried to get her to eat pizza, turkey and cheese, you name it. In one quick swift swipe of the arm it is off the table and onto the floor, or splat on the wall. But when I bring home her daily reports from school, apparently pizza is her favorite, and she enjoys turkey and cheese. So I rely on the daycare teachers to fill me in on their tricks so I too can feed my daughter!
Recently I received a call at work from the school. My co-worker quipped, "your daughter got in trouble!" Usually I receive a call at work if she is sick or just being fussy. This call was to announce "your daughter is walking!" OK, well she is not running marathons, but she was repeatedly taking quite a few steps on her own.
I was excited to receive this great news and texted my husband so he could share in the joy as well. Later that night we tried to re-create the act to no avail. Isabella would not have any part in walking, she was content crawling for us, but walking at daycare.
And that is when I realized the teachers at daycare play such an important role in her life, and in ours. They are the other set of parents that push her to do more and broaden her depth of experiences. They will implement something new, like eating a new food, or using a walker, and it gives us the green light to follow suit.
The truth is, we rely not only our daycare teachers for their knowledge, but also the experiences of our friends and family to help guide us into parenthood. So how many people does it take to raise a child? For us, it takes a small village.