First things first: Daycare teachers perform a vitally important job—often for far too little pay. Working moms know just what a tremendous debt we owe them, since we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs without them. So, to daycare teachers everywhere: Thank you for all you do to keep our kids safe, healthy and happy. We love you, we need you, we worship you.
But sometimes I’m not so sure some if my child’s teachers reciprocate the warm and fuzzy feelings. In my experience, being a working mom means juggling a million balls at once—and getting lots of side eye from some of my kid’s teachers when inevitably one of those balls drop.
If you’re a working mom who sends your kid to daycare and has ever fudged or forgotten a rule, you know the tone I’m talking about: the one that implies you’ve prioritized work over your precious child, you’re a terrible mother and your kid is going to end up in juvie one day.
Logically, I know that’s not what my tyke’s teacher is thinking, but mom guilt is strong stuff. So, daycare teachers, do us working moms a solid: When one of these problems below arise, treat us with compassion and understanding. We’re doing the best we can, just like you.
1. Sending our kid to school with a sniffle.
We promise we’re not trying to infect the entire class. We’re just out of paid time off for the year, and we’d like to keep our job. If it’s a fever or something serious, we’ll keep him home—so can you let a cough or two slide?
2. Same goes for loose poops.
Here’s a fun fact I learned the hard way: When a young kid gets diarrhea, it can totally wreck her intestinal lining, which means loose poops can last for weeks—weeks!—after the kid is actually contagious. No working parent I know can miss work for weeks, alas. If our pediatrician says our kid is OK to go back to school, can you just trust us?
3. Forgoing regular haircuts.
We know how obvious it is that we haven’t taken our bub to the barber in weeks, er, months. The thing about hair, though, is that it doesn’t matter if it’s longer than other kids’, like, at all. He might not pass for a mini GQ model with that mop, but you don’t need to mention his unkempt ‘do if it’s not bugging the child sporting it.
4. Long nails.
If our kid is perpetually slicing and dicing up his classmates, by all means, say something. But if we were on a work trip last week and they’re just a smidge long, let it go until we’re back to our regularly scheduled manicure program, please.
5. Not enough tummy time.
Some babies just hate tummy time. No, we don’t keep our infant locked away in a cradle in the closet all weekend long.
6. Bug bites and sunburns.
Have you seen the prehistoric beasts roaming the skies these days? There’s no amount of organic bug spray that can take those blood-suckers down. And as for my tot's rosy cheeks, mea culpa, I forgot sunscreen for 10 minutes. Yes, I am clearly trying to kill him.
7. Seasonally inappropriate clothing.
When we left the house, it was warm and sunny. Now, it’s snowing. Mother nature is a fickle bitch, and it turns out I can’t fit my child’s entire wardrobe in my work bag.
8. Potty-training problems.
Do you think I like wiping my kid’s butt? I’d make a deal with the devil to get him out of diapers. Alas, the devil hasn’t yet offered, so until then, I swear to continue to work on it. No reminders needed, I assure you.
9. Not packing healthy snacks.
We don’t feed our kids chocolate cake every day, but when the pantry is empty, we’re running late or they’re on a veggie strike (again), desperate times call for desperate measures. They’ll live.
10. Not packing enough breastmilk.
Breast-pumping is pretty much the worst, but we dutifully ditch meetings, hook ourselves up like a cow in a musty closet, and eke out just enough liquid gold to keep our kid fed. Then he hits a growth spurt, and our pumping plan goes to hell. We’re trying. We’re trying SO hard. And our hormones are still a bit haywire. Please be kind to us.
11. Arriving right before pick-up time.
Let’s make a deal: We’ll do our best to pick our kid up before closing time—even on days when our commute is a living nightmare—if you’ll refrain from rolling your eyes when we run in at 5:59.
12. Lackluster fundraising.
Look, we passed around the magazine sign-up and sent emails about the raffle tickets and tried to get Grandma to buy the sheets. We simply don’t have time to be the class’s top-earner. Can we just cut a check?
13. Biting and hitting.
We know it’s an issue, and we’re happy to work with you to resolve it in any way we can. But just remember we already feel agony that our kid is the problem child; a neutral, no-nonsense, judgment-free approach is greatly appreciated.
14. Not being able to attend the mid-week, mid-day event.
Yes, the field trip to the farmer’s market looks super fun, and we’d love to join. But we have to save our time off for all of the holidays when the center is closed.
15. Not calling to check up.
I had no idea I was supposed to ring in the middle of the day to make sure the kid is OK! Silly me, I thought he was fine in the hands of capable pros.
16. Not answering when daycare calls during work.
Sometimes we’re in a meeting, or on a plane, or savoring a moment of much-needed peace in the restroom. And sometimes Dad is the primary contact. We’re not ignoring you, we promise, and we’ll call you back as soon as we can. No need to give us grief when we do.
This article originally appeared on Working Mother.
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