My mom started to work when I was 5. She got out of work early enough to be there for most of my afternoon (I must have been in Kindergarten.) She worked in the school lunch room (a lunch room lady! at MY school!)
She worked “full time” (at a bank) when I was about 7 or 8. I still remember the day when I got home from school, and she wasn’t there. I did not like that. I missed her. The fact that I still remember it means that it made a big impression on me.
Then my mom got a fulltime job at a bank, and got home later (about 7 pm, I guess). I was then a “latch key kid”, and I really kind of hated it. I had older sisters (the oldest is 6 years older than me) so there really was no reason why I should have had to be stuck outside after school. But my sisters didn’t want to come home from school right away to look after me, so I was on my own for a few hours after school. Except that I HAD to stay with the mean neighbor lady (unless I could escape her notice, and hide in the backyard). Finally my parents “allowed” me to have a key, so I could get in the house by myself.
My dad had weird hours (he left for work at about 9 am) so we saw him in the morning. He was a bit of a “Mr. Mom” in that he’d make us our school lunches, but he SUCKED at it. (He couldn’t slice cheese, and wouldn’t get pre-sliced cheese. I remember having these cheese sandwiches with “triangles” of cheese in them. Packed in huge grocery-sized brown paper bags. Complete mortification for a little kid! I still carry those emotional scars.)
Looking back, it would have been much nicer (for me, anyway) if my mom hadn’t gone to work fulltime, or at least not with those hours. I was stuck with the creepy neighbor lady, and I hated that. Also, I still envy my older sisters when they talk about all the fun and neat things that they did when my mom was at home full time. (“Remember when she took us to the park?” “Remember when we made those crafts?”) And I was too young to remember any of it.
Sure, when I was in school she got home a few hours after I got home (so it wasn’t too bad) but in the summer - she wasn’t there all day because of her job. My sisters got to have these great summers with her (pre-job), and I don’t remember any of that. I feel cheated, dammit!
I don’t think I was a socially backwards kid, though. My parents took me to a preschool, starting when I was 3-4, I guess. (I still remember where it is, I pass by it sometimes.) I just didn’t go to a fulltime daycare. I don’t think I missed out on anything because of that. I feel fortunate that I had my mom at home as long as I did.