NPR has an interview out with Slate’s Emily Bazelon on the latest news headlines about daycare being bad for kids thus adding to the whole mommy guilt epidemic.

This reminds me of the time I sprained my ankle when I was about ten. The doc told me to walk on it after a while. You know, just to get the stiffness out.

My mother, who apparently moonlit as a chiropractor, said that the important thing was that I had to feel pain. If I felt nothing, I wasn’t doing it right.

“You have to walk where it’s most painful! Pain means it’s healing!” were her exact words.

This logic, deeply flawed as it is, has survived millenia, to be the holy grail of supermom wannabes.

The character Liza Hamilton in Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a classic example. A woman who works 18 hours a day for her nine children and husband, never speaks above a hush to get her point across, never complains or gets ill (even if she does, nobody knows), is so miserable to be alive because she believes only pain and suffering will earn her a place in mommy heaven.

Today, moms have it all. We have our careers. We have our machines. In Malaysia, no new mother in her right mind dares to wing it without a freshly minted maid from Indonesia or Cambodia or the Philippines.

But as privileged as we are, deep down, we are all Liza Hamiltons. We want to do it all because we’re just not suffering enough. And because we’re not suffering enough, there grows a ball of guilt in our guts, guilt that’s fed by statistics and studies and news reports that keep telling us that we’re NOT doing enough and NOT doing it right.

That until and unless we let our inner Liza Hamiltons take over, we will never be real mothers.

Look at what happened when someone decided to have cocktails at a playdate. And God forbid that we take an hour off to read a book while the kids watch The Wiggles. Drop your kids off at a daycare so you can earn enough to feed them? What were you thinking?!

If Liza were here today – and real – she would be pursing her lips, shaking her head and fanning the guilt fires with her bellows.

What I wanna know is who commissions these researches anyway? And what the hell use would such data be to parents who have to work? Are there stay-at-home parents out there who send their children to full-time daycare so they can sit around on their asses all day? Is this US$200 million study to tell those parents a thing or two?

I mean, why not use some of that money to fund research on specific kinds of activities and curriculum working parents can use to engage their children after work? Or how about a study on how to improve daycare centers, as mentioned in the ABC article? Or a study on what working parents can do to supplement or neutralise, if any, ‘negative effects wrought by mediocre daycare?

Nobody decides to have kids and then spends money to screw them up unless you’re Courtney Love. We all do what we can to make ends meet, and to be the best parents we can be. I say take to heart the positive aspects of this study, and use the negative stats as a reminder to check and recheck the daycare your child is in.

Do your research. Trust your instincts. Make it work. That’s more than what I, a self-professed SAHM, can claim to do!