So I am writing this knowing many of you probably won’t agree, and I get that. And I am not even sure how to start this other than just jump in. I have 5 children. With my oldest child, I was a single mother working, going to school and trying to prove to everyone that I wouldn’t be a co-dependant daddy hopping statistic. I was fortunate to find a wonderful daycare provider whom we still love very much. So I have been on both sides of this issue. Fast forward 14 years and I have 4 more children and have stayed home with them for the last 7 years. I gave up my career, pretty much nullified my degree and when one income for our large family wasn’t enough, I started doing daycare from our home to help out. I love children–I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t. And when you get to a certain point, a few more children is not a big deal. I have cut down a great over the last 6 months and now have two daycare boys who are wonderful. I truly love them and would do anything for them–they have wonderful parents (which when you do daycare, you find that to be not so common) and I feel blessed to have them in our lives.
Here’s the rub. I have a huge problem with what society is molding us and our children in to. What is that goal, ultimately? I am 32 and when I was school age, only a few went to preschool and kindergarten was every other day. Daycares were not the businesses they are today. Kids now days are shuffled from daycare, to preschool, to God only knows how many other extra curriculars. The whole thing seems very sterile to me. While I know parents are trying to be supportive, trying to make sure their children have skills, trying to make up for all the lost time, what happened to family dinners? What happened to quiet time to just exist together?
I try very hard to always put my children’s needs and what’s best for them ahead of what everyone else expects socially. There was a huge stink when I decided to pull my 2 children out of elementary this year and homeschool them. Maybe I am crazy. But it seemed pretty cut and dry to me. My daughter was struggling and wants to be a great student and she wasn’t going to achieve that at public school. But holy hell do people take issue when you do something out of the percieved normal behavior. Why was it so hard to believe that I might actually know what is best for my child? I was actually incredibly insulted when the principal said he felt they knew what was best for her. Do you even know her? It is a small school, and I respect him, but come on. You do NOT know my child. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you actually have a personal relationship with my child. You say hi to her in the hallways and give her achievement awards. You know she is a well behaved child, or rather, you know she is not a badly behaved child. You don’t KNOW her. You don’t know her worries, fear, and insecurities. You don’t know her dreams and what makes her giggle uncontrollably. You don’t know her sense of humor and her little mean streak.
Back to the issue. If we are not taking care of our own children….who is? And by extension, if we are not the ones there bonding with our children, who are we asking them to bond with? Maybe it is the ugly truth of this world, that truly, most of us have other people raising our children from the time they are 6 weeks old. As I said before, I love my old daycare lady, but I will always have that twinge of jealousy for all the time she got to spend with my son. The firsts I missed. The hugs, kisses, funny moments. How he STILL idealizes her to my shortcomings. And now I do daycare. This morning, one of my four year olds had an epic meltdown before he even got here because he doesn’t want to go to preschool today. The usually very sweet, mild mannered little boy was kicking, screaming and crying uncontrollably at the thought of having to leave here this afternoon and go to school. I love his mother–she is a wonderful mother. But all the same, she had to unwrap his arms from around her neck, pry him off and leave him crying while she went to work. So who gets to deal with the emotional mess? Because work has to be priority, as ugly as that truth is. He MUST go to preschool. I would never interfere with another parents’ choices–it is my position to enforce their decision that he go to school. But why does he have to go to preschool? To me, clearly he is not ready. The upset it causes is terrible. How much does he retain? What is supposed to be the lesson in all that? When I asked him if he knew why it was so important to go to school he said ‘So I can make more money’. What!? I was going to say so he can meet lots of new friends and learn fun and interesting things and play new games. And we all know all that is overrated. The few good things the kids take from school is often overshadowed but some shithead in their class that is mean and doesn’t know how to behave. And someone will say, well, there are shitheads all throughout life so they might as well learn to deal with them now. That’s all fine and dandy but what I am really trying to get at is, is it possible that our society as a whole has accepted the theory that it is right and proper for our children to bond at the youngest of ages, with strangers? If I hear ‘oh, children adapt’ one more time, I might scream. What does that mean? Do they adapt, or does the experience change something in them fundamentally and we just will never know? Does adapt mean they don’t turn out to be sociopaths? I know some parents have no choice but to work and have someone else watch their children–I was that parent. But so many parents DO have the choice and why is it many choose to work? And by choice, I don’t mean that the one spouse makes a comfortable living. For sure there are ‘sacrifices’. We are always broke. We don’t have nice things. I am sure some people think I am selfish for staying home and not providing that monetary support for my children but I do think it is way more important that I am here, every day, every night, for my children. Like it or not, when you work outside the home, how many times does work come before your children? Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can make up for that time. It’s gone. Forever. The comment ‘oh you just stay home?’ will get someone punched someday. Have you ever stayed home with your child for more than a weekend? Every day all day? It’s not like you are on vacation. It is work raising children. The notion that daycares do work but it’s not work for a stay at home mom is the most ridiculous concept and yet, that seems to be a commonly accepted rational.
Children need human touch. Children need comfort. Both those things build confidence. They need consistency and to know they can trust you. What happens if you take those things away? Is it the price one pays to meet society’s expectations of what your child should be doing?