Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the mixed emotions I’m feeling as my baby – the youngest of four – is finishing his final days of preschool.
In response to this post, someone commented:
“Why is your child in pre-school and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by you, the mother?”
Okay. Wow. Deep breaths. Don’t reply. Wait. Wait.
I knew responding right away would not do any good. This person obviously had their opinion on mothering and I have learned getting into an all-out Facebook comment war is like trying to walk up an escalator that’s headed down – it’s exhausting and doesn’t really get you anywhere.
I decided my best course of action was to let it go.
The next day, I came back to the comments and saw some ladies had come to my defense (Thank you kind mama bears for showing your claws.) There was some back and forth between them, ending with him saying:
“Again….it is a simple question….would love someone to answer it.”
Okay. You asked for it. Twice. So now I feel I must reply. And being a writer, I cannot reply with a mere sentence or two. Oh no. I am much more wordy than that.
You want to know why my child is in preschool and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by me – the mother?
Ironically, I read your question after I had spent the day with my son. We went to lunch and shared some sushi. We talked. We laughed. And after a brief period of time, he decided our proximity wasn’t close enough and came over to my side of the booth so we could be extra snuggly while we ate.
After lunch, we went shopping for a Birthday present. We browsed for awhile – picking up items and placing them back on the shelves and eventually ended up with a gift he helped me choose. Should I go on?
Okay. I will.
After successfully purchasing the gift, we ventured to the zoo. We walked, talked, pointed enthusiastically, made animal sounds and managed to keep the geese from eating our Dippin’ Dots.
And then I read your comment. In the car (but not while driving, I will still in the parking lot – we don’t need any more judgment here.)
I am pretty sure he felt nurtured and loved by me, the mother, all day long.
I could stop now, but I know that won’t suffice – so I will go on.
The next day, we woke up and I packed his lunch, dressed him and sent him on his way – to preschool.
Because I know myself and I know him and I honestly believe this is what is best for him.
Gasp. The nerve. How dare I?
There was a short period of time when I thought about homeschooling. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t for me or my children.
I have many friends who homeschool and they are amazing. They are dedicated, disciplined and do an exceptional job teaching. They have been called and they have answered. Do I believe God calls us all to the exact same things in life? No. Not at all.
Some moms work full-time. Some part-time. Some from home. Some from the office. Others while on the road. Some stay-at-home. Some send their kids to daycare. Others to school – some private and some public. Some homeschool.
Isn’t that awesome?
I love that we are able, with our spouse or significant other, to make choices we believe are best for our families.
When my son is at preschool, he is learning. He has friends he enjoys and teachers he loves. He comes home excited to tell me about his day. They take him to chapel and teach him about God. They go over their letters and learn silly songs.
I can hear you now, “Why don’t you do that at home?”
Who says I don’t?
I do teach him at home, but it’s more of a teaching through life lessons than actual schooling. I have tried to do worksheets and other fun educational activities and, honestly, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, it’s hard for me.
I am the mom who suffers from constant distraction. Do you know the book If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? Totally me. I am distracted by laundry, beds that need made, a house that needs cleaning, dishes that need washed, appointments that need made.
I know myself well enough to know if I homeschooled him, he would not learn as much as he learns at school. To some that may sound like rubbish or hogwash or whatever you want to call it.
For me, it sounds completely accurate.
I know myself well enough to know I would not plan properly, I would not give the time or attention it needs. I would get distracted and ultimately would grow frustrated and resentful.
Yikes. I know.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Call me lazy. Call me undisciplined. Call me uncaring. Call me what you will.
I’m telling you – it’s true.
I send my son to preschool two days a week because I believe this is the most loving, nurturing thing that I can do for him knowing his personality and knowing my deficiencies.
I love my children with a fierce love. I tell them daily how much I love them. I hug them. I am available for them. I am trying my best. Some days are better than others – the zoo day was a pretty good one. Not all days are that great, but I am trying.
And do you know what else? I send my kids to school. I get stuff done. I take a deep breaths. I check some things off my list. I meet with friends. I go for a run. And then I pick them up.
And I am refreshed. And they are smiling. And they are learning. And they are happy.
We all are happy.
This is what works for us.
This isn’t what works for everyone, but it works for us.
I have four children and not one of them is the same as the other. They are unique little people with their own personalities. Just like my husband and I are unique people. Under our roof, we have six different people who think, feel and respond in their own way to different situations.
Knowing this – it’s up to my husband and I, with prayer and careful consideration, to decide what is best for each member of our family.
And do you know what? It’s okay to start in one direction and end up in another. I have friends who have sent their kids to school and ended up homeschooling. Vice a versa – I have friends who homeschooled and then decided to send their kids to school.
I have friends who have stayed home and decided to go back to work. Vice a versa – I have friends who have quit their jobs to stay home.
And it’s okay to go different directions with different children. One of my children went to preschool for one year and another for three. Why? Because they are different people with different needs.
We are constantly growing and changing and just because we set out on one course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to change direction.
And the same goes for me. If at some point I feel called to go back to work full-time, or part-time, or even pull my kids out of school and start homeschooling them – that’s up to my husband and I.
If all parents, children and family units were the same – then they would be handing us a Parenting Handbook for All People and Situations that is Sure to Produce the Same Incredible Results when we leave the hospital, but that is impossible because we are all uniquely created and no two people are the same. No two children are the same.
No two families are the same.
And parenting is hard enough without the judgement of others.
Kudos to the moms who work part-time.
Kudos to the moms who work full-time.
Kudos to the moms who stay home.
Kudos to the moms who teach their children at home.
Kudos to the moms who send their kids to school.
Keep on keepin’ on mamas. You are doing a fantastic job. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always pretty. It looks different for everyone. Don’t compare yourselves to other mamas. Trust that God will give you the tools and the wisdom you need and remember, if you start on one course and it isn’t working for you – it’s okay to course correct. Sometimes that’s necessary.
And to anyone who wants to know why my child isn’t being raised, nurtured or loved by me- the mother – I would say that is an unfair question. You don’t know me. You don’t know my children. You don’t know my heart. If you did, I believe you would say they are being raised, nurtured and loved by both me and their father. I don’t doubt for one second my children know how much we love them. I don’t doubt they feel nurtured and cared for. I clean their boo-boos. I snuggle with them. I listen to them. I answer their questions. I attempt to guide them. And more importantly – they know the ultimate love that never fails comes from their Heavenly Father. My husband and I are guaranteed to mess up in this lifetime, but He is not. So we will just keep pointing them to Him.
And in the future, to those who feel compelled to ask the question I was asked, I would be careful. You never know where someone has come from or what they may be struggling with. I know moms who have lost their spouse. I know moms whose husbands have lost their jobs. I know moms whose marriages have fallen apart. I know moms who would like to stay home, but are not able to and that question may be like a dagger to the heart.
To all of you mamas out there, as I said before – keep on keepin’ on. Keep doing your mom thing. Do what is best for you and your family and don’t let the judgement of others weigh you down.
I know I’m not.