8.13.2013

the one where i assure the world i am not, in fact, mrs. duggar

When you're a mom, there seems to be this great divide (mostly on the internet, though I've unfortunately witnessed some in person squabbles and snide remarks, too) on staying home versus working. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and rightfully so, some of the opinions I've both read and heard have made my stomach turn. For instance, I've heard that all mothers have the ability to stay home if they cut the right corners and budget accordingly. (I would hope I don't need to point out how false this is.) I've also heard that all mothers belong as stay-at-home mothers, and it is their job to raise the children and not work. This is troubling to me, too. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with Ethan -- but it is also my choice. Before I was pregnant, we made the decision to have a family based on the knowledge that I would be able to stay at home and that this was what we both wanted for our family. There is no "one size fits all" in parenting. Some pregnancies are planned, some aren't. Some mothers want to stay home and can't, some mothers want to work and do. Ultimately, it all boils down to doing what's best for your own family and letting the rest fall into place as it may. I know many mothers who are able to stay home but make the choice to go to work outside of the home. This doesn't make them any less of a mother because of it. They are wonderful mothers who work hard and excel at careers that they love and have trained and studied for. I also have friends who would ideally want to stay home but aren't able to, and the same goes for them, just as it does my friends who are able to stay home and make the choice to do so. Ultimately, we as parents (and, you know, human beings) need to make the choices that best fit our family -- not what best fits someone else, or the judgmental mom on the internet who Knows All About Everything. I think I'm pretty fair and solid when it comes to this mindset, even if I'm defending someone who is making a choice that I did not make for myself or my own life.

One of these choices is daycare. When we decided I was able to stay home with Ethan and I made the choice to do so, I also made the choice to keep Ethan at home with me until preschool, or VPK, or simply The Year Before Kindergarten as I call it for clarification purposes. Ethan and I have fallen into a great groove with doing Tot School at home and I truly enjoy teaching him at home. (If I could open my doors to other children and start a co-op right in my living room, I would. Trust me. I love it.) At two, Ethan can identify the letters we've learned, can count to 10, can count items out to 5, can recite his ABC's, identify shapes and tell me what words start with. He can speak in six word and up sentences. We attend one -- soon to be two -- mommy and me classes a week and rarely go a single day without at least one playdate. Ethan has the opportunity to interact with similarly aged children every day, even if it means we go to the park and meet some "new friends" to play with. I'm not saying any of this to obnoxiously boast or insist my child is brilliant beyond measure, I can assure you, but just to further my point that I don't think daycare can offer him anything that I'm not or unwilling to offer him at the moment. It's true, daycare would mean separation and time away from one another, but that is not something that we are willing to choose for our family at the moment. Ethan does not enjoy being away from me, to put it mildly. We've dropped out of dance class twice because he cannot bear to be apart from me for the class and ends up sobbing until he's a puddle of short breaths and sticky, snotty tears. When this happens, everyone is quick to suggest daycare and insist that he needs to learn to be away from me. I certainly agree. I would hate for my eighteen year old child to refuse to go to college because he's still sleeping in my bed and needs to see me at all times. However, at two years old, I don't think there is anything strange about my (shy, timid) child wanting to remain at my side. I don't think there is anything weird about a baby being attached to his mother. Independence will come. I was a painfully shy child to the point where my teachers would ask my mother if there was something wrong with me (more than once), but I still managed to form adult relationships, move out at eighteen, attend college, get married and raise my own family without issue. Right now, my baby is only two years old and needs his mommy as he explores the big world around him. I am making the choice to take this adventure with him. While some parents might make the decision that daycare is a good fit and needed for their children -- and that's great they've found something that works for them -- it's not right for us right now.

I've realized the level of insanity this has reached when someone asked me if I was going to be like "Mrs. Duggar" based on the fact that my two year old is still at home with me. Suddenly our fabulous routine and tot school adventures had become something out of the norm, frowned upon and somewhat antiquated. I couldn't make the correlation between my one child, who is only two, being at home with me for two more years and being Mrs. Duggar, and I still don't. It could be that we live in a society where not putting a two year old in elective daycare is strange and weird and frowned upon and that would just mean like usual, I'm straying from the societal norms. (Why am I always on the outside looking in? Being a nonconformist was a whole lot cooler in high school when it at least guaranteed you a spot at a certain lunch table.) The similar lines have continued to roll in: I think I'm Super Mom, I think I can teach better than teachers, don't I wish I could just get a break from my kid, don't I think he could learn more in daycare, don't I -- don't I -- I don't. I don't think any of these things. I'm certainly not a Super Mom and I'm pretty clear about how high my laundry piles can go or how dirty my hair is. I think teachers are amazing and hats off to anyone who wants to be in charge of educating young minds and future generations, and I eagerly anticipate the honor of enrolling Ethan in our local public school system. I get a break from my kid when he goes to sleep at night or on the off chance he naps (let's not kid ourselves, this last one doesn't happen) and that's good for me, for right now. I'm also pretty content with what he's learning at home with me in Tot School right now, which my elementary school teaching friends have assured me is more than adequate for a life of success in elementary school. And, more than anything, I love our time together. He's only two years old. I only have two more years with him until preschool and three until Kindergarten and these moments, this time, these days together -- I want to enjoy them. Like everything else in life, they will come to an end and I will watch his backpack grow smaller and smaller as he continues down a hallway to his classroom.

But for right now, we are standing by our choice to keep Ethan at home. Sometimes I find myself so deep in defending our choices that my brain feels like it's steps away from exploding. It shouldn't be this hard to defend that I want to keep my two year old at home. It shouldn't come down to having to convince friends that I don't think they're horrible parents or people or lesser on some imaginary parenting scale than myself for making a choice different than my own. It should just be whatever it is that is is, which is our family functioning the way we want it to and always hoped that it would be able to.

8 comments:

  1. I love your blog and all the amazing things you do with Ethan.
    Although I work, and my daughter is in day care, it just works for us, and it's been great so far.
    I ALWAYS love to hear about both my stay at home moms and working moms days and activities. I realize that we all have the same stresses, worries, and amazing moments with our kids. We all have different ones too, but we do our best to make sure our children are happy and healthy.
    I love that my friends all do things differently, and they do what works for them. I learn so much from everyone, and it's so refreshing to see parenting from all different families.
    I love seeing the activities you do in tot school, and will be incorporating some activities during my time with my daughter on the weekends.
    Thanks for sharing your days with us!

    Marian & Sophia

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  2. I'm so envious of the things you do with Ethan! I'm a sahm and I feel guilty because my 3 year old is going to be in 5 day a week preschool this year. I wish I could school him at home but I know I'm not good at that! we'll have the afternoons together though...

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  3. I don't get why people get so upset about parenting choices. I've worked and stayed home at different phases with both kids and it feels like people have been judgemental about both, as in some people are just negative and feel like they need to play the devil's advocate. I personally would prefer for my kids to attend a school when they are old enough simply because I know I'm not the best authoritative figure, but I know several moms really rock the homeschooling thing and I respect that.

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  4. Wow, he's two. TWO! I mean...I can not imagine anyone saying something like this to me and legitimately believing it. If you're home and doing everything a daycare would and MORE, why isn't that alright??? You never complain about Ethan. Even when you relay the struggles of having a child this age, which we all experience, working or not - you always always manage to find the silver lining and your love for the way you're living this time in your lives shines through!


    I can only surmise that people who say these things are jealous? Jealous of patience, understanding, and talent. Teaching and helping a young person along requires all of that, and it isn't something everyone comes by naturally. Obviously you do, and use your resources outstandingly. Instead of trying to tear you down and make you feel unsure of yourself and your decisions these people should be looking to themselves and rising up a little, OR having confidence in their own decisions and owning them as well.

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  5. What's terrible is that you feel you even have to defend this choice. Seriously. I'm starting to become more and more aware that, though there are exceptions, we are a generation of lazy parents.

    I remember when I was pregnant with Willow someone asking me if I was going to put Olivia (who wasn't even two years old when she was born) in daycare when Willow was born. I was so taken aback....why? Why would I do that? I didn't have my children just to give them away to someone else to raise and teach. And what kind of message would I be sending her if I stuck her in some daycare the same time I brought a new baby home? Why would I not want her home sharing in the joy, bonding with her sibling, being a part of our new family of four? No thanks. I'll keep my own kids. I fully believe God has equipped me with the skills I need to raise my babies. I wouldn't give that up for the world!

    You do an AMAZING job with Ethan. Keep it up. He is blessed to have you as a mama. This world needs more moms who desire that time with their kids. It's precious, you don't get it back, enjoy it while it's right in front of you...the good, the hard, the trying...ALL.OF.IT!!

    XO

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  6. I agree with Racehl - why are people so nosy? And if you sent him to daycare or something, I'm sure they'd say something too. Do your friends/family know you blog? You could always just send them this way and let them know you document the good AND the bad and it isn't all unicorns... people are so strange. they always think they can tell you how to raise your kid better, right??

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  7. Being a SAHM is an amazing gift and blessing and my hats are off to you and those like you! I don't understand why people feel the need to comment and judge us as mothers for our choices, it's crazy. You have such a beautiful family and your son is very, very lucky to have you!

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