As a stay at home mom, the thought of enrolling my kids in daycare never even crossed my mind. Why do we need daycare? I am at home and can teach them anything I want, bring them to a million cool places, cook them proper meals three times a day and love on them 24/7.
What more do they need?
Alain has been with his company for seventeen years and has become a valuable part of upper management. This security has blessed us with the ability to live on one income. So really, going back to work and putting the kids in daycare was crazy; I hated the idea of losing time with them during these crucial years when it wasn’t necessary.
When we really started to get serious about having kids, I told him that I wanted to quit working and stay home with them until kindergarten. Give me the most important years when they are little sponges and I am able control what they do, see and say. Let me instill as many values and traditions as I can before this great big world takes them from me. I had a plan. I researched, asked friends, read studies…everything I could think of to be the best mom I could be while I had them at my fingertips. Who needs daycare when you have a mom who is 110% committed and refuses to fail?
I had a hard time when the doctors told me that the kids needed to be in daycare. All I heard was “You failed. You aren’t enough. A stranger can do better. They need someone besides their mom. You aren’t enough for them” Dramatic? For sure. But that didn’t change my mind in those first few moments. It took days, and a lot of eye rolling from my husband, for me to end the pity party and really hear what was being said.
Brooklynn doesn’t talk and is incredibly shy. Lincoln, has absolutely no problems in social settings, is fearless and is independent. As the doctor said, “the only thing these two have in common is a shared womb”. Night and day. Which makes total sense…my little Pisces babies. Their astrological sign is two fish. A literal Ying and Yang. Lord help me if they were Geminis!
Truth is, no one can be everything for everyone all the time. This is why it takes a village to raise a child. My village needed to grow and I had to step down off my high horse and let it happen.
Our first visit to a playgroup was with my cousin, which doesn’t count because it became social hour for me while the kids played with their own generation of cousins. Our second attempt changed me. I sat there, in a room of strangers, nodding politely as the elite regulars made their rounds and chatted among themselves. I felt, and probably looked, really awkward as I attempted to make eye contact with anyone who gave me a second glance. I felt like the lioness circling her prey, waiting to attack. In reality, I just needed a reason to move away from the garbage can I had inadvertently become besties with. Sorry Mom Brigade, that stink face I was making was not directed at you. It was the rotting yogurt and poop diaper perfume I was marinating in. My bad!
I watched as the kids played in the sandbox until a little boy came over and scared them off. I watched as Brooklynn tried to choose a book off a table, but then had it ripped from her hands for no apparently reason. I sat there, watching my babies turn to stone when a group of kids rushed by them, waving foam swords and singing a pirate song. Right then, I had a moment. A moment when I knew I was wrong. Yes, my kids are sweet and kind and creative and playful…but only at home. At home where they are comfortable and have their own toys, their own rules of how make believe games are played and where the puzzles go when they are done. I sat there watching my kids, in the middle of a room filled with laughing children and colorful toys, and they had no idea what to do. Yes Dr. D., I hear you now. I get it.
They need daycare. I need daycare. We all need daycare.
As an adult, it is completely acceptable to pick and choose who you associate with. You can have 100 friends or just 1. But that is your choice. You’ve done your time and have earned the right to choose. I realized in that moment, that what my kids need from me right now, is not to give them a choice. They must be forced to interact with kids their own age. They need to learn how to approach the quiet kid in the corner and invite them to play dodgeball. They need to experience rejection from the girl in the sandbox who doesn’t want to share. They need to feel as sense of belonging with the pirate kids. Patience, compassion, kindness…all of these values that I was trying to teach at home, need to come from their peers. Kids just like them, and even some who are older that can teach them the ropes of being a toddler.
I know for a fact, any time an adult tried to teach me something from their own experience, it meant nothing. I had to do it myself or hear the story from a friend. “Don’t smoke…smoking is bad” Oh really? Then why did you smoke for 20 something years…there’s gotta be something cool about it? I’m gonna try it. “Don’t drink and drive, its not safe” Oh no? How many times did you have a beer at dinner then drive us home? I am positive that you can ask anyone, even yourself, if having someone older tell you not to do something, actually made you want to do it more. Is your answer yes? Mine too. But, seeing your smoker friend collapse at school because his lungs gave out…that makes you think. Getting a call from a police officer telling you that your best friend was sitting in a hospital after totaling his car because he was drinking and driving…that changes you forever.
There are things in this life that I will never be able to teach my children. Sitting in that church basement that morning, I finally got it. My kids need to be kids, and I need to let them. They need to be surrounded by kids in order to really learn and understand how to just.be.a.kid. I need to be a parent, not their peer.
So they are starting daycare next week. We found a fantastic place just down the street. A beautiful facility with 24 staff, flexible hours to work with any schedule and the most amazing Montessori classroom I have ever seen in a public space. During our tour, we stopped into the play-based learning class, and the kids sort of wandered and looked out the window…not really interested in the barbies or soccer balls. But gee wiz, when we opened the door to the Montessori room, they both bee lined to the puzzles and flashcards without a second thought. My heart melted in that moment. This is where they need to be, and from the smile on my husbands face, this is where we are staying.
I was wrong and probably will be a lot. But as Oprah would say, “when you know better, you do better”. Thank you Brooke and Linc for letting me be wrong sometimes and loving me anyway. Seriously though….please don’t ever smoke. It’s horrible! I should have listened to Nanny 😦