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We Changed Our Minds

Mama's girl.

Last night I was in my office uploading some photos I’d taken of Violet earlier in the day when Serge shouted down the stairs that he’d emailed me.

Slightly weird, I thought. But not too strange. We do that kind of stuff all the time, mostly for kicks. We’ll email each other or Facebook each other when we’re sitting together on the couch watching TV and surfing the internet. Generally we’re just trying to be funny. We’ve engaged in Facebooking each other back and forth, mostly saying funny stuff to make each other laugh.

I checked my email. Surprisingly, it was a longish message.

i don’t want violet to go to daycare yet. she is only 2 1/2 and she is a sweet loving little girl with no social problems at all. but she is so wee still. i can’t let her to the care of strangers just yet….we’re both at home now…which is unheard of, and that might not last forever…but while it does, and while she is so very young…i wanna keep her around.

we will never really regret the decision to do so. that is the end of the debate. i don’t care what other people do or say.

*same with the wallpaper idea.

serge

I responded with one word.

Okay.

Here’s the thing. Even though I registered her and was somewhat excited about taking her to daycare/preschool, I feel exactly the same way that Serge does.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the lines, preschool became THE thing to do. It was unheard of when I was growing up. At least, I hadn’t heard about it. Preschool was a foreign concept, something that rich people did with their kids. I don’t know anyone that went to preschool. But then, when a couple of my girlfriends started popping out kids in their early twenties, everyone was talking preschool. Hell, one friend even opened a preschool…

I didn’t go to preschool and I was fine when I started kindergarten. Millions of kids throughout the history of the world never went to preschool. They stuck close to home and played in their yards with anyone who happened to live nearby. And if no one lived nearby they played with their brothers and sisters.

Now listen, this is by no means an indictment on preschool or daycare. I understand that it’s the choice of millions of other parents and that’s fantastic. In some cases it’s not a choice, it’s necessity and I understand that as well. But, as Serge mentioned, we have this window right now, this unique scenario in which we’re both home. That’s generally unheard of within families. BOTH parents working from home. I personally think that, with the advent of the Internet, it’s the way of the future but right now it’s fairly uncommon. Why ship our beautiful daughter away from us? Because a couple well-meaning friends and family members talk about how she needs to socialize? She’s two. She’s fine. And she socializes plenty with us at home.

I guess what Serge was able to say in his email that I couldn’t was that even though other people are all about daycare and preschool, that doesn’t mean it’s the way to go for us. I was on parenting autopilot, thinking that yes, this is what one does if one is a responsible parent, but I don’t really want to put her in daycare just yet either. Maybe in a year, just not yet. You might interpret this to mean I am a big wussy parent who can’t let go but I don’t see it that way.

I was reading the excellent comments from readers after yesterday’s post about daycare on my personal website, The Girl Who, and one from Cynthia really vocalized exactly how I feel:

I just want to throw out there that you don’t *have* to put her in daycare. If you would like to have a little time to yourself, be able to write and it works for your family, then go for it and enjoy. But, if you’re doing it because you think you’re *supposed* to, you don’t have to. When my son was about 3, I was on the hunt for a preschool because I thought you were supposed to, not because it was what was right for our family. I had a friend clarify this, and decided preschool was not right for us. Neither of my kids ever went to a daycare/preschool, they’re both now in elementary school and have done very well academically and socially. Many families do preschool/daycare and it works for them, I applaud that. I also know that I’ve spoken with several moms with children younger than mine who were under the same assumption, and were glad to have clarification that the kids can opt out and turn out just fine.

What an awesome, thoughtful comment. I am so grateful she took the time (that all of you took the time) to offer advice. I had read this comment a few hours before I read Serge’s email and the thought that I really and truly did not want to start Violet in daycare was already resonating in my brain, but it took Serge stepping up and voicing his thoughts to make me actually stop and take stock. Otherwise I may have continued on parenting autopilot instead of really and truly critically thinking this decision.

Truth is, I registered Violet in daycare because I thought I was supposed to. Because I thought that’s what good moms who want to raise successful children did. But it’s not right for our family right now and as embarrassing as it is to tell the preschool we changed our minds and to ask for our registration money back, I’m going to do that. My time with this beautiful child is limited. In a few years she’ll be five and kindergarten is something you’re supposed to do. After that, she’s in the system and mama will be left to her own devices. So why ship her away now when I don’t have to and this time with her is so precious?

So thank you everyone, my husband included, for reminding me that parenting isn’t about going along with the flow, or what you perceive the flow to be, it’s about critically thinking each milestone, weighing the pros and cons and deciding if it’s a good fit for your child, for your family.

Because you guys are so awesome with comments and advice I wanted to throw this topic back to you to see if you have anything to add. Thoughts on daycare/preschool. As a parent did you choose daycare/preschool or was it a necessity? And if you did choose it, did you do it because you thought it was right for your family or because you felt like you were supposed to?

*more on this later.

Wondering if your kid is ready for preschool? Here are 5 signs of readiness.

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