Hello faithful blog readers!
It is the eve of my first free Saturday since sometime in August, and I am taking the time to write a little blog post to anyone out there who's reading. I have so much in my head "write" now, so much that I sincerely hope that it tumbles out with some semblance of order and sense.
I'm working full time. It's a big change for me. I've been at home for the last (about) four and half years. I'm working in a preschool/day care center that is housed in a local elementary school. So we get a lot of siblings, and a lot of what we call "kindergarten wrap-arounds" (which are kids that are in our program half a day and in kindergarten the other half, and usually then after school for about 3 hrs or so until 5:30, when we close). It's really made me re-examine my own parenting, as well as my thoughts/opinions on parenting and families and such.
First let me stress that these are my opinions, not judgements. I personally feel that it's really unfair to judge anyone--and as soon as you (I) do, than you'll be held up to the same measuring stick for some judging of your own. Essentially, what I am seeing as I nurture and parent these 4 and 5 year olds for some 8+ hours a day is that the family is falling apart and it's hurting kids in ways we can't even fathom yet. Most of our kids are coming from single parent families--and a lot of those are just barely getting through traumatic separations. I know that these single moms are doing the best they can with what they've got. I'm glad to help them and support them where I can. But I see the other end of things for those 8+ hours a day. Kids so distracted and agitated that they can't focus on anything for even 10 minutes. Kids who are afraid that we are going to leave them on the playground and leave them behind and silently cry or quake with fear at the drop of a hat. Kids who think nothing of hitting, pushing, shoving, punching in the face, or elbowing to get their way or get the toy they want or to simply assert their control over another person (and let me say that sometimes the one pushing and elbowing is my own child as well....). Kids who are simply defiant. It's tough. I don't have answers. I just know that these kids are reacting more to their home life and home situations than their parents probably realize.
I learn new things every day about improving my parenting. I work with a wonderful gal who's done this job for 15 years (I sometimes think of her in my head as "the child whisperer") and I've learned a lot. If you are looking for help in your parenting, I can recommend some great books---"Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelson (I first read this during a college classroom management class) and "Raising Self-Reliant Children in Self-Indulgent World" by H. Stephen Glenn. These are fabulous books that won't make you feel guilty about your parenting. Plain, honest language that will give you more tools for your parenting toolbox.
This job has humbled me in many ways as well. I'm grateful that I'm not a single mom. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those that are. I see moms every day that are doing the very best with what they have. I also have learned that for me, and for my family, things are better when I am at home. I am planning to work full-time through the rest of the school year, but next year, when C. is in kindergarten, I am only working part-time. I'm going to be home when he's home. I try not to think about the fact that I'm not there when my kids are home from school. It breaks my heart a little.
Lots more thoughts are tumbling around, like "why didn't we avoid the financial choices that put us here in the need for me to work...." and "wow, I always said that I could never do daycare, but yet that's pretty much what I am doing. How Ironic..." to "I have so many books and stories running around in my head and heart---I think it's finally time to discipline myself to write them down like I always wanted to do" to "I am happier when I am in a creative job, or at least have the time weekly to have a creative outlet" to "I love to sing! My concert was fabulous! I need to sing more!" and a really big one that I'd love to talk about, but it's pretty raw: for no reason I can fathom, my very best friend is no longer talking to me. Not in person, not on the phone, and not via email. She never showed for appointments we had, and she just stopped answering the phone one day, and never returned my calls and (and we used to talk several times a day...and get together in person at least once a week) It hurts a lot and I don't know what to do about it.
and so on...
Let me just sum this up like this: I wish all of the moms out there, single or not, working outside the home or inside the home, I wish you all peace of mind. I wish you contentment. I wish you support for your choices. I wish you best friends. I wish you the things you wish for. (and I wish the Dads the same things...)