One of the most relaxing things about being a stay-at-home mom of one child is the ability to open the door whenever, go wherever and do whatever.
It’s so refreshing not to have any kind of program: there is no other sibling at home waiting to be fed or be put for a nap, so why not enjoy the weather while talking about life, Star Wars and Finding Dory with my 4-year-old.
Every now and then, over these past two years, I’ve heard the same question from people that know me too well: the grandma in the park, the lady in the bakery, the dad on the bench. And the conversation goes roughly like this “How old is he?” “Almost 4” “Why isn’t he at school?”
“He doesn’t go to school yet.”
“Oh! Why is that?”
“Because he doesn’t have to.”
If I’m lucky, the questions stop there. Spoiler alert: I’m rarely lucky.
Next, I usually have to listen to an unsolicited story about how this person sent their child to school at an early age because they were working or just to socialize, because, you know, it was their time to leave the nest and how they never had any problems and they always had a great time.
When I’m really unlucky, I get to hear that they learned to wipe themselves after pooping at 2, write at 3, count till 394.594 at 4 and so on. And of course, they come home better toddlers and always, always, disciplined ones. Because they were definitely lacking discipline before and, thank God for the sweet kindergarten teacher that made them realize sooner rather than later that the world is a cruel place. The speech usually ends up with “better than staying home all day watching TV.”
So, what about all these cases that I so often read online about children that started school without a proper adjusting system (aka left to cry endlessly after being separated from their mother), resulting in fear of abandonment, bad sleeping habits and insecurity? All the terrible food that is being served, with tons of sugar being stacked in a small body? All the rush to learn to write their name, for mommy and daddy to be proud, instead of playing out in the yard, getting close to nature?
It’s tiring to be a stay-at-home mom raising a child 24/7 with no help. You need a break, I get it. It’s overwhelming to start over with a newborn and a toddler. You want some alone time with the baby and some quiet time at home, I understand. I really do. But just say it. It’s far more honest to admit that you send your child to daycare because it helps you rest, take some breaths and gather your strength to become a better parent the rest of the day than declaring that you’re doing it for their own sake.
You see, kind stranger, my kid is happy learning numbers by playing Snakes and Ladders, letters by reading his favorite books, improving his skills by assembling Legos, learning how to hold a knife by being my sous chef. My kid isn’t left on the ipad to be educated and I don’t consider myself a boring parent. My kid lives life as he should at this age: by playing.
So, I’m sorry. You will keep seeing me and my son walking around the neighborhood during school hours for one more year, until he will follow your kids into the classroom. And when we meet in the playground you can tell me about the short period that you’ve spent together playing, wondering how time went by so fast and hoping you could take it all back, because childhood only lasts for so long. But, you see, you can’t.