I like creating community and having a place where parents can come together. It is important for parents to feel like they are not alone, where they can not only come and discuss their experiences, but celebrate their differences. The parenting world can be a harsh place, with different theories, practices and beliefs abounding. In our quest to be good parents, we are often filled with passion toward certain aspects of parenting. And there are times when it is easy to forget ourselves, allowing that passion to become biting and dividing.
I've shared before that I believe we can learn from one another's differences. I've been quite humbled since becoming a parent. It is easy to think you know everything until a child comes into your life. It is then that you realize you know nothing. It is then that you realize you have a lot to learn.
As I've stumbled along as a parent, I've found that ways that I thought I was set in regarding raising my children have been challenged. The more parents I meet, the more philosophies, practices and beliefs I encounter. Some of they are foreign to me, some are uncomfortable, some I completely disagree with. But as I get to know others, observe how they put their parenting into practice, I am once again humbled to a place of understanding and my mind is opened.
We don't have to agree on everything. But I think we can learn to appreciate and celebrate the differences in others. I've realized that on this blog, all of the perspective comes from my experience (naturally. It's my blog, so therefore I do a lot of the talking). And while my experience works for me, there are lots of other facets and avenues of parenting that I cannot speak on, as it is currently not part of my experience. So it has been my desire for some time to highlight other parenting styles, philosophies and practices that are not necessarily my own. Like I said, we can learn a lot from each other!
Today's Parenting Perspective comes from Melinda. Melinda and I went to high school together. Actually, we went to middle school together, and for years played on the same softball team (and I was really bad at it. They always stuck me in right field. Do you know how many plays happen in right field? Nada). Our mothers are friends, so while we haven't kept constantly in touch, I've been updated on her life from various sources. We're friends on Facebook, and I recently saw that she started a blog, My 2 Cents. Yay for blogs! I read the post she has shared on her wall, and I was really moved to read about her experience as a working mom who is home for the summers with her daughter (she is a teacher). I think her honesty is refreshing, and her story sheds light on something I have no experience with.
Here is Melinda's post. I encourage you to check out all the other posts on her blog. It's a great read!
by Melinda Curran, of My 2 Cents
Working Mom or Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM)? Being a teacher, 75% of my time is spent as a working mom and the other 25% I get to stay home and enjoy time with my daughter. I have the privilege of experiencing the advantages and disadvantages of both.
My first full week of my first summer with Alayna is coming to an end as I write this, and it has been an eye-opening experience to say the least.
I truly enjoy my job, and the reward that I get from the children makes all of the time and effort I put into it worth it. However, it was extremely hard to send Alayna to day care at the very young age of 3 months. Work was calling though, and so was our bank account.
Upon my return to work, people naturally started to ask who was taking care of Alayna. When I told them that she was going to day care each day, sometimes I felt as though I got a condescending glare. I almost started to feel guilty for sending her. It could have been my own insecurity about taking her to day care, but I think everyone expected me to send her to a family member, or neighbor, or to stay home with her. It just wasn’t the right decision for us. Financially, we wouldn’t be able to keep living the way we enjoy living without my income, and we have no family who live close enough to watch her.
Day care has turned out to be a WONDERFUL place for both Alayna, and my husband and I. The women that took care of her this year were absolutely amazing. Of course, that made me feel completely comfortable leaving her there each day. The first week, I called everyday at lunch to check on her, but after I got to know the staff I never had a worry. I knew that she was in good hands, and though I thought about her often throughout each day, I was never concerned about her. She was learning, playing and most importantly getting lots of love. She learned so much, and got to play with plenty of children; some her age, some younger, and some older. She earned the nicknames of “Smiley” and “Roly Poly,” which I enjoyed hearing stories about when I picked her up.
On the down side, my husband and I did miss some of her firsts. She had been trying to crawl for weeks, and one day on her daily report, we got a note that said “Put me on the floor and watch.” I asked Alayna’s teacher if she had crawled, and they wouldn’t divulge the secret, which was sweet. I rushed home with her, and pulled her out of her car seat, set her down, and she was indeed, crawling! It was somewhat disheartening to think that someone else had witnessed her first time accomplishing such an important milestone, but they handled it so nicely that I got over that feeling very quickly. Even though I knew what had happened, the fact that they didn’t come right out and tell me made it seem like my husband and I were seeing her crawl for the first time.
Over the last few weeks as Summer approached, the excitement of being with Alayna all day long started building up. I couldn’t wait for EOG’s to be over, report cards to be done, and my classroom to be cleaned up and checked out. I was looking forward to sleeping in, going to the park, and pool, reading books, and watching her learn new and exciting things. (Little did I know that my little angel did not have sleeping in on her agenda!)
The first two days were eye-openers. I realized that I had no idea what Alayna’s daily schedule was. She had just gotten over being sick. She was being a fussy eater, and not being cooperative while going down for her naps. I couldn’t get her to drink her bottles, and I was starting to feel like a terrible mother. I didn’t know my own child’s schedule. What kind of mother am I? Not to mention, how can a 7 1/2 month old be ten times more exhausting that 18 third graders? It just didn’t make sense. Those first few nights, I went to bed tired, stressed and frustrated. I decided that I needed to stop focusing on what I wanted Alayna’s schedule to be, and let her show me.
The next day I just went with it. When she cried, I fed her. When she got cranky and whiny, I put her down for a nap. We played, read and laughed. Since then, things have been much better. She has even learned a few new things, and we are having a blast. We went in the big pool for the first time yesterday with friends, and she loved it.
Even after just a week, I have a whole new appreciation for SAHM’s. I feel extremely lucky that I get to spend time with Alayna in the summer. I am thankful for that time together. But, I am also thankful for my career. I feel that being a mother has made me a better teacher, and being a teacher has made me a better mother. I am glad to be lucky enough to experience the best of both worlds.
If you have a Parenting Perspective you'd like to share, email me (moderndaydonnareed [at] gmail [dot] com). Pick a parenting aspect, and give us your experience with it. I'd love to share your story!