|All smiles on her first day of Pre-K|
Like many working moms, I both loved and loathed daycare. As a single mom at the time, I appreciated my adult support group outside of the home and enjoyed going to work everyday. As my daughter's solo parent, I disliked leaving her for long periods of time somewhere other than home. She really didn't seem to mind going and was telling me the difference between lower- and upper-case letters by her third birthday. She was growing and flourishing despite my absence and maybe that was what really bothered me.
I think since I never felt that I had the "choice" between working or not working, I resented that my only option was care from someone other than a family member. I was lucky enough to have my mom come over one day per week to sit with her - saving me a few minutes in the morning and some money too. Still. I talked glowingly about the staff at the daycare and all the things she was learning but deep down, it bugged me.
When I got married 16 months ago, that all changed. I did not go looking for a full-time office job so I did not go looking for a daycare for my daughter. When my stepson started Pre-K, I toyed with the idea of finding a part-time preschool for my then-three-year-old daughter. She seemed bored on the days that her stepsiblings were not here and I did not want her to fall behind her peers in things like letter-learning and fingerpainting.
I started searching in earnest but ran into barriers at every turn. One place had a waiting list. Another did not accept part-time students. Still another was just too expensive for me to justify on one steady income. I stopped looking, feeling more than a little bit defeated and vowing that I would just have to school her myself in order to help her "keep up."
She started Pre-K two weeks ago and has adjusted well. It does not appear that she is behind the other kids, despite the fact that she stayed home with me for over a year and the amount of schooling we did was... well, let's just say there was not much of it. But while we may not have spent a whole lot of time flipping through children's books or practicing word recognition with flashcards, we did a lot of even better things.
We slept in on Mondays.
We ate leftover dinner for breakfast at least three times per week.
We watched "Annie" and to my delight, she loved it.
We talked. A lot. She asked questions. A lot of questions.
We walked to the library, walked to the beach and walked to the mailbox together.
We stayed in our pajamas until well past noon on more occasions than I should admit publicly.
We watched some wicked storms roll in and pulled out flashlights when our lights flickered.
When I needed to get work done, she played in her room -- talking to herself and arranging her toys to act out different scenarios like going to the library or going to the beach.
When a few days had passed since she had seen her brother and sister, she asked me relentlessly when they would return.
She got bored -- and then she got creative.
On the days when I felt exhausted from my pregnancy, she laid with me and we watched an array of childrens' programming.
No getting ready for tomorrow morning, or watching the weekend clock because I needed to wrap up the fun before bedtime Sunday night. I got back some of the time that I had perceived I had "lost" with her -- and it was glorious.
It will never again be "just us." She has school now, even if it is an abbreviated version, and she also has a brand new baby sister that lives with us full time. I don't think that either of us lament this fact or want to go back to the way we were before. We both embrace our family and all the times the six of us get to be together.
So even if it did not go exactly like I originally planned, I am grateful for the little sliver of time that I got back and am looking forward to what comes next for all of us.
You can contact Katie by emailing her at email@example.com.
Bringing Home Baby -- The Indifferent SiblingsThree Things My Husband Does Better
Are There Benefits for Kids with All-Day Kindergarten?