Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Internal Struggle, Made External For Your Viewing Pleasure

Tomorrow is a big day, twofold.

1) Mia starts preschool.
2) Lauren starts Kid's Day Out.

Mia and I are both very excited for her to be starting real, live preschool. She's outgoing and confident - bordering on bossy at times - so I think she'll have a wonderful year. And it's not all that large of a step from her being in the Kid's Day Out program from last year. Preschool will include one extra morning a week, and quite a bit more teaching, but I doubt she'll notice a difference. She's ready.

Lauren, though, will be starting an entirely new experience. And if I'm being completely honest here - I'm not happy about it.

Kid's Day Out is a two morning a week program where children from 1 year to preschool age can come and...um...play. Learn to be away from their parents on a very limited basis, and play with other kids their age at appropriate activities while not being in much of a day-care environment. I've always looked at it as a bi-weekly play-date, with teachers instead of parents. It was great for Mia, because we never really had any other kids for her to play with. I gained time for OB appointments and time for resting my pregnant body, so it seemed a beneficial place for her to be. She started when she was almost 2 years old, and at that age it wasn't easy for her to transition into being away from me for the 3 hours twice a week. She cried. I cried. But it got better, and she soon loved it.

If it was hard with Mia - independent, non-snuggling toddler that she was - I am not looking forward to how Lauren will handle it - clinging, sensitive, mama's-girl that she is. Also, Lauren is only 16 months old - quite a bit younger than Mia was. But even knowing how hard it will be on her, that's not my main reason for second guessing our decision to enroll Lauren.

Mainly, I feel guilty. I'm a stay at home mom. I don't have any logical reason for handing over my two children to the care of others. Preschool, sure. That's fairly normal - not required, but normal. I can justify it. Kid's Day Out? Not so much. So I have this ugly wad of guilt festering away in my soul. It feels like selfishness to send Lauren to the program, instead of keep her home with me, at least for a little longer.

I can really come up with no good reason for sending her. I think I've been convinced by family and friends that this is the next logical step for Lauren, and that I'd love sending her because I'd gain so much free time every week while she'd gain so much from the society of other kids. And knowing that I've been 'talked-into' doing something I'd rather not do makes me feel queasy.

So, I don't expect tomorrow to be a good day for Lauren or I, emotionally. I may just throw in the towel and risk the ridicule of others for pulling her out of such a fun program. We could wait a semester and see if we think she's ready, then.

There - now I've convinced myself. Tomorrow will be a test run, and we'll see where to go from there. If it goes better than I've imagined, we'll keep her in. If it goes worse...

Wish us luck?

13 comments:

  1. Will keep both of you in my care and prayers tomorrow. All will be well. Lauren will be well. You will be well. And those few quiet hours for you will allow you to be even more present and wonderful (if possible) when the girls are around. Just breathe...in...
    out...in...out. And, if that doesn't work, maybe a donut will help!

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  2. You say donut and my mind goes blank...was I worried about something?? Thank you, my friend. You're the best.

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  3. yes...donut ha ha. of course no one will blame you if you decide it's not working out, why torture yourself. on the other hand, you time is a good thing, time to do whatever YOU want to do. hard to feed the babies if you yourself are starving...or something like that. Good luck to all of you tomorrow!!
    p.s. tell me more about this kids day out thing.....I might need some of that -er I mean Savannah might need some of that he he

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  4. You're her mama and you will always know what is best for your baby girl. Don't let other people tell you what should or should not be the next step in your baby's life. After tomorrow, if you think it's best to wait a semester, then I say that's what you should do. Hang in there Mama!

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  5. Did someone say donuts? ...Oh,
    sorry, lost me too.

    Whether you choose to put Lauren in the program or not, I hope you can find solace and comfort in knowing that clearly, you love your little girl and are trying -with your husband- to make the best choices for her and the family as a whole. As for the haters- they can go eat donuts.

    I'll be praying for you too.

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  6. Hopefully Lauren will love Kid's Day Out and will easily settle into her new "big kid" role. If she doesn't like it though, I don't think you should worry too much about taking her out for awhile. At 16 months, she's practically a baby and she might enjoy that one-on-one time with Mama more than she would enjoy going out to play with other kids. I know how hard it can be to ignore well-intentioned advice from people who really do care, but when it comes right down to it you're Lauren's mom, you spend more time with her than anyone else and you know her needs better than anyone else. If a decision is making you uncomfortable then it might not be the right decision. Trust your instincts and let everyone else adapt to *you*.

    That said, if Lauren loves her time away and you love the extra peace and quiet it brings, just enjoy yourself. You're not any less of a mom just because your kids are off at school/playgroup for a few hours!

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  7. Remember you have the benefit of experience, keep in mind how Mia transitioned: not instantly but in time, if Lauren follows a similar path-great, if not perhaps you are right and she is not ready yet. Either way trust yourself to know the right thing to do.

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  8. OK, blogger ate my comment, which isn't nice to do. I will try again.

    I will be praying for you this morning!! All will go fine for you and Lauren I am sure. And if this isn't the right time for Kid's Day Out then you will adjust.

    I am dropping my youngest off at college tomorrow and will definitely need a donut (or a dozen) later. It is much harder than I anticipated.

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  9. Honestly, I think there is this incredible amount of pressure to get our kids used to being without us, and it's based on this widespread belief that this is a good thing for them. I'm a big Gordon Neufeld fan, so if you're looking for a studied philosophy that backs up your gut feelings here, you could look into him. We've done various variations on programs here, I'm not against them when they are fun, but I always get a little edgy when I feel like a mom thinks she HAS to walk away from a crying child because conventional wisdom says that's what's good for the kids. It's not.


    There are ways to get a little breathing room, it is not easy to raise young kids. Is there an older kid in your circle that could serve as a mom's helper? It was always nice for me to hire some 11 or 12 year old to come over and play with the kids for a few hours, there was no separation from you but you got some space for doing those things that you just can't do well with a kid. Conversely, if you want her in the program but don't want separation tears, you can sit in during the classes until when/if everyone forgets about worrying if you're there.
    Good luck figuring it all out.

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  10. Sarah, please don't let other people decide what is right for your child, no matter how well intentioned their advice. This is definitely a time for prayer and talking things over with your husband. And go ahead and have the donut, too. God bless you, and your beautiful family.

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  11. You all are wonderful. Thank you for your advice and encouragement - I'm benefiting from it greatly :)

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  12. My vote? I think you'll know. You just do. You know with a deep-down what to do, and probably a conversation with your husband will confirm it. No worries, mama. Things will work out just fine. :)

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  13. I think that actually sounds like a great program! Being a fellow stay at home mommy, I can understand the guilt, but one of the challenges of staying at home is finding opportunities to "socialize" your kids -- so I think it's a good idea :) And, having read your other blog post already, I'm glad to hear it went well :)

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?