So I’m pregnant.
Yes, you read that right. Thought I would share. Not exactly planned but still very welcome twist in our newlywed life.
I had always said that if I ever had the good fortune to be a parent (a dimming reality as the years were passing), I wanted the child to actually be raised by their parent (either myself or my partner) on a full time basis, at least until they were old enough for school. I really loved having my mom with me all the time growing up and am really glad I did not have to face the trauma of separating from her in my early years in daycares. You’re probably right that I would have adapted in the same way millions of children do every day, but still, I’m glad I did not have to.
I guess it is easy for me to say now without the reality of the little person being in out of uterus, driving me bonkers and ‘needing’ so much…..and me without the refreshment of meaningful adult company for hours on end. I really don’t know how I will cope as the entire experience is new to me. BUT STILL, I hold this ideal dear to my heart. No one will care for or love my child the way I (or my husband) would (except maybe my mom, the child’s grandmother). I defy anyone to say otherwise. I am the person who can provide this child with the most loving care (if not always the most experienced) 🙂
While I doubt that most peole would argue the last point with me, the common resistence I have experienced in my viewpoint has been that ‘that’s nice if you can AFFORD it.’ ….and here my hackles rise. While I fully acknowledge that there are many people who simply cannot afford to stay home to take care of infant children (e.g. single parents or those in very meagerly paying jobs), there are also many who are deceived (consciously or unconciously) that they have a lack of choice because of a lack of money. I argue many parents cannot afford to give their children those valuable first years at home with them, due to the (most often unconcious) choices they have made as opposed to the lack of money.
Now these choices might even be based on their kids: They have chosen to have a bigger home in which the kids can have a backyard and their own bedrooms, maybe be in a better neighborhood (with better schools), drive a safer car, etc. and pay the price with both parents having to work to pay the mortgage and that car payment. They may decide that going on family vacations once a year and/or paying for summer camps is more valuable then those early years at home with a child.
OR, these choices may be based on other things such as wanting to have the newest, flashiest TV set.
Regardless, I wish that most people in North America would wake up and realize that we are so wealthy and have so much more control over how we live our lives than many of us conciously realize. You can afford many more things than you realize, IF you understand your priorities and are committed to them. I wish more people would realize that staying at home with their child is a possibility instead of just staring at me shocked and then grumbling how one could possibly afford such a thing from a bygone era. They would just have to make some tough choices (about cable TV) or the size of their home and what to have dinner every night (beans, anyone?) – all based on what they truly value. Another key strategy is creativity regarding lifestyle when money is really tight. For example, I know one single mother who chose to be a nanny when her little girl was young and made a deal to care for the family’s children along with her own in exchange for a small salary, room (in an excellent neighborhood) and board. Some would argue that she sacrifcied some key ‘ladder-climing’ (and earning potential) years by making a move like that but I can tell you that she has no regrets as she enjoys a close relationship with her teenage daughter to this day and cherishes the memory of those precious and quickly-gone baby years.
Please don’t take this semi-rant to mean that if you truly believe that what is best for your child is two career-focussed, dynamic active people who love their careers and hence their life is the best example and parent for their child, that one should then quit such a lifestyle and stay home with your kid. I honestly don’t think if you are miserable at home caring for your child and would be happier with the balance of career thrown in that this would be best for your child.(and I also mentioned there are definitely a group of people out there who cannot cut down already bare bones budget any further) BUT too may people think they are of the latter category and/or never think about the choices they are making around these things. They wistfully say that they ‘wish’ they had money so they could do ‘X’. It is to those people that I am just making a call out for CONCIOUS living….are the lives of those around you or our CRAZY media which more subversively then we realize, dictating your choices? I beg you (and myself) not to let ‘them’ push us around like this.
It is a lie that everyone needs a car that every child needs their own bedroom to be well-adjusted – or even more deeply, that what you have determines your worth. Start really asking questions of yourself and your life about what you really value and whether such values are reflected in your life. You might be surprised by what you find.
….and now to pull in my non-parent readers (hey bob! :), the astute amongst you already realize that the same principal applies to any and all areas of our lives. If you have always dreamed of going to Australia and seeing the great barrier reef or volunteering once a week at an orphanage or writing a book….then why haven’t you? Really? I certainly hope it is not because of the lack of money. (we will have to deal with other excuses in another post)
Let your values dictate your life…not the other way around. I am far from this ideal myself…but I hope and pray for myself and you dear readers that we can change the direction of this boat….otherwise we will look back with regrets.