It was two unassuming, non-malicious comments:
The first, yesterday, at Food Lion, when I told the cashier that my son was turning three this weekend.
“Wow! Only three? No way! Is he the tallest in his class?”
Um…Class? What class?
And then there was an email from a lady I met this morning, discussing some Bible study stuff:
“Perhaps the 3 of us could get together during the time your children are in preschool for a short time of sharing over coffee/tea at Panera one day.”
Just two little comments, comments that made assumptions about my family and left me feeling like I was some odd exception. It came on the tails of about three weeks straight of seeing a steady stream of Facebook and Instagram photos and blog posts of friends sending off their babies to preschool.
It’s an exciting yet apprehensive time of year for these moms who choke back tears of pride mingled with sadness as their little ones tottle off with backpacks on their backs.
For the briefest of moments I was starting to wonder if I missed the “Yes, all three-year-olds should, in fact, go to preschool” memo.
Preschool is amazing. Especially when there are programs that allow young children, especially those with special needs, to learn in a school setting, often for free, at such a young age. I’m thankful that we live in a country where both public schools and churches can open up their doors to provide amazing preschool programs to families.
I’m proud of the moms who have made the sometimes hard decisions to send their young ones into a school setting. I know that there are many circumstances and reasons that these families make these decisions. We’re all in this together and moms are just trying to do the best that they can for the children God has entrusted to them.
So don’t think that by writing this post I’m somehow knocking down moms of 3-year-old preschoolers. Because I love them and some of them are my closest friends.
I just wanted to write this post for the other moms: the ones who think their kids are too young, whose states don’t offer free preschool, who can’t afford it, who aren’t ready to send their kids, or who just don’t want to.
It can be isolating to feel like you are the only mom who isn’t getting 3 free hours to herself in the mornings.
So let me just assure you – you aren’t.
I thought that for a split second. I was jealous. Frustrated. Frazzled. But then I had some good friends assure me that I’m not alone, just like I’m assuring you know.
It can be anxiety-inducing to wonder if your kid is missing out on some special opportunity that could help him develop.
Yes. Just being honest here. I worry about my kid. I worry about him becoming too self-absorbed, not learning how to share or play nice with other kids, watching too much TV, or struggling with potty training because he’s not in preschool.
So let me just assure you – you aren’t alone in your worries.
It can be hard to find new ways to entertain your energetic child day in and day out, new ways to play cars and teach letter sounds.
So let me assure you – you aren’t alone in wanting a break.
It can be frustrating to have to take your child grocery shopping with you because you don’t have the luxury of time without him.
So let me assure you – you aren’t the only mom letting your three-year-old play on the carts at Costco, watching him climbing on top of the car cart at Food Lion (and getting scolded by the store workers), and giving him animal crackers and suckers so he will sit down in the cart.
You and me? We have our reasons for keeping our children at home. Our family’s reasons have to do with a mid-September birthday, Ezra not being potty trained, and not having the finances to send our child to preschool – along with simply not feeling like he’s ready. Our reasons are valid and so are yours.
So will you join me in enjoying your three-year-old at home this year – in embracing every day that you have with him? Will you give yourself grace on those days that your child watches a little too much Netflix so you can get housework done? Will you go to the park with that child and watch those little legs run with energy while you breathe it all in? Will you read books and take trips to the library and try to teach letters and numbers and colors and shapes and new words in your own special way? Will you play cars and trucks (or princesses and baby dolls) and try to foster creativity within yourself instead of being begrudging and resentful with your time, wishing that someone else could do it for you? Will you make a commitment to teach and train your child – whatever that means for you, whatever it looks like in your home – with joy and thankfulness?
I’m not saying that it’s going to easy. Not for you, not for me.
A lot of days I look at the idea of preschool as some wonderful fantasy that could keep me a lot saner if only I had the means. And some days I’m even jealous of the people who have that opportunity.
But the reality is that we have made this choice. And it’s the best choice for our family, for our Ezra. It’s where God has us, and it’s okay.
And your choice to keep your three-year-old home? It’s the best choice for your family, and for your child. It’s where God has you. And it’s okay.