I never really planned on being a stay-at-home mum, even toward the end of my pregnancy when I wasn’t employed and was hoping to go back to work within a few months after my daughter’s birth. But after the realities of childcare costs set in and we realised that my caring for her at home was more financially feasible for us, I fell into the role — and surprisingly fell in love with it, too. I love our daily routine, the flow of activities and projects that feed into meals and naps. I don’t even mind the seemingly endless housework as much as I anticipated I would back when I was working and we could pay a housekeeper to come more often.
Since things have been going well, I was crushed when my daughter turned 2 and my husband suggested we sign her up for preschool. I get where his motivation stemmed from; he wants her around more people. She started regressing in her trust of other adults, even her two grandmothers whom she’s always adored. And sometimes, even with her dad.
My loving little girl suddenly wanted only Mummy and would cry hysterically if I handed her off to anyone else for even a few minutes. There’s a little daycare at the gym where I take yoga class, and for months I’ve dropped her off there several times a week for up to two hours with no incident. Right around her second birthday, I couldn’t leave her there without a huge drama. Several times, my beeper has gone off to tell me that she’s inconsolable and I need to come retrieve her. This is obviously a problem.
The kids are another issue. My typically social little girl has recently grown frustrated in groups of kids where she’s expected to share and play nicely. I know this is totally normal and I’m not exactly concerned about it, but to my husband it’s a clear sign that she’s ready for the socialization of school. I can’t say I disagree, but a part of me aches at the thought.
And on top of the need for her to develop trust and routines with other adults aside from me, the benefits of early learning programs are not lost on my hubby — or on me. I do a lot of letters and numbers practice with her, we do explorative play, and I set up fun sensory activities at least once a week. But there are so many things little kids learn in a classroom environment that aren’t the same here at home.
So, I see where my husband is coming from. The structure, education, and socialization our daughter will receive at a preschool 2’s program is probably nothing but positive. I even toured the school she’ll likely attend and was so impressed by the indoor and outdoor play spaces, curriculum, and warm vibe. If she goes there for three hours, two or three days a week, it will free me up to write more and to get more housework done so we can relax and enjoy our time together at the end of the day. She’ll learn more, make friends, and have fun. And yet…
A small, ridiculous, selfish (?) part of me feels this little tinge. This thing close to doubt — in myself. That with her being only 2-years-old, as a stay-at-a-home mum, why am I not capable of giving her what she needs? Are my little activities and the play dates I arrange not enough? Is she not learning everything she should from her own mother? Does this mean I’m failing?
On top of the doubt is the one thing everyone tries to warn you about when you become a mum, but you don’t really understand it until you’re living it. Time. It just whips on by. While the days can stretch on long before you like an open road you’re ready to travel or be filled with so many stressful roadblocks you’re wishing it away, the years. They are so very short. I already miss my baby and at 2-years-old many claim she still is one. Projecting her into the next milestone, letting go, admitting that time is marching on, and taking her a little farther away from me, it hurts.
I know I need to let go and even though my husband and I have had the conversation many times and I’m certain he’s winning this one, I can’t seem to shake the tiny ache at my core of not being ready. Like with all things in parenting, though, we’ll deal with it as it comes. The first day of the next session at preschool is two weeks away, so I have until then to quiet my doubts and just give it a try. Accepting the necessary changes as they come up sure isn’t easy, but then again, neither is being a mum. And onward we go.