Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Would Make a Very Poor Housewife

You know, I'm sure there are some people that are fabulous at being home, taking care of their children full-time, keeping their house clean, walking the dog in evenly spaced intervals that add up to a certain mileage that equates "good exercise."

I'm not that person.

The good thing about being home for the past two days is that I love spending time with Belle. I mean, nobody makes me laugh like that kid. That being said, she usually has an extremely active week. She plays outside relentlessly at her daycare, and then her three hours at pre-school provide her with interaction with kids her own age and a great deal of age-appropriate thought opportunities. After teaching her the concept of strategy through Connect Four, I almost got the chessboard out of the closet ... my area of expertise as a teacher is clearly not the pre-school aged child :-). I'm sure if I'd spent my life as a stay-at-home mother, though, I'd probably be better at the crafts and stuff.

The thing is, I love my career. Educating children, analyzing literature with them, watching them improve as readers and writers and thinkers ... that is what makes me whole. I don't mean that as any sort of shot against my family--my daughters mean more to me than anything--but I think I'm a much better mother because I work, if that makes any sense, because my work is so intrinsically fulfilling. It also makes me appreciate the time I have with Addie and Belle a great deal more.

Belle's daycare is run by one of the kindest human beings on earth. She loves her daycare children like they are her own, and I'm the first person to say that she is a huge part of why both my girls are so well-mannered and kind. She takes them out to lunch and bowling and mini-golfing and to the movies and to museums and story hour at the library and all the things a stay-at-home mother does. She also only takes care of a few kids at a time, so a slot at her daycare is sort of like winning the lottery. She has a waiting list a mile long because she's so amazing. We pay whatever she asks because our kids are safe, happy, learning, safe, and anything else you'd want. If anything, the only problem is that she's too considerate--she has a young baby and a pregnant mother both very sensitive to Belle's brand of contagion--so that's why I'm home ruminating on why I'd be an awful stay-at-home mother instead of at work.

We also send Belle to a private pre-school for three hours a day four days a week. She learns an amazing amount of things at "school" (she knows a song that names every penguin, which I think is just the coolest thing), and she is on the cusp of reading, something that I'm incredibly excited about. Anyway, we pay a lot for her to go to there as well because giving our children the best possible educational experience is like the MasterCard ad--priceless. That's why we wanted desperately for Addie to go to private high school, but she made the choice to stay at the public school with her friends (and I'm the first to admit, by the way, that Addie was right on this one ... she definitely made the right decision for her).

Anyway, a lot of people I know are moving toward home-schooling, which I have to bite my tongue about. I mean, there are pros and cons to everything, but I am a certified teacher and I wonder how in the world I would structure the "school" part with the "home" part. I'm sure there are people that do a bang-up job, though. I just also know there are some people that don't. Perhaps with me the problem would be that s-word--no, structure, you sicko : )

So I guess I'm mulling over two thoughts at this point in time. First, is it better for children to be home with a parent? (And I have to say that, despite my stir-craziness at the moment, if I were ever a stay-at-home parent, I'd take it very seriously, figure out some routine, probably be able to pull of a halfway-decent job) I mean, does it make a child less "loved" if they are sent to daycare instead of home with Mommy or Daddy every day?

Secondly, and I suppose this is really why I started this post in the first place, is there something wrong with a person that values her career over staying home to raise children? I will never get rich teaching high school English, but a part of my heart would always be empty if I wasn't doing it. I think in some ways it makes me a better mother, too, since I always look at Addie and Belle with a gentler eye in large part because of my students.

I don't know, I'm just feeling guilt, I guess, that I'm home with my little treasure and I'm almost wishing I was at work. I think it must be the whole sick thing, though, since being home last week with Belle and Addie for February vacation was idyllic. It's kind of interesting (and disturbing, in a way) to think about.