I’m writing this post from a peacefully quiet house.
I’m drinking hot tea, that I didn’t have to re-heat in the microwave.
I had a full conversation with my husband while he ate his breakfast, without being interrupted to blow someone’s nose or play choo choos.
Two mornings a week, I take my two-year-old to school. Well, not really “school,” but it might as well be.
Dorothy knows all of her colors.
She can count.
She knows shapes.
She recognizes letters, and can almost sing the whole ABC song.
She folds her little hands and prays before eating sometimes…
…and I didn’t teach her any of these things.
I used to count to five with her, just to see if she would catch on. Then one day she kept going with six through 10, without me, like it was no big deal.
A year ago, the thought of sending Dorothy to any type of school, Parent’s Day Out or daycare was enough to send me into a panic attack. I was going to keep her at home until I was forced to send her to kindergarten. Not that I really wanted to do that, nor have I ever had any desire to home school, but I was convinced that I was the only person that could properly care for my daughter. Who at “school” was going to change her diapers? Who would know that “ooo ooo’s” mean Curious George fruit snacks? Who would make sure she wasn’t being picked on (or, more likely, picking on other kids)?
In fact, the only reason she is enrolled in Parent’s Day Out, was because she was having a particularly horrible day of toddler terror last summer.
Tantrums. Meltdowns. Full-on toddler attitude. And I was done. D-O-N-E. Done. I actually opened my laptop with her kicking and screaming at my feet, and immediately filled out the enrollment form without a second thought.
Five months later, I can say that was the best decision of my life.
School has been worth every single penny. In fact, it’s worth double what I pay. Not only is she learning things in preparation for kindergarten, but she comes home with art projects and crafts every single day. She practically leaps out of her car seat when her favorite teacher comes to get her (she cannot talk about Miss. Shannon enough, and that alone is such a blessing). They play outside, and she has friends. Dorothy has a social schedule now, and the structure has done wonders for her behavior.
She’s such a little person now.
But, what school has done for our family is greater than just Dorothy’s growth. I now have six full hours a week to do whatever I need to do. Sometimes I go grocery shopping alone on Monday mornings. Other times I come straight back home from drop off and go back to bed. I take long showers and actually put make-up on to feel like a human again. I catch up on blog posts, write choreography for my color guards, and organize closets… all while knowing Dorothy is having the time of her life.
I do WHATEVER I WANT, and it makes me sane again.
I didn’t get to this place in motherhood easily. It has been a two year process for me to feel comfortable and confident in my abilities. I sometimes get a little teary when I drop Dorothy off at school, and see her run inside with a giant smile on her face, because I’m just so damn proud of her.
When I get the, “Dorothy had a wonderful day!” report at pick-up, I feel validated. Like, I’m doing okay as a mother, and the people who spend time with my daughter are enjoying the beautiful little human we’ve created.
And, usually, I want to respond with, “Mommy had a wonderful day, too! I straightened my hair, and went to Big Lots, AND got the oil changed in my car – and it was fantastic!”
Thanks, school. You rock.