Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day Care!!!

Well I stopped by a local cafe to get a latte. They had just remodelled, and it was a nice little reno, added quite a bit of room. But as I was waiting for my take away latte it was just a little too crowded for me. I actually get really weirded out in crowds sometimes. Not sure why it bothers me at cafe's, and shopping centers, but not at church or sporting events. But anyways, I went outside to wait.

As I was leaning against a pole two early thirties gals came out of the cafe. They saw a friend of theirs, sipping on a coffee and enjoying the paper. "Wheres your kids?" they asked.

"At day care" she replied. Wow!!! Day care. They seemed so jealous, though they had no children with them. They were oohing and ahing.

"I want day care" one of the girls said. The other nodded, they both wanted day care it seems.

"Well enjoy it" said the other.

"Oh I am!" she answered, with this huge relieved smile. Life was good.

Now, I know I do not understand this womans life at all. She may have four children, and works from the home. She may be a single mother. Maybe she has panic attacks and suffers from depression. Lets not get too into judging this mother, nor the other two. But I think we can all admit that this is a bit of a current thing.

Now my wife and I decided to homeschool our children, not to shelter them, and we didn't shelter them. But rather to ensure they got a good education, and to take seriously our role as parents. This meant a lot of work for Raquel in particular. But it was a work she loved, because she got to spend time with her kids. And I worked from home frequently so I too got to spend a lot of time with my kids.

In this day and age we see so many kids sent to day care, and sometimes there is no way around it. The mom's income is necessary. Or sometimes it is about career pursuit, lifestyle pursuit, or just plain greed. But in this case it seemed like, I just need some time to myself to drink latte's and a cute cafe. And by putting the kid (s) in day care this was assured. And that just struck me as something not to be admired, nor to be jealous of, but rather to be sad about.

Now again maybe this particular woman sends the kids to daycare once a fortnight so she can spend the afternoon working with homeless drug addicts, and used a cuppa in the morning to prepare herself for that. But like I said, it just seems like something has changed a bit, and I don't think our kids are better off for it.

the rev


Rebecca said...

Rev...I'm biased, so I don't mean to diss people that have made other decisions, but...

My mum was a stay-at-home mum. A woman with a tertiary education in the days when only 7% (or something like that) of women in Australia had one. It wasn't an easy decision for my parents to make, but in some ways it was also a very easy decision...

I'm so glad they made that decision. Dad worked long hours as a high school teacher - usually leaving at 7am, often not home til 11pm, and he's been a fantastic parent. But I don't know that I, or my siblings, would have grown up to be the people we are if Mum had worked those hours too. I'm so glad that my parents made the time to hang out with us, talk to us, teach us...

During school holidays, Mum always used to get upset when she heard parents whinging about their kids being at home...she always loved us being around, and couldn't understand why people saw their kids as a burden. :)

Anonymous said...

I had a stay at home mum as well, though I see other people having different models, and I think that is okay too.

My sister's kids are co-parented (that is, both parents work, but both in jobs that means that one of them can be home with the kids most of the time). She found it interesting that a lot of people were complaining about waiting lists for child care centres which were quite expensive. She chose to us the government funded community day care program once a week. It was a lot cheaper, but meant that her kids were being cared for in someone elses home alongside a handful of other kids rather than in a school-like environment.

Her kids have daycare for socialisation mostly, to have close contact with other kids and different kinds of kids. I think that there are a bunch of different models as to how parenting works well.

There are many people who can't stay home with their kids because they can't afford it. I wouldn't like to suggest that they necessarily are not positive and good parents.

john jensen said...

I thought I made that clear in my original post. I just thought it is starting to seem that in some circles kids are an impediment to fully enjoying life, or getting ahead.

the rev

Anonymous said...

And yet there is still a fair bit of stigma for those that choose not to have kids.

The other aspect is that maybe part of this is simply the fact that we have created an acceptable level of discourse about this which is like a code, even if it doesn't reflect our true feelings. Like kids for whom the standard is that they hate school - maybe it is just an expectation that parents talk about how good it is to have a break from their kids.

john jensen said...

Yeah I have made comments like that as well.

I guess that makes me a hypocrite.

But in studying culture its seemed in the past finances and technology was used to support family, tribe, and ideology. Where it does seem to me that now, they are the dominant aspect and we must "fit in time" for church and family.

the rev

Rebecca said...

Dan, I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that those that don't stay home aren't great parents - I just know I'm so glad mine made the choices they did.

However I would question the whole "there are some people who can't stay home because they can't afford it" thing.

I know a lot of families who don't find it easy to get by, but they have made decisions to stay home, or work for community organisations. Similarly, I know people who work full time because they feel they can't afford to stay at home - but from where I sit (which is as a single woman with no kids!) it looks to me like they "can't" afford to stay at home because they've made certain choices about schooling, housing, lifestyle...I don't feel that it's fair to my friends who've made immense financial and lifestyle sacrifices in order to stay home, or to work for NGOs, to say that other's "can't afford" to do the same.

And Dan - I totally agree with you about the choosing not to have kids thing. I also think that we as a society have lost out big-time because we've regarded kids as possessions rather than little people - I have friends who've chosen not to have kids, or can't have kids, but love to be around kids, but they don't get much opportunity to do that because of the breakdown in community, shared responsibility etc...

Anonymous said...

Yeh I agree with you Rev.

In many ways its a huge tragedy that the role of a mother was so hugely discredited in the whole women's lib thing. It was a bit of a baby with the bath water thing I reckon. My mum was a stay at home when we were at school - and I so hugely appreciate that she was there for me everyday when I got home. I think especially since I had such a hard time at school.

The facts are though that it is very hard to survive these days on one income. With out being sexist at all I think that with women going out to work it just changed society to actually need 2 incomes to live now instead of one.

My wife and I live very modestly - actually in a one bedroom unit with our 7 yr old - and we could not afford to maintain our current lifestyle if we just had my income.

So it's not like her income is being blown at restaurants etc.

urbanmonk said...

I grew up in a single parent family in Adelaide in the seventies. My mother worked illegally for my grandfather because the single mothers pension back then was a pitance. I caught the bus to school with my mum, caught it home on my own, jumped the back fence, ( i had my own key) let myself in and made myself an afternoon snack, sat myself down in front of the box, and watched cartoons. Life was bliss! I am an alcoholic now, but thats another matter!

john jensen said...

let me say, just for the sake of being perfectly clear:

I greatly admire those amazing parents that work their fingers to the bone, to support and care for their children. And have no greater desire than to spend time with their kids, except maybe to feed and clothe them.

the rev