I started taking Colin to our local Ontario Early Years Centre (OEYC) this week. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a free program provided by the Ontario government. They are places for children ages 0-6 and their parents can gather to socialize and play. They run singing time, snack time, and even provide lunch a few days a week. They also hold parental information workshops and organize other events for families. There are specialized things like hearing programs, speech development, doctors, and more. It is such a fantastic resource to have.
Because Colin is an only child and is not attending daycare, we want him to have the opportunity to socialize with other children. OEYC is perfect for this. So off we went on Monday to see how it would go.
Hmmm. Put Colin in a room with children and adults ready to be a willing audience for him. He loved it. He has never had any type of "separation anxiety" whatsoever. In fact, I have to worry more about him walking off with a stranger! No sooner had we stepped foot in the door than off he went to discover new toys, explore new rooms, and meet new friends. The younger infants tolerated his stubborn interest in whatever toy they were playing with; the older children seemed drawn to his happy demeanor; the parents were taken in by his infectious smile and laugh. He is just a happy kid.
I met an interesting woman there. She has a beautiful little girl named Billie, the same age as Colin. One's first impression of this woman might include adjectives like "biker-chic", or "80's party-girl". She seems a little rough around the edges and maybe a little life-worn, and she is older than most other mothers. She doesn't seem approachable at first, but has a kind smile if you say hello. I knew her from a distance from a Baby Club I attended during Colin's first year. So I wandered over to say hello. We struck up a conversation around our kids (as you can imagine, most conversations at these places are about our children!) and eventually came to the subject of daycare. I haven't met many mothers who are staying home to raise children like I am. Many of the adults at these places are babysitters or grandparents. But when I asked this woman if she was heading back to work, she resolutely said "I brought this child into the world. I figure I should be the one to raise her."
I wish all mothers could see the value of these words. I know there are parents who are in situations that prevent them from staying home, but these days so many women head back to work either to make more money, or for the escape. I can't understand how another person feels, and I make no judgment of their decisions. I am not in their shoes. But I know how important it is for children to have positive role models in their lives on a daily basis. I know how important the first years of their lives are in forming who they will become. I know the invaluable learning that takes place.
I am grateful I can stay home with Colin. I am grateful for the music talent I have that allows me to work at home. I am grateful for my husband's good job that gives us the financial freedom so I don't have to have a full-time job. I am grateful for his understanding and humility, that he doesn't need things, the bigger car, the house. I am grateful for our little family, and I hope I can spend each day giving everything I have of myself to my family.