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Was I Making a Big Mistake?
Was I Making a Big Mistake?
01/09/2012

I would like to relay to you my story, which is in praise of stay-at-home moms everywhere.

I gave birth in 1980 to a daughter, who, in a very short period of time, gave her parents pause when we realized she was probably smarter than we were. I was a stay-at-home mom and at that time society was on the cusp of making those of us at home feel as though we should be "finding ourselves" outside the home. I read to my child ALL the time, took her EVERYWHERE in her stroller, and made her food with vegetables I had grown myself. I was so in awe of her beauty, I couldn’t believe she was mine. I was very young at the time having just turned 21.

Living in rural Pennsylvania, “Head Start” had become the new best program you could have your preschooler attend. Initially intended for underprivileged children to help insure they were properly prepared for Kindergarten, it soon became very popular in the general population as “DAY CARE.”  I was really worried when, after a while, my child seemed uninterested in playing with children her own age. By the time she turned 3, I thought a little more socialization other than our circle of families with kids her age might be a good thing. So I enrolled her in the “Head Start” program just 2 days a week. She did not want to go, but I thought “let's give it a chance”

Her behavior began to revert and she started to have toilet accidents after being completely potty trained. She complained they did not listen to her, so I came early one day to pick her up and stood in the hallway by the door where no one could see me and listened. Almost immediately, I heard her asking one of teachers for help, and they ignored her. She asked a second and third time with no acknowledgment. That was it - I went in, scooped her up and went home.

The next day I called and canceled her enrollment. The assistant on the phone gave me an earful about how terrible it would be for me to remove my daughter. I remained steadfast. The next day the DIRECTOR of the program called me and said I was making a big mistake and she would have problems in school later on. I explained there was no need for her to attend since I was at home with her. Still the inference was I was unable to teach or give my child all she needed for a successful school experience for the next 12 years. Her words remained in the back of my mind - you know, where you keep all the worries.

On the first day of kindergarten she pushed herself under the seat of the car and refused to get out. Immediately my thoughts raced to the words of the director and my heart sank. After that first day, she cheerfully went to school and became an A student thereafter. She graduated high school and college with honors. She is now 31 and became a school teacher of autistic children. I asked my daughter, "Why special needs kids?  Isn't it very difficult?" Her reply?  "I think I would be bored in regular Ed., Mom".

Valerie

Tags: Education, Feminism, Motherhood, Motherhood-Fatherhood, Parenting, Read On-Air, Social Issues, Values
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