Above: Morgan’s first Christmas Concert at Day Care (she’s in the red).
I have a confession to make. I was (for a long time) the person who said: “I will never homeschool my children – ever!”. I had made up my mind about homeschooling families. They were all fundamental Christians, too fearful of exposing their children to “The Real World”. They were closed-minded. They were small-minded. They were deluded. Oh, I could go on… (and it’s not pretty).
“When I have children, I’m going to send them to normal school! Children who don’t go to school will grow up as social hermits!”, I declared.
I write this blog… shaking my head… feeling embarrassed… and humbled.
Morgan was born in November 2005. At the time, I had a full-time nanny. The nanny would arrive at 7am and would take over Mom-duties – and I would go to work.
At the time, I had my own graphic design studio. It was called COPS Creative Corporation and I employed 8 people. It wasn’t a big studio – but it was big enough to entirely devour my life, my commitment and my time… and it did! I worked days, nights, weekends. Morgan was somehow slotted in to all of that.
I relied strongly on the nanny (Adelaide). For the first part of Morgan’s life, she probably (no – definitely) spent more time with Adelaide than she spent with me. Adelaide played with her, fed her, changed her, bathed her and cooked supper for our family. And I worked… and worked… and worked. And Nick worked… worked… and worked.
When Morgan was 9 months old, I sent her to Day Care. I’d drop her off at 7:15am and collect her in the afternoon at 5:30pm. The staff at the Day Care fed her, cared for her and even did most of the potty-training. Morgan was at Day-Care (or “school” as she called it) for three and a half years.
Joah was born in March 2008. He was sent off to join his sister at Day Care when he was 6 months old. He stayed there for over 2 years.
The owner of the Day Care, Lettie, worked hard to ease any parental… concerns… as to whether we were doing the “right thing” by leaving our babies in the hands of strangers for most of their days. She had a notice board full of encouraging information and a few newspaper articles and studies about how Day Care created confident children – leaders… and how the constant intermingling with other children would prepare them (in many ways) to face The Real World.
I wanted to believe it was all true and so I ignored the niggling feeling in my heart that simply yearned… to be with my children… to invest into their lives… to know them so much more. But I didn’t allow myself to dwell too strongly on those feelings. I had a business to run, after all. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of time. Most families have two working parents… most mothers have jobs and, therefore, utilise the services of Day Care. Day Care was ‘good’. Day Care was ‘healthy’. Day Care was best for my kids.
“And besides”, I told myself, “I have no other choice”.
And then… one afternoon…
“Mommy, Hannah says I have a fat mommy”
“Hannah says you’re fat. Tayla said it too”.
When I quizzed my daughter further, I discovered that her little friends had been discussing diets and weight. One of them had already decided to embark upon a diet (like her mommy) – and all of them were terrified of being “fat” or “ugly”. They were 4 years old. Four!!! My child was discussing diets and how-to-stay-thin at the age of four!!!
There were other things.
The children weren’t encouraged to think for themselves. “Art” Lessons involved photocopies of line drawings which children were told to “colour in neatly” with their crayons. “Music” lessons involved screamy parrot-fashioning. Teachers were instructing the kids on what religion they ought to “believe in”. Discipline involved shaming. There was an overarching sense of “These are the rules. There are lots of them. It’s of utmost importance that you obey them”.
In a sense… pretty much like “school” – whether primary school, high-school or, in this case, pre-school.
A while later, I found myself sitting in the company of the other mothers. It was the birthday party of one of Morgan’s Day Care friends and all of us had been invited to the party. I sipped on my tea and listened to the general conversation. Schools were discussed. Diets were discussed. The ugly outfit some woman wore to the prize giving was discussed. Men were discussed (in a very negative way). Jobs were discussed. And then it was back to diets… and getting thin.
I sipped on my tea demurely while, internally, my head felt like it would explode. I was screaming… and screaming… “Get me OUT of here!!!!! Get me OUT of HERE!”
And by “out of here”… I didn’t just mean out of the party… or out of the company of those women… what I actually meant was: “Get me OUT of this entire LIFE! This system! This revolting routine! This life-sucking lifestyle! Where we work-eat-sleep… and work-eat-sleep… and work-eat-sleep…. and watch television… and live apart from our children and our loved ones… and pay endless bills… and buy endless mountains of CRAP… and pay more bills… and work-eat-sleep some more…. and watch more TV… and obsess about our bodies… and diets… and the latest fashions… and the latest gossip… and we infect our kids with this absolute meaningless SHIT…. Get me OUT! I don’t want this life! I don’t want it for myself, I don’t want it for Nick and I certainly don’t want it for my children!”
And so, I got out.
Interestingly, my husband and I both reached that same point-of-no-return at about the same time… that “Get me OUT of here!” decision was as real for him as it was for me.
I shut down my graphic design business. We helped our wonderful nanny to set up her own business (which was always her Big Dream) – she no longer works for us. I did a complete about-turn in the kind of work and projects I was prepared to take on (and now, can confidently say, that not only do I enjoy my work – but I particularly love the TIME it affords me to spend with my family).
I took the kids out of Day Care. They’ve been out for 2 years now. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this beautiful privilege: spending time with my kids… playing with them… learning with them… travelling with them…. knowing them. I feel blessed and fortunate.
At the beginning of this year, all of Morgan’s Day Care friends were sent to primary school. Morgan stayed at home. Next year, we’re not only leaving The Old Life in spirit (which we’ve already done)… but we’re actually LEAVING. We’ve paid off all our debts and we’re selling our home. Early next year, we’ll be embarking upon a long-term Travel-the-World adventure and completely new way of life – and we can’t wait!
We made the decision to “get out”… and we did.
And you know what? None of us could be happier! 🙂