“Oh, I could never go back to working. I just love my kids too much!”
That was something a mother said to me at the park right after the birth of my first son, Dax. My maternity leave was almost over, and the clock was counting down to the minute where I’d have to leave my baby and go back to work full-time. I was a ball of raging emotions, and this comment tipped me over the edge.
Of course I loved my newborn baby. Of course I did! How could a mother NOT love her child? I loved him so much that it physically hurt me sometimes, and of course I wanted to spend every waking moment of my life with him, but I if I didn’t go back to work, my husband and I wouldn’t have been able to make ends meet with his meager public school teacher salary.
Because I was a brand new mom when this comment was made, it really shook my insecurities awake. I felt so judged and ashamed for working outside of the home, so I did everything possible to make it so that when my second son Case was born, I was working full-time from INSIDE the home as a freelancer. This way, I could keep all of our bills paid while reassuring the rest of the world that I did, in fact, actually love my children.
A few days ago, a whole five years after that initial exchange, my insecurities were revived. I was scrolling through Twitter (I know, I KNOW) and I saw that another mom I follow had jumped into a thread about homeschooling.
“When parents send their kids to school [instead of homeschooling them] it must be because they hate spending time with them.”
This tweet fell on my eyes just days after completing my son’s registration to start Kindergarten at – you guessed it – a public school.
Even with five years of mothering under my belt, I still felt the hot pangs of shame in my belly when I read this stupid tweet. Of course I love spending time with my kids. I do. However, just like that mom’s comment at the park all those years ago, this mom’s tweet had me second-guessing everything I knew about myself as a mom.
For about five minutes. And then I snapped out of it, and channeled my energy into plotting a tweetstorm of a retort to that mom (and that Non-Working Park Mom while I was at it).
Oh, you think the reason I’m not homeschooling my kids is because I don’t love them or love spending time with them? Well, you’re wrong. SO wrong. The whole reason I am NOT homeschooling my children is because I DO love them. As a matter of fact, I love my kids SO MUCH that there is no WAY I could POSSIBLY homeschool them.
There are people in this world who are trained and educated in core subjects AND child development, who are passionate about teaching children. While I love my kids, I’m neither of those things. I am not skilled in pedagogy, nor do I hold an iota of passion for it. Why would I subject my children to learning from me? They’d get a terrible education. In other words, parents who homeschool their children must do so because they value being everything to their kids over their kids receiving a quality education.
But I would never do that. Mostly because I don’t believe it, but also because reductive parenting statements like that are terribly dangerous and offensive. And I am just so sick of it.
Here’s an idea: let’s all just stop assuming that parents who make differing choices about raising their children are doing so because they want to harm their kids. Just like it’s not fair to assume that I don’t love my children or love spending time with them because I had to work outside the home and am choosing to send them to public school, it’s definitely not fair for me to assume that homeschooling parents must value their appearance over their children’s education.
Here’s the deal. Working parents love their kids, and probably miss their kids when they’re at work. Parents who don’t work love their kids, but probably wish they could have a conversation with an adult every now and again without being interrupted by a screaming toddler. Homeschooling parents love their kids and truly believe that educating them in their home or through a homeschooling co-op is the best way to raise them into fully functioning adults. Parents who send their kids through more conventional schooling paths love their kids and believe that trained educators will be the best partners in raising their children into fully functioning adults.
Bottom line? Working parents love their kids. Non-working parents love their kids. Homeschooling parents love their kids. Non-homeschooling parents love their kids.
No further discussion (or tweets) necessary.