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You Are Enough for Your Little Ones
When my children were babies we were living in downtown Toronto. My husband was a resident at the Hospital for Sick Children, and we were surrounded by high powered individuals. All of the other residents who had kids were female, and they didn't have anyone to stay at home with their children, so they all had nannies and day cares.

The neighbourhood I lived in offered many expensive and flashy day care centres, with sand pits and water play and art and music.

And all around me, parents were signing their children up for a few afternoons a week in Montessori, or in Waldorf, or in something else that was "stimulating". Even stay at home parents were signing their kids up for part-time day care. And I didn't.

I felt really guilty for a while. Was I depriving my children of the ultimate experience? Was I really enough for them?

It took me a while to realize that yes, I was enough. What children need is stability, love, and interaction, and I gave them all of that. They don't need fancy toys and play circles and lots and lots of peers. They just need the family. That's not to say that day care is always bad; I did sign my oldest one up for two afternoons a week, for three hours each, once we moved to Belleville, just so that I could finish a book I was working on while my younger one napped. Sometimes you do need to for your work's sake, and Rebecca did enjoy it.

What I feel strange about, looking back, though, is that I felt guilty for not signing my children up. I felt as if I were depriving them. And that's just plain silly.

Our culture is conspiring to tell mothers that they're not good enough. The powers that be want you to put your children in day care. Supposedly it creates jobs, and it feeds this idea that we need more teachers, more government, more schools. In Ontario, where I live, they are about to start full-time kindergarten for age 3 and up, I believe, even though studies show that full-time kindergarten has no educational benefits four years down the road. By that time, those who weren't in full-time have caught up. But there's this common thread through government that parents can't do it right, and that they need help.

My children learned to read young, but they didn't learn because of a day care. They learned because I took them to the library every week, and we read constantly. That was the environment they grew up in. You don't need a preschool to make them "school ready". You just need a mom who is involved in their lives.

My government is about to spend billions on something that parents can (and I believe should) do themselves. I understand that some parents have to work, and I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the fact that they're providing this full-time kindergarten so that even when parents stay at home others can be teaching their children. The government wants to make sure it's done right, and they can't trust you to do it.

This irks me. Irks isn't even a strong enough word. Enrages is perhaps too strong, but it sounds closer to the truth. Everywhere the family is under attack. Children shouldn't be raised by parents; let us do it for you. Let us teach your children to share. Let us teach your children to read. Let us teach your children our values, because you can't do it right.

No wonder parents feel inadequate! So if you're feeling like you're not doing a good enough job, because there's always laundry waiting to be folded all over your house, and you haven't sat down to play a game with your children in days because you're just trying to keep your head above water as you clean the house, deal with a fussy baby, or get Christmas presents bought with children in tow, remember that you are enough. You're not perfect, of course. None of us is. But you don't have to be.

Being a Mommy is such a privilege, and it's a sacred trust. Children were created to need mommies and daddies, not to need schools or day cares or extra stimulation. Even if your life feels chaotic, that's okay. At least your children have you. So don't worry too much about not being enough. Read to your kids. Give them crayons to draw. Now you've prepared them for school. But as you hug them, talk with them, walk with them, and love them, you've given them stability, confidence, and values. And that's preparing them for life in a way no school or day care ever could.

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At 9:26 AM , Anonymous Sallie said…

Great post, Sheila!! And thanks so much for your encouragement in your comment on my recent blog post. I very much appreciate it!!


At 9:37 AM , Blogger Courtney said…

Loved this post! I get irritated with parents who are able to stay at home with their children and pawn them off on someone else just because they don't "feel" like it.
Thanks for sharing! :)


At 10:41 AM , Blogger Shana said…

I would love to repost this, with credit and links going to you of course. This is so awesome and I think a lot of people need to read this. I have felt this way so many times. Thank you for making me feel better about my choice and God bless you.


At 11:24 AM , Blogger LAURA said…

My daughter is three and I can't imagine sending her to all day kindergarten! What would they do all day?? She would go nuts. I love being a stay at home mom.


At 11:44 AM , Blogger Tessa said…

I'm totally on the same page as you. Another thing that "irks" me about the government is that they PAY moms to go back to work!!! I income split with my husband and all of the sudden I got a government cheque because I pulled in an income last year! Why don't they pay moms who stay home with their kids? If you're going back to work (which I Totally understand some moms MUST do) then I think you should factor in the cost of child care as one of the expenses of doing so (just like factoring in fuel and work clothes).
Moms who stay at home with their children should get an extra tax benefit for doing so.


At 11:50 AM , Blogger Melissa G. said…

I agree! Thanks for sharing this!


At 12:14 PM , Blogger Valerie aka Mamalovelock said…

I needed this post today. I just created a post on my homeschooling blog about how I feel like I am failing in the homeschooling department. I just feel is inadequate, I needed this today. I often see other kids and wonder if I am doing the best thing for my kiddos. I am and thank you for making me see that again.


At 1:05 PM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Yes, yes, and YES. Now what do we do about it? As Canadian citizens, our government exists to serve us - whether individual politicians think so or not. WE need to advocate to change policies that are wrong or simply not in our best interests. Where to start? How about a phone call (or better still, a letter) to the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education, and our MPP. You may only be one person, but each letter or phone call is estimated to represent something like 40,000 people who didn't take the time to give their input.


At 3:05 PM , Blogger Berji's domain said…

Thanks for the affirmation. I am a SAHM of a 2.5 & 3 yr old (with one on the way). I have often wondered if I am depriving my children of something by not sending them to preschool. I am not creative enough to do all the "cool activities" and I wonder about social interaction. But finances just don't permit preschool to be an option for us. And when I think about all the junk they would learn on top of it, I'm pretty happy keeping them home with me to cook,clean, put laundry away, read and take walks together.


At 4:10 PM , Blogger Nevis said…

Great post as usual!


At 7:00 PM , Anonymous Kristine McGuire said…

I truly love this post Sheila. I had the honor of both staying at home with my children until they were well into school (homeschooling). The bond I share with my nearly grown daughters now because of that experience is immeasurable.

I also had the honor of being a preschool teacher and getting some of those young children ready for school.

The sad reality is...there are a lot of parents who simply don't want to parent. They expect the government, the teachers, the schools to do it for them.

I believe we need to do more to lift up parents and encourage their participation in their child's life.


At 7:36 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Hi everybody! Thanks for your comments!

I'm glad you feel like I touched a nerve with you, because I wasn't sure I expressed it well. But Kristine, I do agree that too many parents think that they don't have to parent! And I'm not sure what to do about that.

Remember, God created mothers before He created teachers. That's what kids needed. And we are enough!


At 7:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

So good and so true--and so sad. Our gov't is pretty much the same way. I am still thankful everyday that homeschooling is still legal and try to soak up what I can.
Like you, it really upsets me that gov't thinks parents are inadequate. :(
Thank you for this encouragement. Bless you!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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