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Non-Conformity Mommy Guilt

“Mommy, why haven’t I seen
Hannah at playgroup for a while?”

“Hannah’s in school now, honey, so she can’t come
to playgroup.”

“Well, Mommy, where’s Maxum?”

“He’s in school, too. So is Cody, and so is Maya.
That’s why you don’t see them at playgroup

Silence, then –

“Mommy, why don’t I get to go to school?”

I can’t even tell you how I answered
that – blessedly, those bumbling moments of fumbling for some
sort of understandable answer are a complete blank to me. But I
have felt a lot of guilt recently for being what feels like the
only person in the state to keep my three-year-old out of
preschool. Maddie’s the only three-year-old from her
playgroup not in preschool; a few go twice a week, while most go
thrice weekly. So I can’t help but have second-and third, and
fourth, and fifth- doubts over our decision to keep Maddie out for
at least another semester.

I keep going back over our decision, walking back the cat so to
speak, to make sure I arrive at the same conclusion each time, to
reassure myself that we really did think this thing through. And
our reasons are solid, for Maddie as an individual as well as for
us as a family. I know we did the right thing, but here
three-year-olds in school are a given in a way they certainly
weren’t in my New York life, and we’re definitely the

But I don’t have a great way of explaining it to my
three-year-old, and she does feel a bit left out. She’s
talked about school, and wanting to be a big kid so she can go
there, for so long that I see her wondering why she hasn’t
reached the same level as her friends. I try to tell her that we do
“school” things at home – her BrainQuest cards,
and her tracing books, for instance – and we get to do them
on our own time. And we also made the choice for financial reasons
as well, not seeing a clear need for her to be in school at this
time and thinking that tuition would be better put into her college
fund at this point. But most answers I can come up with will sound
either as if we don’t care enough about Maddie to invest in
her, or as if I’m judging other families: “Well honey,
some families send their children to school now, but I want to
spend all day with you still!” The implication being that
other parents don’t want to spend time with their kids.

Maddie hasn’t asked too much about it, so I play the whole
thing very casually. And I know that she’ll have to be in
school next year to prepare her for kindergarten: originally
kindergarten was supposed to exist simply to prepare kids for
school, but kindergarten seems to be the new first grade.
Don’t get me started on this. And I know that if Maddie has
to go to school next year, she should probably start somewhere next
semester to give her a better chance of getting in as a
four-year-old. Which means in all likelihood, Maddie will be
starting school in a few months. Ugh.

So I want to enjoy these last few months of babyhood with her, and
want her to enjoy them too, untinged by any feelings of
not-good-enough or stupidity. I also know my girlie dislikes change
in a big way, and I’ve got to start laying the groundwork now
for what a life in school would look like for her. And all the
while justifying my decision to keep my daughter out a bit longer.
To a three-year-old.

Gosh, when did life get so complicated?


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