It’s easier to forget why we’re all here. Well that’s not quite fair. We’re all here for various reasons I suppose. The many of us who are parents usually claim we’re here to make the world a better place for our children. To give them what we couldn’t have, whether that is materially, spiritually, morally, or whatever else you value. The thing is, at what cost? Does working an eighty hour week make sense? Just to get them into a private school? If it means you will not get to know them? So you’ve given them a private education. Might they have been better off emotionally with two parents who were present and loving and a mediocre school?
Today I brought my kids for ice-cream. I hummed and hawed over whether I should buy them the sugary treat. I’ve been buying them too much crap lately. I decided to go ahead anyway. I figured a bit of peace and family bonding was worth the sugar. And you know what? It was. The four of us hung out at the edge of a park, ate our ice-cream and chatted. Like actually talked to each other with no fighting – a near miracle. Afterwards the three kids played in the nearby playground, with the older two keeping an eye on the youngest. Once again no fighting. That is what reminded me of what I’m writing about now.
Living in the moment. In everything – yes, but most importantly with our children. My oldest in nearly twelve! How on earth did that happen? It’s ridiculous. Time is going way to fast. All parents say so. We all know so, but it really is true. They’re all going to be living their own lives before we know it. We need to be enjoying them now, while we still have them, and while they still are willing to be seen with us – dead or alive.
I asked my husband yesterday when he might stop working seventy hour weeks. It is draining on all five of us. I am not currently working, so it is somewhat of a necessity, but leaves the rest of us stressed with each other. He has minimal time with the kids, and when he does, wants to spoil them materially. That’s not healthy for anyone. He said he would when they are born. That is not healthy either. I goes back to what I said at the start. Why bother having kids, if the only thing you’re going to do for them is support them financially. He laid out his position in a flippant manner. When I pushed him on it, to clarify, to gives his reasons, he back-tracked. I asked, when I was earning some again, would he be done, he agreed. There are plenty of one-parent families that work well. If you have a two-parent family, why not have both parents involved?
As the phrase at the top says, kids are also our future. We can’t just think of the present. Laying a solid foundation, however, means a successful future is far more likely for your children. I am not for a minute suggesting that you send your kid to the worst school in town and give them hugs and all will be well. I am suggesting you find a balance. Our neighbor elementary school is nowhere near the best in the city. It is solid, has a great principal, and good neighborhood involvement. It’s one of the main reasons we bought our house. Our house was affordable. Houses are proportionately expensive to how good the neighborhood Chicago Public Schools school is. Sadly the neighborhood High School gets 1 out of 10. Now that score is way worse than the school actually is, but still – I really do not want to send the kids there. I don’t know what we’ll do. Do we hope we’ve loved the kids enough to get through it okay? We certainly can’t afford private school for three kids. Do we move to the ‘burbs? Do what so many White families do? What so many “cool” people mock “not-cool” people for doing? That would be the people who can afford to send they kids to private, or can afford to live in decent school areas. Many of these live in shoe-boxes to afford this. We live in a house. A very beat-up one, but a decent size house, with a huge back yard. I like living in the city. I like being able to drive downtown if I need to, in ten minutes without traffic, an hour with – haha. In the burbs multiply that by a heck of a lot more.
I was in Northbrook today. It was beautiful and sunny. Perfect early May weather. The kids and I were eating ice-cream. Afterwards they played in the playground. [All mentioned earlier]. It was picture perfect. We drove through a lovely neighborhood on our way to our doctor’s appointment. I thought to myself ‘I could live like this‘. Northbrook is pretty expensive though. And it’s twenty miles from the city. And it’s almost exclusively white. It does have great schools though. Low crime. I imagine in the winter, it is even more isolatory than Chicago. How does it feel when there are mountains of snow and it is 10 below? How would we get to work when we’ve had 18″ of snow the night before. How do we scramble for daycare for the kids when there are snow days that rarely happen in Chicago? Suburban commuters seem to manage, so I guess we would too. There seems to be a much higher percentage of stay at home moms in the suburbs however. That’s probably their way of being with their kids in the present and the future.
Is my desire to work doing the opposite? Keeping me away from my kids in the present? Or does it keep me sane enough to deal with them in the now when I’m around then? Is it a case of different strokes for different folks? Mothers have the worst tendency to judge ourselves, and each other over every little thing. Working and not working being one of the biggest. In the end, all we can do is what we feel is right for us, our kids, our family. And when we are with our kids, being present. To use screen time sparingly (says a mother who allows it when worn out). I am so far from perfect. Way past Pluto on the scale. But I’m doing my best-ish-maybe-ish. My kids are loved. They know they’re loved. And that’s the best gift you can give a child.