I've recently caught a bit of grief from someone who will go unnamed about how my long hours are unfair to Ava. I think I've mentioned, but in case I haven't, I'm working long days on Tuesday and Wednesdays, with us being out of the house for 14+ hours those two days each week. And I concede that it sounds bad. But before you go passing judgment, let me just say, it's not as though I'm hauling Ava around to do manual labor, or sitting her in a stuffy office in a chair to be still and quiet all day. Sure, she's with me at "work", but when my work consists of taking her to play with her very best friends and having adventures like the LBJ Library and Museum, or an Austin Duck Adventure Tour, or a trip to the Dinosaur Museum, is she really worse off for it? In fact, those are things we'd do anyway, but rather than it just being me and her - and trust me, we do get in our wonderful mommy & Ava time - she gets to experience these things with children who've come to be like siblings to her, girls that she loves and that, through their interactions, she's been able to grow and learn so much and in unthinkable ways. Our arrangement, in fact, functions much like a Montessori set-up, with the big and little kids interacting and teaching one another skills well beyond their current stage of development. Have I mentioned Ava can write her numbers and letters? Not all of them, and not perfect, but in watching the two six-year-olds learn this skill, she's become interested and motivated as well. THESE are the things we do in our long days, as well as field trips, playing outside (including organized games that require other children and wouldn't be possible without me at my job), and her regular bath and mealtime routines. She even goes to bed there, so she's not missing out on any sleep due to my hours, and she's more flexible than most kids because of it. Basically, stick that in your pipe and smoke it, unnamed individual :P
Sorry for the rant, but when the comment was made, it really hurt my feelings. I lost some sleep and shed some tears thinking I was a bad mother, but really, what is the other option? Taking up with an office job and shipping Ava off to day care without me for long hours? Not that that's not a perfectly legit option, but since it doesn't have to be the way things are, I don't think it would be better for my particular child in comparison. We get to be together. We get to learn and play and explore both together, and with other children who we love. So I stopped losing sleep. And I've stopped feeling guilty. In fact, I think Ava's a lucky girl. Sure, I'd love to stay home with her. But that's not an option currently, and this is the next best thing for us. These are formative years. These are the years where her brain works twice as hard and is twice as active in acquiring new information, and she's getting it from so many places and from different angles than I could provide without my situation. We're blessed. And if you don't agree, that's fine, but live and let live, right?
Anyhow, here's some proof of how much Ava adores our work-life situation, in case you need it :)
Dressing up and painting nails - girl stuff dominates our time with six girls!
Enjoying the view of Lake Austin from a park on the banks, and feeding ducks :)
Working in a preschool workbook we picked up while looking for learning materials. She LOVES it!
Did I mention how wonderfully maternal and caring Ava is with little ones? Definitely benefit!
How can you not be convinced that A is a lucky, happy girl?
Hanging out with her buddies having a pajama party and winding down after a long day!
Picking out dozens of books to read before bedtime :)
Learning how to jump rope a bit ahead of schedule :)
And no matter what, we still find time just to ourselves, no matter how long the hours :)