I’m a working mom, and though at times I don’t want to be, I’m proud to be a working mom. But today my frustration is directly related to the “don’t want to be” part. It seems to me that those who have school age children are of the same mind: schools act as though everyone has a stay at home parent!
Now my son is 5, will start kindergarten this fall, and I am already pulling my hair out in frustration. Let me start by describing my community:
We are a farm based community, and as such, the population is low and greatly made up of people that fall into the migrant worker category. Our town has exactly one preschool, technically it is a migrant council head start, and as such has very limited openings with very specific restrictions, of which we don’t qualify. And that’s okay, but on top of this there is not a single licensed daycare provider in this town (facility or home based-nothing!).
With this being the case, children either attend preschool in a neighboring town (20 miles away), don’t go to pre-school, or are accepted to the migrant council head start. I chose to homeschool for preschool, and from what I can tell my son is good to go, but I am concerned that he has not sat through a real school setting, just Sunday school, and I’m not sure that counts. Anyway, our school offers what they call “Kinder Camp”. It’s a program offered (next week actually) that allows the kids to experience ½ day kindergarten and the teachers get to evaluate and decide how to split up classes. I’m very excited about this especially since for many of these kids English is their 2nd language, and with not having a preschool, the kids are all over the board.
When I registered my son for kindergarten I was told this camp would take place, and I would receive information on it when it came closer. Not how long it was, full day vs 1/2 day, or anything of usefulness. Actually the school didn’t really even post anything on kindergarten registration at all, I had to ask about it, and a friend mentioned a flyer was sent home with her kids. Anyway, I finally get a postcard in the mail Saturday (the 7th!) saying the mandatory orientation for kinder camp would be at 8:30am on the 16th. That’s all the info on this post card by the way! So I call, turns out it’s a 2 week program, from 8:30-12:30 M-F. WTF! Let’s not make it easy or give notice!
I work in town for a pretty flexible company, and that’s even hard for me to swing. Reminder, there is no daycare in town! So I was all excited because I’ve been taking my son to Moses Lake (roughly 15 mile commute) to daycare, but found a high school girl to watch my son once she gets out of school, and then once he starts school she can watch him in the afternoons too. This is great, my girl can’t drive. So for my son to attend, not only do I need to arrange on 1 week notice to have the morning off (I got lucky and my department is just going to shut down for a few hrs so I can attend), I have to figure out transportation too. Luckily my work was okay with me shifting my schedule 30 minutes for 2 weeks, but how many others can do that? Oh and as it turns out, when school starts, the 1st two days for the kindergarten kids will be ½ days, but not for anyone else (new vacation day request – 2 days for school, yeah me).
The more I get into this the more grateful I am for the job I have (4 weeks’ vacation, holidays off, and about 2 weeks off at Xmas); most jobs are not that flexible. What about other parents? Why do schools act like you are the minority for working? I’m a mom who doesn’t work from home, I bust my booty to be a good mom, help provide for my family, and yet I get a guilt trip for working. WTF! If you are able to stay home that is awesome, and many “stay-at-home moms” are working no doubt about it, but that job is still the less common job. Yet somehow in my immediate circle I am actually the only “work-away-from-home” mom. Not sure how that happened, but some days I am incredibly jealous and have to remind myself of the benefits I have from my work.
So for those in a similar position remember the pluses:
* life enriched by co-workers and other connections (adult conversation & new friends)
* spending flexibility (though it may not be much for some, it’s more than nothing)
* Child social interaction (for me this is the only real kid time my son gets)
* Good medical insurance
* Vacation and holiday time allow extra at home time for the big things (sorry this isn’t relevant for my friends in LE, EMS, ect).
Dear Warden School District & multiple others,
Thanks for reminding me of all the great stuff I can’t do with my kid.