Em is in school three days a week. He loves it. It took a few weeks for him to adjust, a few weeks of holding onto my neck for dear life every morning, but those days are gone. Now, he doesn’t even say goodbye. He just walks into the “The Science Center” (an area in the room with cool textures, shapes and sounds) and doesn’t look back.
It’s been great.
It’s also been expensive.
We’re in an awkward position as a family, a position I imagine many New Yorkers are in. It’s the position where the amount you pay out is dangerously close to the amount you take in, so you can’t ever really get ahead where a savings is concerned. That’s not to say we don’t have a savings. We do. It’s just not enough for a down payment. So, should we continue paying for things like Em’s schooling (or living in an overpriced apartment), we’ll never get ahead in order to buy our own home.
You see the predicament?
Today is the final deadline to reenroll Em in school for fall. We definitely can’t afford the 5-day; I would have to currently have a full time job to make that worthwhile. We can’t really afford the 3-day either. We discussed the 2-day school week, which we can afford, but we’d have to tap into our savings in order to do so.
Toby doesn’t want to do that. I can’t say that I blame him. We’re in the middle of a recession right now. Even the most secure job right now isn’t all that secure. Who wants to tap into their savings when the future is so uncertain?
I want Em to interact with kids his own age regularly, especially since kids thrive on repetition. Plus, he loves it. He has made amazing progress in the brief time he’s been attending school and I have met some pretty great mothers there as well. Socializing is very important to me.
It’s conceivable that I could arrange regular playdates with kids in the neighborhood. After all, that’s what my mom did with us. But I face another roadblock.
While there are other stay-at-home mothers living in Brooklyn, we are a small minority. Out of all the mothers I hang out with, only one has parenting listed as her full time job.
Living in a city has its advantages. I love Brooklyn and I adore the mothers I have come to know over the years. But I’m a minority here. That’s all there is to it. If I were to start a regular playdate, I can tell you exactly how that would look: it would be Emory, myself, and a couple of Tibetan nannies toting around someone else’s kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I do not sit in judgement of this, I’m merely telling you how it is here.)
There are weekly readings offered at our local library, which I have been to a few times. They are great for him. He listens and interacts with the other children (for a scant 45 minutes, but still). Me? I leave feeling even lonelier because almost every other adult there happens to be a nanny. (I’ve also been turned away because they only have room for 20 people.)
I’m not complaining. I usually only complain when I know how to go about fixing something but really don’t want to deal with it. This time, I want to figure it out. I’m willing to make it happen—I want Em and myself to find a regular group of kids and moms to socialize with. I just have no idea how to.
Taking Em out of school is fine. But taking him out of school also means no more regular social time and that’s not something I feel comfortable with.
I’m in search of creative ideas and answers to this problem (and yes, I think it’s a growing problem). Getting Em around other kids is something I am very passionate about. I wish there were more communities and events in place for SAHs. Our culture seems to be built around both family members having to work outside of the home. I reckon this change took place sometime after the feminist movement—which is great, I am all for equality—but I can’t help to ask: what example were we trying to apply equality?
Perhaps feminism needs to be redefined entirely to meet present day needs within the culture of now. In some ways, I think the future good health of our society depends on it.
My question to you all is this: when did the term “feminist” or “working woman” stop including “stay-at-home mother”? Staying home to raise children shouldn’t be seen as giving up and it shouldn’t mean kissing your other career goodbye. A person who chooses this route should not be made to feel like lesser of a feminist, working individual, or asset to society compared to someone who leaves the house and visits an office every day.
I think that because of this transformation and way of thinking, there is a huge void for stay-at-home moms where community is concerned and because of that void, and the isolation that comes with it, choosing to stay home and raise our kids becomes the less appealing option. And that, my friends, is a crying shame.
But I’m not yet willing to give up that easy. Let’s get out of our living rooms and put on something other than sweatpants and start a SAH revolution.