I have an only child who is four. We have literally been attached at the hip since her birth. Dh and I have never left her with anyone other than my mil for a couple of hours and that's always in our home. I love being with her and fully intended to keep it this way. We normally spend our days together tv free, going on fun day trips and playing, singing, reading, cooking, etc.
But lately, I have been struggling ttc #2 and have gone through months of medical treatments and IVF which has left me with miscarrying right now. It's been very hard and stressful for us. I am so depressed it's hard to get out of bed. I've started seeing a therapist to try and get through this.
I have no energy to play with dd right now. I feel like an awful mother. I feel like I'm failing her everyday. She's probably watched more tv in the last month than she has in her whole life. I don't know how much longer we can go on this way. I have no family or close friends nearby that could help out. She is a very sensitive child and I have HUGE worries about her being able to adjust in a school setting but I also worry that being at home with me is not healthy for her right now.
So my question is ... do you think I should enroll her in at least a part time school program or just try to get through this together? I've always fully intended to homeschool so I can't believe I'm even thinking of this. I want to do what's best for her but I really don't know what that is. I'm afraid I'll be making a foolish decision right now because it's out of grief and I'm not thinking clearly.
mama to three little ladies
(((hugs))) I'm sorry for your struggle and your loss.
I'm a homeschooler who sends her kids to preschool. It gives my 4 year old a chance to play with other kids, sing more songs then I know, use more art supplies then I have. She loves it and overall its been a positive experience.
I do what works and when it stops working, then I do something else.
Oh mama, I'm so sorry for your stress. ((((((Hugs)))))) That's gotta be so hard. Trust me, you are NOT a bad mother at ALL...the very fact that you are here, venting your frustrations and concerns and asking for help in making a shift...is pretty much all the proof in the world anyone would need that you are a concerned, involved mama.
She and you BOTH may really benefit, while you are struggling like this, with a small, Montessori type program three days a week for a couple-few hours a day. You could eveeeeennnn....stick with me on this one....maybe find a local therapist who is close to the school and go there once a week while your DD is in her play time?? TTC stress is ----no joke---- and it may really benefit you to talk with someone.
I know I just mentioned two things that both cost money and I'm not sure what your financial situation is right now...but you sound depressed, mama, and I think that talking to someone may really help you. But even if that is not in the cards....having your DD somewhere where she is singing, working, playing with friends and learning three days a week for three hours at a time, will help you feel much better about what she's doing with her days and will give you time to really be introspective and start making a plan for doing what YOU need.
Our kids have to come first, it's true.....but there is a place that comes even before that, before first place, it's called just being okay in your own heart. You've got to take care of you, mama, and it would make me feel so much more peace about your situation if some of the pressure with DD was off your shoulders and someone who is warm, caring, qualified and TOTALLY about you, would be sitting by your side, listening to you talk about where you are and what's going on inside you.
Seriously, what you are going through can be so devastating, don't for a single moment doubt that. This feels awful because it IS awful....the best mama in the world would be struggling with what you've got on your plate.
Be kind to yourself. Don't think you are a bad mama...you are a GOOD MAMA....be good to YOU, too. We are here for you. I'm so incredibly sad for your loss. :(
Me and DH ...lovin' DD (6/08) and DS (11/09) Plus NEW BABY!! DD (UC-5/12) We Water Birth/Homebirth/No Vax or Circ/BF/BW/Country Livin'!
I am so sorry for your loss and struggles.
You sound like a wonderful mama to your DD.And you sound like you are doing a lot to help improve the things you are frustrated about with your situation, especially getting support from a therapist. You may not see the positive impacts of those actions yet, but I think they will be coming.
It also sounds like you are doing the very best you can to care for your daughter right now and the fact that she is safe and healthy is a testament to that. I know that a lot of families on MDC are tv-free (for full disclosure, we are not) and I personally enjoy when I am able to do more active things with my DD, so I can relate that you'd rather be going on fun day trips and playing, singing, reading, cooking, etc. than having her watch TV. But, in my opinion, watching TV is not the a completely horrible activity (as one friend said to me "it's not like giving your child rat poison or cocaine") and if it's entertaining her in the short-term and giving you the time and space and energy to figure out what you and she both need, I suggest be gentle with yourself about it and trying to let go of the guilt about it.
In terms of enrolling your daughter in a program, I will share my experience in cases it's helpful. We have our DD home most of the time, but she recently started to attend a program two mornings a week that's an alternate to preschool (it's not structured like a school, is outdoors, etc.) that was a good (not perfect) match to our values. My DP gave her a lot of support during the transition (e.g. we went against a lot of conventional advice about short drop-offs, etc.) and now she is thriving there. I still plan to homeschool, but this experience has helped me feel more comfortable with having her do some other things and I think I will keep that up even when we homeschool. So I believe that having your DD go to a program now (if that's what you choose) doesn't mean you can't homeschool later if you want to.
I'll thinking of you and feel free to PM if you like.
I'm so sorry for what you are going through.
May be finding a very part time, play based program could add a little structure to your week (which really helps me when I am depressed) as well as give you a bit of time to do little things for yourself, such as see your therapist, get a pretty hair cut, brows a book shop, or anything else you would enjoy. Having struggled with depression as a mother, adding a little structure to the week would be the top of my "pro" list for reasons to try preschool. Structure helps us get unstuck.
School choices tend to change over time. My kids homeschooled for a long time, attended traditional school for a while, and now go to an alternative school. Just do what works for right now. You can do something totally different next year. I know when my kids were little, I thought education was a one time decision that I could just make based on what I thought was best, but reality is that different things have been best for each of my kids at different times. Just deal with the present.
but everything has pros and cons
You're in a tough spot right now. You're grieving the loss of a baby, your hormonal, and you're under a lot of stress right now. Honestly, I'd be worried about you if you weren't feeling a bit down. As someone else noted, you're doing things to get well -- you're seeing a therapist.
I'll paraphrase something one of my friends/colleagues told me when I was going through my major mental health issues in September: "It's OK to be a B mother sometimes." (She actually said "It's OK to be a B teacher" but it transfers to a lot of contexts!)
If you think enrolling her in preschool part time would be good for YOU or for her, then by all means do it. It's OK to say you can't do it all. You need to take time for yourself to heal. If it's easier for you to heal when you know she's well-cared for, then fine. 4 is a good age to start some activities with groups of kids, as 4 year olds are pretty social. But, it's also OK to have her watch TV for a few weeks or months while you heal. Really.
Thank you so much. All your kind words are very appreciated. It feels good to know that I'm not out of my mind to consider this.
To elaborate a little bit ... I just wonder if enrolling her somewhere would bring more trouble than relief. I want her to be happy and to feel secure and loved. I doubt abruptly separating us will accomplish that. She is not at all a social kid. She hates loud noise. She cannot handle chaos. We've been known to frequent the playground at sunrise to avoid her getting overwhelmed by lots of other kids. She gets upset if things get dirty or messy. Basically everything typical daycares and preschools are like would drive her to hysteria. I was thinking Montessori might be okay for her if eased into it super slowly but it's so expensive in our area it's criminal. I'm thinking of maybe looking into Waldorf. I don't know. I worry that the separation would be so hard for both of us that it would offset any benefits it may have. I'd be spending money we don't have to worry all day that my baby is scared and miserable somewhere instead of worrying that I'm rotting her brain with cartoons? It's kind of like a lesser of two evils thing. Does this make any sense?
mama to three little ladies
Also, I was worried sick when dd went to preschool. She had no problems & loved it. Your dd might surprise you! Mine did. I worked hard to not let my worry show, but, cried in my car after I dropped her off. All for nothing; she adjusted well. Keep in mind, many people believe that a minimum of 3x per week is necessary for school to become part of a routine and familiar to the child. Don't know if this is true.
For us preschool wasn't an easy out, nor a sign of failure, but, something enriching that both of my kids loved. Maybe you can work to change your thinking about it. Not only is it for you to have time to heal, but, also for your dd to experience fun, new things & grow. Despite my initial worry, preschool was a tremendously positive influence in my kids life.
I'm sorry you're going through such a difficult time.
What about your local art museum, zoo, aquarium, children's museum, etc? Sometimes they have programs for children where the parent can drop them off, but rather than being like a full preschool program, it's more of a specialized "class" for an hour or two at a time once or twice a week. Similar to library storytime if you've ever attended one of those (the good ones, anyway! We've been to some wild ones too!). And because of how it's set up, with a particular interest being explored and generally more structured, it might be less overwhelming for her than being dropped off in a big noisy classroom full of unfamiliar toys and 15+ kids? You might also try your rec center. at 4 years old parents don't always have to stay for the programs and there might be a few classes that would interest her....dance or art or swimming (although I personally am too nervous to leave my almost 4 yr old alone in swim class.) I know it doesn't quite give you the extended break you need but it might be a good middle ground and as someone else who has a major struggle with depression I concur that having structure can really, really help. Where you're not feeling up to getting out of bed, knowing that you paid $35 for whatever class might help "force" you to get up and get your day started, and once you're dressed and outside on your way, you might find that you're feeling a bit better and it might motivate you to do something else you otherwise wouldnt have had energy for. At least, it does for me. It's not a cure by any means, but it helps sometimes. I'm so sorry for your loss, by the way.
Very blessed mama to one bouncin' boy (12/07) one who didn't get to stay (6/09), one potty learning, mess making diva(4/10), and one cheerful milk monster. (12/11) Happy partner to the love of my life.
It does make sense, and if I had a magic wand, I'd use it to help you relax about your DD. Lots of kids enjoy preschool, and many cities of options that are quite mellow only last a couple of hours. They play, have story, have a snack, make a craft, go home. Some are quite inexpensive. I don't know what the options are in your area, and they do vary a lot from place to place. Our city's parks and rec has one that is like 3 hours long, twice a week. It's more like an extended playdate. You could just check out what your options are, and take your DD to go see them. There might be something she would really enjoy.
One of my DD's has Sensory Processing Disorder, so she's a bit like your DD, only in such an extreme form that much of life is overwhelming for her. She used to homeschool, but now goes to a very mellow alternative school and is happier. Sometimes, it's all about finding the RIGHT place for a kid. My DD loves the green house at her school. She loves to water the plants. You could just make some calls and just see what there is.
We've gone through period where my kids watched a lot of TV because of stressful situations, but then we get back to normal. I'm all for minimizing screen time for kids -- I've read the research. But my own experience with my own kids is that temporarily using the TV to zone out during a difficult situation doesn't do long term harm. It's just temporary, like putting on a band aid. Just to get you through.
Neither preschool nor a TV are evil. Needing a little help and a little pressure makes you a normal human being. You are still a good mother. It's OK.
Beating our selves up over not living up to our own strenuous standards doesn't help our kids.
but everything has pros and cons
Do you know anyone who might have an older child/teen to come and play with her for a little while... like a mother's helper? Our county libraries have great programs where the parents stay, but the kids go off and do activities. I spent a lot of time reading, journaling and collecting my thoughts this way. My dd went to Pre-K when she was 4 and it was for 2 hours 5 days a week. Took a month for her to get settled, but it was soooo good for her... and for me too. Then kindergarten was full day and not at all good for her. We gave it 2 months and then pulled he rout and homeschooled for the rest of that year. Which felt crazy to me because I am a teacher and like the public schools in this area. But then I found that having her here all day was not right for us either. We need some space, and she is doing much better socially now that she is back. But my point is that it really taught me to be flexible. It's hard to predict how they will react to school.
ETA: Send me a message if you have any questions/want to talk to someone who had a similar struggle.
You sound like a wonderful Mama. I am sorry you are having struggles right now. It sounds like you have really prioritized your daughter, and as a mom, I made some similar choices with my son. I stayed home with him, we were totally into being with him, he watched minimal TV, etc. But, when he was 2 and a half, I had some serious health problems, and I had to prioritize myself for a while. And while I did things I would have frowned on before, I did things that kept us afloat during that time (I think he ate McDonalds 4 times in one week, which he had never had before, and at 7 y.o., probably hasn't had 4 times since, and watched tons of TV, which he didn't normally do). So, my opinion is this - as parents, we have ideas about how we want to parent and raise our kids. But things come up along the way, and, I think, it is so important to be flexible with those ideals. Really meeting your daughter's needs right now partly means meeting your needs so you can be available to her and so you can get yourself to a better place, and sending her to preschool part time might be a wonderful way to do that. It might be a nice break for you AND for her if she went to school, got to be with other kids, interacted with other adults for a while, etc. My son went to a very sweet preschool and loved it. There are places where kids might be really bummed and crying for their moms, but there are also some lovely places where your kiddo would be happy and well cared for.
So, my opinion is this - as parents, we have ideas about how we want to parent and raise our kids. But things come up along the way, and, I think, it is so important to be flexible with those ideals. Really meeting your daughter's needs right now partly means meeting your needs so you can be available to her and so you can get yourself to a better place,
Very well said, mamadebug!
I just couldn't read your post and not reply... I've been where you are right now, and it was SO hard. I'm glad that you are seeing a therapist and seem to be giving yourself permission to go through all these feelings. In my case, I had secondary infertility (after getting pg with DD relatively easily) as well as 3 miscarriages during the 2+ years (most IUI cycles and 2 IVF attempts). My DD was a little younger than yours, but a few things helped me get through it. First, the therapist. I found one that specialized in fertility issues, and this was a lifesaver.... not to mention a time-saver since I didn't have to explain everything in detail. Second, I MADE myself act as normally as possible with DD for as long as I could, and then we got into the car, I put on an audiobook or CD, gave her a favorite snack and drink, and we drove while I cried (she couldn't see me from where she was, I actually moved her seat to behind me for this exact reason). Saved my sanity to know I could get a good cry in without worrying about how it felt to her.
I think that your DD might LOVE some sort of more structured preschool/drop off activity! Maybe you could start slow like with a class where the parents are in sight, but not actually involved in the activity (DD1 took a gym class like this) and see how she does?
I know that as I became more and more heartbroken and hopeless about having another child, I started being incredibly hard on myself every.single.time I wasn't "perfect mommy" to DD. If I raised my voice at all, wasn't 100 percent fun/entertaining/patient/understanding at all times, I'd immediately think something along the lines of, "See, THIS is why I can't have another baby. Of course I can't... I can't even do right by the ONE I have. I don't deserve another one". Those kinds of thoughts would spiral quickly for me. I only tell you about it just in case you ever have the same thoughts... it helped me SO much to talk about the IF and losses with friends and coworkers and to hear others tell me that I was a good mommy and was doing a good job.
Be gentle with yourself. I'm so sorry about your loss.
I think a really great fun school is good for anybody. Keeping her all to yourself may or may not be a bad thing. But, if she wants to play with friends, I'd send her. You can always go observe in a few schools or preschools to see what it looks like to her. I don't know where you live, but some states don't have wonderful daycare centers. But, they often have amazing preschools that have different classes. You could choose 2 day, or 3 day, half day or full day, depending on what spaces they have available.
However, you two can probably work this out together. I bet she's a lot more resilient than you think.
I'm so sorry you are going through this. I have no idea what it's like, or what you are going through. But, it sounds miserable.
Some kind of program sounds like a great idea. I know u are worried about the social aspect of it that your daughter isn't used to, but maybe something in small doses will be good for her in this aspect too.
The only way that I would think this might not be a good idea is if you will be tempted to just have your husband take her on his way to work, and you end up spending the day in bed or cooped up in the house being depressed or worrying about her.
What about having someone come to your home? A recently graduated early childhood educator or even a teen for 2 hours after school who will take her outside to play or sit and do crafts etc while u go for a long walk, take a bath, run errands in peace etc.
A play group or lessons of some kind might be good too, because you can socialize for that hour with the other moms, or if it is the type that you drop them off and go, you can have half an hour or whatever to go window shop, or take a walk etc.
Hope yoy find the right answer for your family!