Since coming into the toddler years with Atlas, I’ve noticed a trending mindset among a lot of my mom friends and its one that’s left me feeling like an outsider. It is this mindset of ‘how much can we get our kids involved in?” Not just what can they be involved in, but how much? And how early can we throw them into all these programs?
Let’s give our kids a French tutor for their 2nd birthday because everyone knows to be successful now you must be bilingual. And let’s put them in gymnastics because exercise is good. And early education is invaluable, so let’s also put them in pre-school 3 days a week. That socialization is vital, you know. And there’s a soccer league that is great for teaching them coordination. Oh, and don’t forget the music class! And ballet registration is opening up! Who cares that Atlas is a boy – let him try it and see if he likes it!
I get the logic behind this mindset. We all want well rounded children. We want to give our kids the best experiences.
But, here’s the thing. I’m a stay at home mom. We live on 1 income. We can’t afford to put Atlas (much less Atlas and Andi) in every single program that comes across our radar. We have to be selective because our resources are limited. We also have to be selective because I lose my freaking mind when our schedule gets packed. I can’t run kids all over town every day. I’m not wired for that.
So, I’m not with the motherhood masses on this one. My kids go to a music class and they go to a Bible class. That’s it. No art class. No theatre class. No Harvard prep class. Atlas only speaks the 1 language right now, and quite frankly he hasn’t even mastered that 1 language yet. We spend a lot of time at home playing with our own toys and a lot of time outside walking our dogs. I was telling my sister all this over the phone one afternoon and I said, “Sometimes I think it would just be better if I went back to work so we could afford to put the kids in all the programs offered around here. I’m so worried they are going to be behind.”
After listening to me ramble, my sister said, “If you enroll the kids in everything that comes your way and you stay busy, you’re going to grow wide roots. But that’s not the goal. You’re trying to grow deep roots right now and you do that at home.”
That statement resonated with my soul, ya’ll! Deep roots. Wow! Such a powerful image, right?
A few days later I was talking with my neighbor, who is a mother of 2 grown children, about the same issue and she said, “People today really believe in quality time over quantity time. It is all about having a nicer vacation, eating at better restaurants and planning more extravagant birthday parties. But that’s not what kids need. Kids need quantity. They need a lot of you.”
I felt like that was the encouragement my mama heart needed to hear.
I sure hope Atlas wants to play t-ball one day & Dave cannot wait to get him involved in a golf program. I hope Andi wants to do ballet and gymnastics. I think all those programs are so so great! But we aren’t in that season yet and I feel like society is trying to rush us into that season. I believe in an effort to make our children well rounded, we may be failing to make them well rooted.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
I’m no expert and who knows how my kids will turn out. We’ve got a long parenting road ahead of us, as we’ve barely crossed the starting line. I’m not saying I’m doing this parenting thing right and I’m not saying you can’t have a perfectly well rounded & well rooted child. That’s obviously the ideal we are all striving for (at least I assume so). And no mother wants to sit at home all day every day with her kids – play dates & activities keep us sane. I’m just suggesting that maybe we’ve become so obsessed with our kid’s calendar that we’ve forgotten about building their character. I think it would be so refreshing to see a shift in conversation among mothers…to have moms ask me things like, “Hey! How are you teaching Atlas to love and respect others? I need some ideas!” Instead of, “Hey, have you signed Atlas up for spanish classes yet? There’s an opening on Tuesdays, right after the trapeze class that you still haven’t signed him up for!