What follows is a letter I recently sent to my son’s childcare centre, in response to the above note I received from them. His last day with them was this week and he moves on next month to the centre his older brother attended, so we are thrilled.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for the wonderful year my son has spent in your care two days per week. You have been very kind to our whole family and he has been comfortable and happy there–we really appreciate your efforts. We especially appreciate the photos and hand out of his year that you sent home yesterday, the DVD and his teacher’s individual updates on via email throughout the year as to what he’d been up to that day.
One issue I would like to bring to your attention is to please ask that in the future look at your policy on lunchbox notes. A few weeks ago, I received a note in my son’s lunchbox berating me for including potato chips that day. Fortunately for me, I had a day where I felt rested and confident in my parenting abilities and laughed it off. In fact, I took a photo of the note and posted it on Facebook, where I jokingly referred to myself as a “bad mom” sending chips to child care.
However, the comments I received (which I am happy to share with you if you are interested), made plain that the note really touched a nerve with people in several parts of the world, which made me consider the note and its ramifications further.
As I said, I feel fortunate that I was able to find humour in the note. However, what if my husband had been away for work that week? What if I also had a new baby at home and had been up all night with him? What if I sorely needed some respite from my active toddler that day by sending him to childcare, and the only thing I could find in my pantry to send him to childcare with was chips? A note like that could have crushed me.
My excuse happens to be that I was simply tired from my regular daily life of three kids and a part time job, hadn’t been shopping and the best I could think of late in the evening, that was nut-free happened to be chips. I realize that was not the first time my child has eaten chips, and I can assure you it won’t be the last, but I do try my best to offer him healthy foods.
Mothers today are judged and analysed for every decision we make, and we should not be worried about impersonal notes from our children’s caregivers pointing out our faults, not for something as trivial as potato chips. The mental health of mothers today concerns me, and our society needs to be careful to support mothers, not judge them.
I completely understand and respect that your aim is for children to receive proper nutrition while they are in your care, and beyond that, in their homes. The best way for you to know you are achieving that aim would be to provide the food yourselves.
However, I realise that would be quite an undertaking. May I suggest that if the families are responsible for providing food each day, that you quietly keep a record of instances where children bring in unhealthy foods in their lunches, and then, if you notice a pattern, approach the parents in a friendly, non-judgemental, but helpful manner to discuss the issue? A person to person interaction would be much better received, in my opinion, than an impersonal, formalised “mum-shaming” note, with the child’s name and offending food filled into blanks.
You could even extend this practice to other important issues including children’s cleanliness each day, fit of their clothes, health, happiness, etc. Food is only one aspect of many contributing factors towards our children’s wellbeing.
Whatever you decide to do, and please feel free to completely disregard my uneducated suggestions, please endeavour to find a process more mum-friendly than mass-produced notes in the lunchboxes following intermittent offences. I would be happy to discuss this further if you would like.
Thank you again for your wonderful care of my son and kindness towards our family.
It’s hard to believe that it’s June; it’s winter and that in about two months we’ll have 3 kids. Reality check coming! During the April school holidays, I became quite apprehensive about the month of May. I kept thinking: teaching 6 kids yoga classes each week, 5 full days of adult yoga teacher training, a freelance writing assignment, doctor’s appointments, kids school events, etc., all while growing larger by the day…….Yikes! But it actually all went surprisingly smoothly.
It made me see that I waste too much time working myself up about the future without any real need. Once I sit down, make my to-do list and get cracking, it usually all gets taken care of. I hope I can remember that lesson and stay calmer and be more present.
April wrapped up smoothly and I hit my 1st anniversary as a kids yoga teacher on May 1st. It was fun to think about all that’s happened in one year. It was right around the time of the earthquakes in Nepal, which really upset me. In one sense, I hope they upset everyone. But in another, I feel I sometimes get too upset at these events. It just boggles my mind about how differently people can live within the one world–that we are so global in some ways and yet there are still such extreme differences in quality of life. For instance, with the terrible flooding that Boulder experienced a couple years ago, people’s lives were pretty well back to normal within a few weeks. Whereas many of the Nepalese affected could be homeless and without access to their former ways of earning income or to schools, for literally YEARS. It’s just not right.
Anyway, to move one, I have been very involved in my boys’ classrooms so far this year, knowing that I won’t have much time to be soon. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad idea—I don’t want it to be too much of a shock to them when I’m busier. It’s bothered me that Drew has only had one field trip in more than two years of school, but they must have received funding or changed the curriculum or something, because this year I have been able to accompany Zach’s class on a walking trip to the local library a few months ago, Drew’s class to see the movie Cinderella last week, and I will get to go with Zach’s class to see the theater production of the Gruffalo next week.
What’s ironic is that I vividly remember taking a group of senior citizens to a basketball game years ago and seeing school kids on a trip. I talked with my coworker friend about how I would NEVER want to help take kids on a school field trip—-too chaotic! How life changes, eh? It’s still too chaotic, but now I see that chaos as the norm. 😉
I’ve also been helping in Zach’s class on Tuesday mornings and Drew’s on Friday afternoons. I helped at a P&C (think PTA) fundraiser selling trinkets to the kids for Mother’s Day gifts and I’ve been attending school events: Last Friday Steve and I both got to go watch Drew perform with the school choir at a local daycare. For Mother’s Day, Zach’s class invited the mothers in for a morning of “pampering.” It was such a precious experience! I remember going through it with Drew and loved it just as much with Zach. The teachers taught the kids ahead of time how to give us foot massages, paint our nails, do our hair, etc. Hilarious! Then they served cupcakes and juice and gave us gifts they’d made. Zach was proud as a peacock and it was lovely to have that time with him.
Today I went to their Sports Day (Field Day). Although it’s not really a full day, like what I remember, but rather just a morning, it was lots of fun to watch them participate in little sports games and running races. They are both competitive and put their hearts into whatever they do and it is great to watch and cheer them on. 🙂
My yoga classes have been going really well. The kids are enjoying my pregnancy! We have been talking about gratitude this term and in one class, I had everyone tell the group about something good that happened that day. I started by saying I’d had a good doctor’s appointment and am glad I’ve had a healthy pregnancy thus far. A 6-year-old girl yelled out “You’re pregnant?!” It was hilarious! Every parent cracked up. The kids ask me about the baby regularly and randomly poke my belly. What’s funny is that kids do as I do, not as I say. So with poses I can no longer do, such as where you lie on your belly, I try to get down on my knees and forearms and explain the rest (they’re familiar poses to them already), but they get down exactly like me! They are just gems.
However, teaching kids has helped me realize my kids are normal. I deal with clothing left behind consistently, need to tell them to put away their toys/food for class, stop them fighting over who gets a sticker first at the end of class, etc. It’s good to know my kids aren’t the only ones that do all that!
Yoga teacher training has been busy, amazing and inspiring as well. It’s been lovely to meet like-minded people who share many of the same values and beliefs and fitness and eating habits that I do. Everyone in the group is so nice and the teachers are wonderful. Each training day absolutely wears me out, to the core, but I love it.
And the baby has been doing well! All of my appointments so far have been smooth. I’ve been feeling great. I just am bone tired by the end of each day and struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I so cherish the fact that I can nap almost every day with both boys in school!
I’ve stopped eating meat completely this past month or so and have considerably cut back on animal products overall. I don’t feel too differently, as I never ate much meat to begin with, but I have noticed an improvement in digestion. I know this is gross, but it’s hard to keep things moving smoothly during pregnancy. However, without meat, they move along just fine!
I’ve also been focusing more and more each day on keeping things more real, not only regarding what we eat, but our house as a whole. Of course, I’ve made my own cleaning products and laundry detergent for years, and have always tried to eat healthy, but with so much more time at home, I just keep changing more and more. I’ve stopped buying processed flour and sugar, switching to coconut sugar and a combination of flours instead. I make our peanut butter and ketchup and just tried Nutella last week.
What’s been really fun is making our own home products—hand soap, lotion, lip balm, deodorant…..I never realized this stuff could be made outside a lab, but most of it is surprisingly easy and feels lovely on the skin. Although I worry that it will all come to a grinding halt soon….
Well, with everything going so well and smoothly, I hate to admit that the only thing bringing me down is homesickness. What else is new, eh? I didn’t get to take my trip for my cousin’s wedding in May. I know it was for the best, but it hit me pretty hard. I really miss having my family nearby during my pregnancy and I was SO looking forward to them seeing my big belly. Many factors played into the decision, but the biggest was that my adorable niece and nephew weren’t able to go, which of course meant my brother and sister-in-law weren’t really able to go, unless for a night or two and it just didn’t make sense to fly all that way and not see them. It made more sense to save that money to do something nice for us as a family here, instead of just spend it on me at the sacrifice of them.
Even when I booked the tickets, it never seemed real. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel ready to be on the other side of the world from my boys just for pleasure, without even my husband….?? But I hate that the last time I saw my nephew he was only 4 months old, and my niece 3 ½, and they’ll be 2 ½ and 5 ½ when I see them again. That sucks. My Mom has also been struggling and I hate not being there for her. Her hip replacement went well, but now her shoulder needs an operation and she’s refusing. The selfish part of me wants her to get the surgery as soon as possible so she’s healthy enough to get on a plane and come see her grandchildren next year. But the reasonable part of me knows that she’s been selfless and giving her entire life and it’s her body; she needs to feel free to decide what’s acceptable to undergo.
The bigger I get the more it hits me how much life will change soon and that it will change so much for us, for the first time, without me having my family by my side to go through it with. My parents were SO involved with my little baby boys. It feels weird to be doing it without them. It’s funny—part of the reason I wanted more children was because we are out here on our own and I wanted there to be more of us, more support for my kids as they grow. But now that I’m having more, I want to go back and be closer to extended family. Sigh.
I’m being strongly encouraged to have a C-section as well, which I’m not thrilled about. The idea of my body being sliced into is not a pleasant one, and trying to recover with no family support and 3 kids to take care of does not excite me either. Of course, I don’t want a kid in the NICU again either…..there’s never an easy answer. I just feel so healthy right now and I intend to stay that way, and have a healthy baby, too! So I guess that’s a wrap for now—-time will tell; I just need to keep being and loving and moving and grooving. J