Straw, Sticks, or Bricks?

Nearly the moment shock wore off that we were expecting our first child, my instant thought was to education. What could I do now, and in the future until school age to not only prepare my child, and future children for education, but give them the best education we can.

I know, odd right? Not too many parents actually think about that the moment the two lines appear on the stick. I did, and I still do. Most start to plan for a baby, getting baby items, checking things off of their needs and wants list. Don’t get me wrong, I had my pregnant hormonal times of I NEED to get these things to get them checked off of our needs/wants list! Every mother goes through it, it’s sort of like a right of passage, so to speak.

Education is big with me. I fully believe that a child’s best chance at life is education. Let me back that up a bit though. Everything starts at home with the parents first and foremost. The parents set the ground work, and the structure. They set the expectations and rules. They start to teach their child at an early age, don’t do this, you can do that, don’t touch this, this is why, etc. We teach our children without even realize we are teaching them! Just wait until they start picking up words and become these little sponges and regurgitate EVERY little thing yous say! Don’t believe me, well you would have LOVED to see my face, when my son lovingly told my in laws that “Mommies and daddies play time is at night after we go night night.” Yep….. Hubby was teasing me about giving him some loving that night, and you betcha, my son heard it, and repeated it, not to mention, he thought it was cute, and appropriate to start saying, “give me some loving.” Yes, innocent, and cute, but if it weren’t for him being so young, could TOTALLY be taken the wrong way.

The ground work you set at home, is the structure they take to school with them. The school you send to them, is what completes the structure. Which piggy are you going to be like? The one that builds the rest of the structure from Hay, Straw or Brick? I don’t know about you, but Hay and Straw fall down, and crumble. Sure they can be re-built, and maybe even chose to use different materials the second, third, fourth, etc time around. However, why  not start them off strong to begin with? Why NOT start with brick? Will it cost more? Um, yes, yes it will. Will it be harder to assemble? Most certainly it will. Will it take more time, absolutely! There lies the problem! Some parents, don’t want to, or say they can’t/don’t have the time to set them up with brick from the beginning. A lifestyle is more important for some.

I agonized over that very thing when we found out we were expecting our oldest son. I cried many times, had many sleepless nights. I hated myself for doing and not doing. I was miserable. Why? I wanted to set them up with brick, but brick takes money (mostly), and yet it doesn’t. I was faced with a decision, to work outside of the home, and let others care for them, while I made enough money to cover day care costs and maybe have some extra? (Certainly not enough for a better education or a private one for that matter.) Or do I stay home, and build that foundation, until they were school aged and I could work at least part time to help pay for that better education, that brick?

Sounds like my decision should have been easy, right? Nope, it wasn’t. I factored in what was best for my child and future children, but I didn’t factor in what was best for ME yet. I’m a highly motivated person, a go getter, I have a great college education, yet thanks to the economy tank in 2008, I’ll never be able to use that degree, I could if I wanted to now, however, I don’t want to put my life in harms way, possibly taking the mother away from my children. I had a great career, and was going somewhere fast, climbing up that ladder. I’m a very independent women! I love my independence, I love my freedom, and I love providing! So for me, leaving the working field, made me feel as if I would be losing a part of me, losing my independence, and losing my say on how to spend money. This was something I did not want to give up. I had a VERY difficult time giving this up, and making my decision final.

Eventually it became clear to me, that for now, I’d leave the work field to build that foundation with my children, and trust God, and ultimately trust my husband, another person to provide for me; when I have been providing for myself since I was 15 years old. It has been a VERY difficult road for me. During which time I have used to go back to school to get into a career I love, and can do while being an involved mommy once my children are school aged.

Leaving the work field was temporarily, not permanent, it was a gateway to something bigger and better, an is enabling me to be that mommy I want to be, the involved mommy, the one that attends PTA meetings, helps with school carnivals, attends meet the teacher nights, brings baked goods to school on their birthdays, attends football games and band performances, etc.

So once I was “okay” with that, and getting more and more content with it, I have been able to refocus my attention on the type of education to provide for my children. There is no doubt about it, and there is no way around it, schools are under performing these days due to budget cut backs, and the lack of funding, in relation to under paid and under qualified/educated teachers.

I start the foundation at home, and schools/teachers they continue the work I do. I want my children to go to a school that shares the same values, the same hard work, the same amount of dedication. That will tell me when one of my boys is being a fool at school, or failing. I don’t agree with this “no child left behind” shenanigans. If my child is failing to get a concept, or subject, I WANT, no, I NEED to know this so I can take appropriate measures to rectify it. In addition to that, a school MUST have the extra circulars like sports, PE, Art, Music, special interest clubs, because that is what makes children well rounded. They are JUST as important in the social and real world as math, reading, writing, history, etc.

Budget cuts, and funding cuts have forced schools to dissolve these programs. They no longer exist in many schools, and the schools that do offer them, they are poorly funded, and poorly guided. We have math teachers who have no interest in swing club basically baby sitting the club for a mere few more cents on their check. When I was in school, we had teachers who had HIGH interest in the clubs, and made every effort to make the clubs shine and be productive, and they were handsomely rewarded. They are not today. Sad, but true. Public schools don’t have the funding. Sadly this is why I will be going back to work once my children are all school aged. I will have to pay a privately funded school to send them to to get all of this. Where they are rigorously encouraged to be better, do better, and accomplish. Where they will have the opportunities and chances to perform in after school activities/programs such as the above mentioned. Where school officials will contact me, to let me know of issues that we can rectify together.

Yes, I’m laying brick for their foundation and their structure, because it wont topple over as easily, the big bad wolf can’t blow it down. Is it going to cost me? Yes, it will likely cost me a fortune in money to send them there, and cost me a great deal of time, to help them during their studies, and activities, however, in the end, worth every drop of time and money when I get to look on three little boys who grew up to be three great independent, well mannered, well rounded respectful men.

I’m not trying to put down public schools, or those who send their children to public schools. I’m not putting down public school teachers. I’m simply stating that in this day and age, due to budget and funding cutbacks, I simply want more of my children’s educations than what they have to offer right now. Until the public school system can fix these issues, I will pay out the nose and do what ever it takes for a better education.

So, straw, sticks, or brick? How is your child’s education stacking up?

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Confessions of a Frazzled Mama…….. Sunday Madness!

I think everyone expects mothers to be Super Moms. Indestructible, faster than a speeding bullet, reliable, never tired, always ready at a moments notice, always abled, Suzy Homemaker, and Betty Crocker. We are expected to kiss every boo boo, make every “pincy bug” disappear, chase away the monsters, be at the beck and call, cook, clean, cook again, clean some more, bring in SOME sort of a supplemental income, have intimacy with our spouses, manage our ministries, finish school, some how fit in time to accomplish our dreams, and at the end of the day fold laundry and put it away until we are blue in the face. We don’t dare let our husbands do the grocery shopping, because our grocery bill’s would shoot up ten fold, and we’d never have enough or it would all be chips and salsa, with hot dogs for food. We manage the delicate balance of good and yummy in our household menu’s, along side keeping the budget as low as possible using coupons and price matching. Ever see a man attempt it? I have, it isn’t pretty. Not unless he has my VERY detailed list can he pull it off, and even then, it’s a shot in the dark, because he forgets to see if the stores brand is a better deal. What about keeping the children entertained? Ever see a daddy holding a hot glue gun making arts and crafts, or water basted oil paints on a canvas for a Daddy gift? Ever see one attempt to bake and decorate cookies? No, that’s all a mommies job.

I whole heartily think that we should be serving as we are called to do, but do you realize how HARD, and TIRING and DRAINING it is to be 6 months pregnant getting a toddler and a preschooler ready for church on a Sunday morning BY YOUR SELF!? No help! Chasing the toddler because he wants to be chased and not get ready, then he kicks, screams, bites, and bangs his head into your chest because you are attempting to put on the GOD AWFUL DREADED shoes, that MUST, I repeat, MUST stay on. Heaven help you if you put the socks on without immediately putting the shoes on, because the socks almost ALWAYS end up off his feet SOMEWHERE in the house, before you can get shoes on him. Then there’s getting Zechy’s diaper bag and Jayden’s go bag ready, filling one with extra diapers, and the other with a change of pants and undies JUST in case he doesn’t make it to the big boy potty; then stealthily sneaking in the sippy cups without them noticing, or you hear the ENDLESS whine that they want it. You know that if you give in, then that means dirtying up another sippy, and another one to keep track of, and fill up. So, you drag your feet back to the cubbard, and drag out two more sippy cups and fill them.

BY the time you get every one dressed, ready to go, and get ready to walk out the door, just to remember that you forgot your keys and have to rush back inside with everyone to get your keys, and back out, and then fight them to get into the car without running off and buckled in, you’re exhausted, so tired, that you seriously contemplate just getting out of the car and going back in to lay down for a nap. However, that thought is brief, because you know that you have about 20 kids at church waiting and depending on you to be there on time to teach them, and that your children have a need to know about God. So you start the car, drive the mile up the road to church, and then one by one, you slowly unload everyone on your own. You somehow juggle your lesson plans and bible in one hand, while holding the bags on your shoulder, then grabbing your toddler by his hand with your free hand, and telling your preschooler to hold your back pocket and hold tight following.

After you finally get the kids inside to your classroom to set, you then have to take them to their classrooms and check them in, just to leave to start checking in the children for you class. After church, you manage to check out the kids, drag yourself, the kids an all of your belongings BACK to the car, load them up, and go home. Your husband was on Worship, or sound, so is still packing up and loading his truck up. You get home first and end up unloading your children and all of your belongings. One has to pee, one is screaming because he wants another sippy and his hungry and ready for a nap; you yourself have to pee because the third one is tap dancing on your bladder. By this point, you literally have NO energy left, and you feel out of breath, and ready to collapse. Some how you you get the one into the bathroom fast enough to potty, while holding the other, you get yourself on the potty, and then take them both to the kitchen to make a quick lunch and get sippy’s. Then it’s bum change, and the herding upstairs to their separate rooms to take a nap. By this time, you are starving because you realized, that although you made breakfast for the kids, you totally forgot to eat yourself, but you’re SO exhausted and winded that you just want to sit down.

Then when you start thinking of just how hungry you are and you slowly pull one leg at a time off of the couch, and work your way to the kitchen, you realize you have to take something out for dinner, because you space Cadetted it earlier. (Yes I make up my own words, lol, I’m delirious at this point…..) Alas your husband comes sweeping in, finally, just to remind you that you have to be at the banquet hall for the church’s Christmas dinner. He wants to know if you are going ahead of time with him, or leaving later with the kids. Oiy! You really DON’T want to be stuck there for an hour and a half with children by yourself, and yet you dread the morning madness of getting them ready to go and loading them up all by yourself again. So you weight out the options, which one is the best of the two evil options……Ultimately you are far too tired to even think about managing the kids on your own for an hour in a half in a strange place, and so you opt to wait until later to start the madness all over by yourself.

On the way there, your phone acts up, so you can’t seem to get directions to get to this banquet hall, you’re late because you didn’t realize that it wasn’t at the church until a half hour before, and didn’t have directions to get there from your husband. Then you use your own inner navigation skills you picked up as a pizza delivery person in your younger years. Only issue was, we now lived in a strange new town, and the road I thought would go through to where we needed to go, somehow dead ends, and can’t get you to your destination. Your phone still is not cooperating, and you nearly break down crying, as you are driving around, and around in circles in Sun City trying to find your way, while one child screams for a sippy cup and another screams because he’s hungry and is CONVINCED we left daddy at home and asking the 20 questions as to why daddy is not coming to eat with us. You can’t reach the sippy cup because it’s in the diaper bag behind your seat. The third child is apparently doing the river dance, again, on your bladder, and you nearly pee yourself, and have to will yourself not to pee.

As if that’s not enough, you finally make it to your destination, nearly 40 mins late. Then you can’t find parking, and have to park pretty close to the back 50, and unload, and lock the car, slowly you waddle yourself up to the door, and try to get inside quickly because now your preschooler has to use the bathroom. You suddenly see your husband heading towards a bathroom and then send your son to see daddy to go with him, and he has a melt down, of course, and wont go to the bathroom with daddy, so you take him with you, get them settled in, and then rush the two of you off to the bathroom as quickly as possible. Just in time too, because I darn near did pee myself. Took every muscle in my body NOT to pee myself.

Your husband is off doing sound and playing worship, so you try your best to hold the fort down at your table, only to be met with severe opposition from your toddler that just wants to run around and DESTROY everything; when I say destroy, I honestly mean, destroy, he is so much worse than his brother ever was, so strong willed, more so than his brother. You manage to get them to eat, not being able to take more than a couple of bites of your food. Then you give in, and just let them run around with the other kids, while you stand up and eat your  now cold food; which I didn’t even get to finish much of, between the constant running off to stop my destroyer. Desert is finally called, you get up with two in tow and your tickets to the desert line, of course they want everything in sight, and I tell them only ONE! That’s all they get is one! Finally you get their deserts on the plates and while your preschooler toddles behind you holding his plate ever so carefully with both hands, you are trying to manage two other plates in one hand, and your toddler is having a melt down because he wants the desert NOW, and doesn’t want to wait until we get back to the table.

When you finally make it back to the table, you try your best to fastly take the cupcake wrapper off, and the plastic toy off the top, but your toddler is having a melt down because he thinks you are apparently trying to eat his desert. Finally you get him to see that it’s ready and push him closer to the table and he begins to happily eat it. By then your preschooler starts to whine because he can’t pull the chair out, so you help pull the chair out, get him up to the table and take the wrapper off of the cupcake so he can eat his. You get about two bites into your brownie, just to have your toddler be done and want to run around and DESTROY again.

You TRY to keep him entertained, sit him in your lap, talk to him, play with him, but he wants to run around and destroy, so he has ANOTHER melt down, kicking, HIGH PITCH screaming, and banging his head into your chest. Daddy is on stage playing for the rest of the group. You feel so embarrassed, but you are so at your wits end, and so ready to get up and leave, and so tired, that you just try your best to smile through the tears that want to run down your face. As if that’s not enough, they both start having melt downs because they are now ready for bed, and there’s tears coming down both of their faces, and you can’t get your husband to stop talking long enough to get over and help you take the kids to the car so you can rush and get them home into bed; and you seriously want to let your tears fall down with theirs. However, you don’t, you just try and keep calm, suddenly a good friend from church with re enforcements and her son a little older than your preschooler come over with more cars to help keep them entertained as daddy wraps up. FINALLY he walks over, try’s to help, and get them out to the car, and FINALLY you get home, and get them undressed, washed up, dressed in pj’s, sippy’s and doggy’s in hand, and make your way up what seems like 30 flights of stairs, and into bed. FINALLY you are able to sit down, or so you thought, your third child, apparently thinks that it’s still party time, and again, starts doing a river dance, and you peel one part of your body at a time off of the couch that you just got comfortable in, just to go pee.

You then think, since it’s still earlyish, you can edit some client pictures and return emails, yeah, not happening tonight. It’s the only time I get uninterrupted time to work!

NORMAL Sunday’s take it out of me, but I’m always able to have some rest so it’s not so bad, today, was a nightmare, and I broke down in tears. Mommies need help, and rest too! We are not always super hero’s that come flying in to save the day, we need help! Mommies are people too! I think daddy’s forget that we are not super human, and that we have our limits. Today was definitely WAY past my limit. Lord I hope that tomorrow is a MUCH calmer day!