Monday, January 28, 2008

Mommy Guilt

Tonight I am battling a severe case of mommy guilt and quite possibly the flu (if my aching body, scratchy throat and insane tiredness are any indication). I'm sure I caught the flu from any number of places we have been recently, but the mommy guilt started when I opened my 4 year old's progress report from her Pre-K. Let me preface all of this by saying, I LOVE her teacher and think very highly of her school. The majority of her progress report was about how sweet a child she is, works great with peers, excels in Biblical principals and participates well in discussions (she is my child after all and could hold a conversation with a brick wall.)

However, what jumped out at me was the check-marks in the no column that show she has not "mastered" recognizing numbers, letters, patterns, etc. Immediately I began feeling like I had done her some sort of disservice, that I'm not spending enough time with her working on her letter and number recognition. I began rethinking our daily schedule, how I had to make more time to sit down with workbooks, puzzles, and other various learning activities to "catch her up to speed." Perhaps I should even run out and purchase one of those electronic toys that makes learning fun and noisy.

However, once the kids were in bed and I had a few quiet moments to think while loading the dishes in the dishwasher, I was able to somewhat clearly sort through the mommy guilt. I think what I'm fighting is expecting my kid to be "the best" at everything. It's a natural temptation to want to brag to the other parents that my kid already reads "sight words" at age 4, when in reality, there are very few children who can read that early and sometimes to push a child can cause them to regress. From my background in education, children really aren't ready to read until around the age of 5, boys even later. I recall in my childhood struggling with school in the early years because I started too young- I HATED working with the alphabet, but I did love books.

I know that her pre-K is not expecting her to read novels by the end of the year, just have a good familiarity of the letters and numbers. My daughter is a precious, unique child who excels in other areas. I'm thrilled that she has a wonderful imagination, loves to "read" books to her sister, and can play for hours without a TV or electronic device (ADHD toys as my husband refers to them)- not that those are bad either, all in moderation. It also made me think that perhaps I need to be a little more cautious about how I measure up my child to her peers. So often there is a "one-upmanship" going on in playgroups, that I avoid those things. Comparing my child to others can be a prime contributor to mommy guilt and makes me feel as though I'm a failure. Truth be told, by the grace of God my husband and I've done a pretty good job in fostering her imagination, giving her a love for books, and building her character qualities. Sure I may go out and purchase some flashcards or something else along that line, but I'm thankful for the unique little girl that she is, precocious and brilliant in her own special way.


Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Great post!! I heard somewhere back in the fall (or maybe I read it, who knows!) about a survey done of kindergarten teachers and preschool/kindergarten parents. The parents listed alphabet, numbers, colors, etc. as the most important skills a child going into K needed to know. The teachers listed going to the bathroom alone, listening, staying on task, working well with others, etc. as the more important skills.

This really helped me relax on cramming all that "academic" stuff into their little preschool heads.