Schmoo. A fabulous animal, ready to fulfill man’s wants, 1948, invented by U.S. cartoonist Al Capp (Alfred Caplin, 1909-1979).
I don’t know how many of you are still going to speak to me after reading this article, but I think, have always thought that mothers should stay home until their children are at least five years old and off to school. I can’t in good conscience say or even believe that we should be like the generation before us and dedicate ourselves to being stay at home mums till our children move out. By that time we’d be too far behind and too old to resume our previous life. These are different times and my beliefs are most likely considered old fashioned, but nevertheless (and I’m happy for you to argue it out with me) they are my beliefs and I think it is possible to find a happy medium. I will always remember how wonderful it was to sit at the hairdresser’s and be pampered and spoken to, as one adult to another. Both my boys had started school and I was ready and raring to re-join the adult world.
That was the beginning of liberating times for women, so men hadn’t quite caught up, but things have changed since then. Fathers are equally capable these days of caring for their children. A dad’s working day is not over once he arrives home. If the fathers that I know are any example, dads are much more proactive in the kitchen and in helping to raise and care for their children. So if the mother’s earning power is greater then it makes sense that she work and he stay home. But somebody needs to be there.
The changes are faster and more dramatic in the first five years of a child’s life than at any other time. Children potty train, they learn to walk in the first couple of years and despite not having much language they are listening to and absorbing what’s going on in their little world, so that when they are ready to talk it seems like magic. Long before you’re telling them what to do and what not to do, they’ve already picked it up by your example.
Children learn about right and wrong from us. Somebody’s got to be home to hand out milk and biscuits and answer their questions. If not, it will be the day care centres that raise our children.
I’m not against day care centres. In small doses, say one or two days a week, they’re fantastic. It gives stay at home mums a chance at a break and some ‘me’ time and it expands a child’s world. Children socialise and learn about the sameness and differences of their peers and to respect them. They learn about discipline and consideration and they prepare for the world of kindergarten and school. It’s a chance for them to add to and enrich their perspective, but the important part is that no matter what the world teaches them they have a solid foundation to lean on.
Every expert will tell you that it’s the first few years are important and the influence most long lasting. Procreating might be a natural imperative, but we’re one up on or should be, on the rest of the animal kingdom. We know that vital as they are, our duty of care should include more than just loving them, feeding our children and keeping them clean.
There are two reasons cited when people talk about going back to work in those first vital years. One is that women have just as much right to a career as men do, and the second is that one wage isn’t enough to support the family. Both are valid reasons. I really can’t argue it; I not only don’t have the answer, but don’t think it’s up to me to provide it. We’ve been constantly told the reason why both parents work; it’s now the responsibility of parents to prepare for parenthood and find a way to make it possible to give themselves to their children in those first few vital years.