We are enough for our kids

One Saturday morning I was snuggling with my toddlers on the couch watching cartoons and in rolled the repetitive ABC Mouse commercials that I had come to loathe.

A parent came on the commercial to rave about how this online program got her daughter ready for kindergarten, while her said child happily played on her I-pad in the background.  She went on to say, ‘When she was 2 years old, I started to get serious about her education, she is now one of the top kids in her class!”

I almost threw the remote at the TV in rage. 

Serious about education at 2 YEARS OLD?  Top in her KINDERGARTEN class? 

It is no wonder that in the face of the 2020 pandemic, parents everywhere are losing sleep over what their child will miss this year or if they will fall behind. 

THIS is also why by the time a family has high schoolers and comes to me needing college help (I am a college counselor) they are so far down a “my kid is not good enough” frenzy that I cannot even begin to try and dig them out (I still try my darndest).  

The damage has been done.  The anxiety and stress have taken their toll and even though their high school student has taken every AP course imaginable, is the president of a million clubs, spends hours working on piano lessons….they still ask me the same question:  Will he be good enough for college?  

But really, it’s never been about the kids.  It’s about us.  Our deep seeded fear that WE are not enough for our children. 

It begins as early as infancy, weeks after you birth your bundle of joy. Are you doing enough tummy time? Try to do more, you want to be sure her neck gets strong! You are not doing enough.

He isn’t walking yet?  You should think about getting her into physical therapy. You are not doing enough. 

Wow she knows all of her colors and numbers already? She talks so much! You need to capitalize on that, I bet she would be an early reader if you committed to it.  You are still not doing enough. 

Education is no longer a privilege to be proud of but a weapon of mass destruction. One that is killing our kids, parents & teachers with unrealistic expectations. It has become a tool to get everybody into the status quo rat race.

Russell Brand recently said it perfectly, “Society is collapsing, and people are starting to recognize that the reason they feel like they’re mentally ill is because they are living in a system that’s not designed to suit the human spirit.”

Prioritizing unrealistic educational standards over play and joy in childhood is not good for the human spirit. 8-10 hour work days that still require you to log on or be connected after hours? Crushing to the human spirit. Where has the joy gone? Where has the LIFE gone?

I have long thought that both education and work need a big change in a big way.  Yet, amidst this pandemic, we are still valuing the hustle, we are still pushing to get back in the rat race and taking our mental and physical health down in the process. We have forgotten our basic needs and jumped right to the top of Maslow’s hierarchy. 

Accomplishment is not a basic need. Education is not a basic need. Are they important?  Of course they are.  BUT, health, safety, food, water & LOVE matter more.  Those are what our kids need to thrive before anything else. That is our job as parents, not to make sure they are top in their class.  It is to give them food, shelter, water and love.  Some families are stressed to provide just those things, yet here we are wondering if our 2 year old will learn his ABC’s in time so he can be on the right track for college. 

I am not devaluing education, I work in education for goodness sake. What I am saying is it has gone too far, ask any teacher right now about the pressure they feel. I had my own agonizing decisions to make for my kids this year and I found myself falling down the same trap. Will they be behind?  How can I make sure they are on track?  If I keep them home…am I enough for them?

I was reminded time and time again that of course I am enough for them. I am their mother.  Of course they will be okay, this is but ONE season in the grand scheme of A LIFE.  All I can do right now is my best, and my best isn’t giving them all the opportunities in the world, it is loving them in their home and trying to take care of myself so I have something left to give. And that is more than enough.

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