Since it turns out I have a parental philosophy.
I sometimes worry that some of the people in my life see me as a bit of a basket case. Not just a hormonal one, I mean. A scary, needy, over-protective, co-dependent mother type of basket case. The sort that Daisy should be protected from. I worry that people look at my decision to spend most of my time with my daughter, and think it’s unhealthy.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that sitting worrying about what these people think for any length of time probably is a bit unhealthy, but that point aside, I don’t think I’m a scary mother. I choose to spend most of my time with my daughter, because, as I mentioned a few days ago, I believe that children need parents. I believe that they need them pretty much 24/7 when they’re little, and that they need them a lot more than society necessarily realises when they’re older, and for rather longer into life, too. Besides, most of the time I like her. I miss her when she’s not there – largely because I’m genetically preprogrammed to want her where I can keep an eye on her. It’s not oppressive and unhealthy, it’s how the species has survived this long.
Compared with lots of other children her age, Daisy doesn’t do much – not much that’s structured, anyway. Frankly, I don’t know how other people fit it all in. There are people who do some sort of toddler group every single day of the week, and sometimes more than one. Maybe those people spend half their lives at work, functioning at a pace of life I can only marvel at, and find it difficult to slow down on the days when they’re at home. Or maybe they have no strategies for keeping their children happy and occupied when they’re in the house. But we just don’t have a need for that. We go to one group a week, and fill the rest of the time with visits to people (sometimes people with children, sometimes people without) and errands ? the pace of life thing means that I wouldn’t normally choose to go anywhere else on the same day as I’ve been to the supermarket, for example. If we’ve no burning urge to leave the house for the sake of getting out, and nowhere in particular to go, why bother?
When we’re at home, we draw, read, play with play dough, watch CBeebies, do jigsaws, and engage in any number of imaginative games using dolls, prams, toys cars, dolls houses, toy kitchens, etc. She is reasonably good at the highly useful skill of playing by herself, but will happily include me if I’m amenable, and play with other children when she comes across them ? to the extent that they are able to play with other children at this age. Two and a half is a bit young for much more than playing alongside other children. Nevertheless, she is sociable, friendly, and coming on just fine, as far as I can see. The point is, she doesn’t seem to need constant exposure to other children, to be able to relate quite happily to other children.
As far as I am concerned, it’s not that I spend no time apart from her. For a start, she’s usually in bed a little after 7.30pm, and the evenings are my own. Kevin and I tend not to go out much, but mostly because we have nowhere in particular we want to go. We certainly don’t feel trapped in the house by Daisy’s existence, and we have a small stock of (usefully free) babysitters to call upon when we need them. We both occasionally go out alone, but not that often because, in a follow up to the Mother Likes To Be With Daughter shocker, is the Wife Enjoys Company of Husband expos?. In addition, Daisy goes out for tea at the house of some friends of ours once a week (and has done since she was a few months old), and every week I have to choose between housework, and playing on my computer, as the best way to take advantage of the opportunity. We both cope fine with being apart, but I happen to believe that she copes so well because it doesn’t happen too often. Her security is largely built on my presence, and the less I was there, the more she would hate my being gone.
I believe that children need parents. That I ended up as a full-time mum was something of a fluke of circumstances, but I can see now that it was so completely the right choice. Daisy needs me to be there. One day she won’t need it so much, but I don’t plan to dictate when that should be. We’ll know.