I’m riding on the hypocrite train and I’m seated next to a slew of Tiger Moms. Next stop: the poor house. I keep getting carried away, signing my daughter up for all of these activities. When I start to forget what activity occurs on what day and I have to come up with some color-coded, wall calendar to help me remember, I’ll schedule my own intervention. My memory should be enough and if it isn’t, then she’s over-scheduled.
My philosophy: in a few years, she’ll have homework and she won’t have as much time to explore and discover what she really loves to do. Right now, preschool is a three-hour playdate with some learning laced in, without parent participation. The rest of the day, she stays and plays with me. On a few days, she goes to an activity. Other than that, she eats, poops and sleeps.
Right now, I think her activity-preschool-play balance is solid, not too much and not too little. The only problem: it’s forcing us to live paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s making me question my decision to be a SAHM.
First, there’s preschool. We’re on the cusp of the public school system, where our tax dollars will be sufficient to educate our kid. In the eyes of the government, preschool isn’t a necessary social, stepping-stone, so it’s a hefty, out-of-pocket expense. I had to pick the best and, of course, it’s the most expensive. It’s the country club, instead of the cabana club. In hindsight, the cabana club is good enough, but the country club has both cleaning and valet services (yes, her school is very clean and drop-off and pick-up is drive thru, so a nice bonus). Not to mention, she’s learning to read sight words and write in a play-based environment. I won’t tell you how much I pay for all of this because just saying the number makes me break out into a sweat, on the verge of hives, with palpitations faster than another Jolie-Pitt is added to the crew (I swear they are preparing for world domination, or something). Vacation sacrificed.
Then, there is ballet. My daughter started to dance, the day after she walked. Looking back, she was a slightly late crawler, but the rest just flew by. One day, she was barely able to lift her neck. The next day, she was crawling. 24 hours later, she was walking. Another 24 hours later, she was doing the electric slide. So, when she was three, I took her to a local, non-profit, ballet school and signed her up.
This is where, as a mom, I forget the “add-on” expenses: ballet shoes, tights, leotard and skirt. And, because she is growing faster than Jack’s beanstalk, I have to update these every few months. She loves to dance more than anything, so I don’t have the heart to cut this program. Eating out reduced to once a month.
Then, there is piano. As most of you know, my husband can play both the saxophone and piano by ear. I am jealous of this. I just recently learned the difference between a quarter note and a half note. Not to mention, as a family, we gorge on music everyday. Any kind of music we can get our hands on.
I let my daughter go at her own pace. I don’t care if she takes three weeks to learn a song, as long as she has fun learning it. The added benefit here: learning how to practice something everyday, how to be disciplined in achieving a goal. Wine sacrificed, unless it’s two-buck chuck from Trader Joe’s.
Then, there is soccer. The class was fairly cheap, I thought. I signed her up through the local, parks and recreation catalog. After I had already handed over the check, I read the class guidelines. Shin guards were required. We also realized her toes were about to break out of her sneakers, so we would have to update those too. So, we headed to the local, sporting goods store. Let’s just say, we walked out with shin guards, socks, sweats and sneakers. Any money for mommy sacrificed.
If I stay on this train, we’ll have to take out a second mortgage. Pretty soon I’ll have to weave my own clothes. We’ll have to grow our own fruits and vegetables. We’ll have to sacrifice electricity, which means no more winding down in front of the TV. We’ll have to alternate bath days.
Of course, my daughter will still eat organic everything. She’ll still have her activities. She’ll still dress better than I do. I just can’t help myself. I over-love her, if that’s even possible.