A mother ponders taking a job that will reduce her time spent with her child. Will others see the sacredness of her child when she is not there every minute? Are either of them ready for this?
What is keeping me up this late? Decisions, worry, concern.
Here’s the situation. I have been offered a summer job at my Alma Mater, in my “adopted home town.” I jumped at the chance and said yes right away. The situation is everything I want, to spend time in one of my favorite places, to be among my esteemed colleagues, to be around my kind of art scene, and to get out of this small town I call hell.
For my daughter it’s perfect too. She gets to go to a preschool program and partake in art classes, and summer activities, and, GASP…to be with children her age! This is what I’ve been wanting for months!
So, why my hesitation?
Well, it would be me, working eight hours a day, with my child in preschool for at least four of those hours, and then me, working from home for the other four hours. She would be with me, but I would be working, not being with her. Now, here is the real problem, and believe me when I tell you, I’m fully aware that this is entirely my problem, no one else’s — that’s a lot of time for me to be away from my child. I know in the non-Native world, that’s nothing, and most people would stare at me, mouths agape, if I said this to them, because that is their “normal”. But it’s not mine.
I guess I’m spoiled, and odd, because you see, I LIKE spending time with my child. She is the love of my life, the joy of my heart, and honestly, I’ve yet to meet anyone, save Mihigna ki, who is as honest, sweet, smart or as amusing as she is. Seriously, the child needs her own reality show.
I like being around her. Even if we are doing separate things, just knowing we are in the same area makes me happy. I love being able to drop my work to go play in the mud with her, or to go on a nature hike, or just sit and talk about big things that interest my three year old. She has some amazing questions, and observations, and it comes as no surprise, she is an amazing storyteller.
Anyway, since she has been born, I’ve completely enveloped myself in her. To be blessed with such a sweet, sacred wonderful gift, as her,
I do not mind at all. Because of that, I worry about the outside world “tainting” her. She doesn’t live in a protective “bubble” per se, but what constitutes as our “normal” is the outside world’s “abnormal”.
We do things a bit differently here, much in part because of Mihigna Ki’s background and my own, but also because we are a Lakota family. We view her — and have viewed her from her conception — as a whole being. A whole, sacred, intact, being.
As I’ve said in previous posts, we feel it is our jobs to uphold her sacredness. As a result, we don’t call her names, or threaten her to get her to behave to our liking; we give her choices, rather than ultimatums, we let her have a voice and a vote in most everything, unless it has to do with her safety or health.
So when I’m in public and I see the way adults interact with their children, it bothers me a bit. I see them ignoring them, or yelling mean things at them. I heard one mother call her child “stupid”. I see them not validating their children’s needs or desires. At a recent kindergarten concert, I saw a teacher jerk on a student, and another teacher insult the students for their high energy. (These children were five and six year olds!)
So yes, that is my concern. I don’t want someone who is going to care for my child for hours each day to harm her, emotionally, or physically, or to not uphold her sacredness. I want the people who are going to care for my child to completely love, honor and care for her as much as I do. I know putting the word love and teacher in the same sentence may be mutually exclusive; but I’m that serious about it. If you are going to be honored with the care of my child, I need to know 550% that you are going to see and validate her sacredness as much as I do. I know this is my issue, because so many adults did not do that for me, and so many adults harmed me when I was a child.
But here is the upside. Because I have spent so much time with my child, and because she has two parents who love her to the moon and back a thousand times infinity, she is one secure little girl; she has got the world by the horns, and she has no qualms about taking it head on. She knows she has boundaries, she knows NO is a full sentence.
She’s brave and secure and self-assured, and well adjusted. And I know that she, is ready for this — she is going to be the child who runs off to join in the activities and who eats up all the new knowledge they are ready to pour into her sponge of a brain; and it will just be me who is a bit teary eyed. But that is okay. I’m glad for that, I’d rather have a child who is secure, who I may have to reign in every once in awhile, than a child I have to scrape off my leg, or off the floor, because she has a soul wound at such a young age. It’s a great predicament to have, because it means I’m doing my job well.
As a thriving survivor of abuse and assault, that is one of the greatest rewards I can have — to set forth a child who knows without a doubt she is loved and wanted and cherished. I would rather hear, “Mom you were too concerned” rather than, “Mom, you were never there.” I know she’s only three, and my job is far from over, but now, at the end of writing this, I feel better, more settled. Because I know if a problem comes up, she’ll let me know, as she always has.
All photos © Mary Black Bonnet. All Rights Reserved.