A few years ago, when we had just moved to Burlington, D was two years old and at home with me. We had enrolled him in a Montessori toddler school but it didn't work out, so we pulled him out after a month.
For several months we were at home (before D started attending another pre-school two mornings a week), having the time of our lives — exploring the local parks, going to children's activity centres — despite the constant nagging thought at the back of my mind that he 'ought' to have more playdates and playmates.
We had lovely neighbours then — John & Natasha — an elderly Macedonian couple who were kind and great company and their presence was a timely reminder for me that life is best when it's simple.
Once John said to me that it would be good for D to be at daycare with more children around than at home with just me.
I remember how that remark stung because I took it quite personally. All of it felt like a personal failure, me being a stay-at-home mom, D not liking it at the toddler school, D missing me and home too much to enjoy school. I was convinced I was inflicting permanent emotional damage on my child.
Enough time has passed now and I'm able to look back at my past self with more compassion, revisit John's words in the spirit they were delivered (a sharing of advice and guidance rather than rebuke or castigation), and understand that we were all doing the best we could given the circumstances.
John & Natasha sold their home to their son and moved to Macedonia two summers ago. John has since passed away. Their home is now occupied by their friends, J and her family.
J has two granddaughters, one two years old and the other just a few months old. Her son and his family live in another home a short distance away, but every morning he comes over to drop his older daughter at J's home. J spends her entire day caring for her older granddaughter.
Every time they see us, they step out and wave to us and we wave back to them.
Yesterday, D and I were returning from school. J stepped out of her home and greeted us with her granddaughter.
The first thought that crossed my mind was this: shouldn't the child spend more time around other children?!
Would you believe it? I was quite shocked to hear my mind echo the same words and judgement that John had meted out to me all those years ago.
Nothing right or wrong about it. Just an observation.
And the sudden realization that for that split second of judgement, I had completely forgotten my own experience and isolation as a new mom back in the day.
It's funny how we can lament something (being judged) only to turn right back around and do the same thing we claimed to despise (judging others). I'm so human. 😊
I'm only glad that I didn't blurt out my thoughts unnecessarily to J.