Recently we’ve been enacting a mandatory “Kids Day Out” at the day center, the reason being that many of the moms sort of sit around at the day center all week. Their kids are forced to stay with them at all times. Our center is in the basement of a church, and while we love children and want to do all we can for them, Mary’s Place is not a daycare. We’ve been trying to get our moms with small children to take them to (free) daycare provided by DSHS and other government agencies. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes moms don’t want to walk ten minutes to the bus stop, because they’re pushing a stroller or have multiple kids under the age of five. While understandable, it’s not enough of an excuse to not do what’s best for your children.
So we have to exercise a little tough love, like saying that they can’t be at the day center unless they take their children to daycare. Many of the moms are supposed to be using this free daycare as part of their Individual Responsibility Plan set up by DSHS, so that they can look for jobs full time. If DSHS hears that they are not following their IRP, they will cut their benefits.
It’s important that we get moms moving. As part of this mobilization, we have a weekly “Kids Day Out,” where all the moms with children who aren’t in school either get to take part in a planned field trip, or take the day out. The field trip is something fun and usually educational.
Yesterday we sent the families on a tide pooling expedition with mentors from the Seattle Aquarium. We sent them with everything they needed, including bus tickets and lunch/snacks. Apparently they had a blast and the kids came back exhausted and happy (hallelujah).
There were a couple moms who refused to take their children on the field trip because they were indignant about the fact that we were making them take their children out for a day. I try to focus on the families who went and had a memorable, formational experience.
Yesterday I was holding an 8-month-old in my arms, and smelling her head (which smelled like coconuts and love). I was thinking, shouldn’t I want one of these? Shouldn’t I want to be a mom? Why don’t I feel a pressing need to start my own family?
I mother a dozen high energy/attention-craving children part time. I like being able to go back to my childless apartment. I like not having to change stinky diapers. I like having time for me. And if ever I need a reminder, my downstairs neighbor has a 6-year-old, who stomps a lot when he has tantrums. As I sit eating my salad and drinking tea, listening to the rampage occurring the floor below, I say a little prayer of thanks that he’s in that apartment and not this one.