February 24, 2012 was the day my life changed. I became a father to a precious baby girl. As a newly minted parent, I wanted to provide the best possible life for her. My wife was fortunate to have banked enough vacation and sick time to stay home for the first 12 weeks after birth, and I was able to modify my schedule to maximize my time with our daughter during those early formative months. Like many Americans with infants, maternity leave ended, and my wife went back to work earlier than both of us would have liked.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, approximately 61 percent of families are dual-income. As a result, families often place their children in a variety of early learning environments. As my wife and I began discussing the options for child care, we decided our daughter’s earliest experiences should be with family. We were fortunate to have my mom offer to care for our daughter two days a week at an affordable cost and with the peace of mind that she would be well cared for while growing a lasting bond with her grandmother.
As our daughter approached two and a half, we realized that she was at an age where peer-to-peer interactions with children her own age would benefit her growing sense of self. With a spunky toddler and another baby on the way, we began our search for a part-time preschool program rich with opportunities to explore and engage with others. We found a small, play-based community preschool that perfectly met the needs for our family.
Over the last three years I have observed the benefits of choosing that school. Along with building beautiful friendships, our daughter has learned to navigate the social world with a kind heart and well-articulated feelings. It has been a truly amazing experience to watch her grow and develop into a caring, curious, compassionate, and driven young girl. It’s also been special to watch the bond between my mom and daughter continue to flourish as they spend Sundays swimming, cooking, doing art projects, or quilting.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Sir Isaac Newton.
This quote resonates with me, because had it not been for my mom and my daughter’s earliest teachers, she would not have the strong foundation she has today. I firmly believe that her future success in kindergarten (and beyond) has everything to do with the village that helped support my family. So, on this Father’s Day, I want to say thank you. Thank you to the village that helped raise my daughter. Thank you to the same village that now supports my two-and-half-year-old son. And lastly, thank you for supporting my wife and me to be the best parents we can be.
From one dad to another, when your village is strong, your kids are strong.