Go Your Own Way

I remember when M was an infant and all of our friends were putting their children into swim lessons. So we, of course, enrolled as well. Best decision we made. I remember when M was 2 years old and all of our friends began enrolling their children in school. We considered our options and did the same. Best decision we ever made. I remember when our friends began signing their children up for summer camps and activities. We followed suit and found gymnastics. Best decision we ever made. We didn’t blindly follow our friends and do whatever they did, rather there was a natural parenting current that we were all riding, all floating happily along. Together.

Times are so different now, aren’t they? That natural current has lost its momentum, and lately it seems we are all driving different kinds of boats. In a time where we need each other the most, each of our lives looks so drastically different. As we look toward the future and watch and wait to see what options, if any, our children will have to return to school, it’s so easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed. Whereas before we looked to each other, we must now look inward at our own children, our own families, and our own situations.

I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had worrying about M going back to school. Should she? Shouldn’t she? Should we do virtual learning? Should we do our own thing? The uncertainty and the worry brought me to my knees. However, what grounded me was her little spirit, her needs, and the environment where I believed she would have the most success. That’s what kept me on the straight and narrow as dark and convoluted as it seemed sometimes. What’s challenging is that the path looks different for each one of us because the needs of our children and of our families are so beautifully and wonderfully different. I wasn’t choosing the “right” decision, but rather the “right” decision for M, and I had to own that.

I had to own that because even though I could seek advice, gather resources, and research options at the end of the day it was still me and my husband alone in our thoughts choosing what was right for our child and our family. It may be a different choice from even those closest to us, the ones we love the most, or it may not be. The thing is—it doesn’t matter. It’s right for M and it’s right for us, and that’s the most important thing.

For those of you still deciding, I wish you peace, clarity, and confidence. For those of you supporting someone who is still deciding, I wish you patience and understanding. For those of you who decide something different that those around you, I wish you strength. For all of us, I wish that we may put our children and our families first, that we may look inward instead of being so focused on what everyone else is doing, and finally, that we would love them and love them well. That alone will light the way. For all of us.

Find the joy,


Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.