I was at a gathering with some other moms and everyone was talking about visiting magnet schools and trying to figure out where they’d enroll their little ones for kindergarten.
And I felt less than. Because I wasn’t planning to “investigate” any of our county’s magnet schools. Or charter schools. With some discussion — but without actually visiting any schools — we have decided to send our son to our neighborhood school. Which, to be fair, is one of the best schools in the county by numerous objective and subjective measures. It’s one of the reasons we chose to move here in the first place. (That and the crown moulding, of course!)
But as I listened to my friends talking about magnets, charters and school choice, suddenly I found myself questioning whether I was a good mother. By “settling” for our neighborhood school, I felt I wasn’t doing my due diligence in terms of his education and that perhaps I was jeopardizing his future.
I don’t want to make it seem like we’re not informed about school choice in our town. My husband spent years as the senior education reporter for the newspaper here, so he knows better than most about how the public, charter and private schools in our area stack up. When we were house hunting last year, the school district was one of the factors where I deferred to him. We confined our search to those neighborhoods in good school districts. And we’ve discussed, in broad strokes, some of the other options available to us. But without visiting that school or any of the others in our area, we’ve always felt that the neighborhood was the right fit for our son and our family.
Am I wrong? Should I be checking out the magnet schools and applying there, just in case? What about the charters and private schools?
Or am I letting misplaced guilt and comparisons cloud my judgment, as mothers (more often than fathers) sometimes do.
Mind you, I was on the periphery of the schools discussion with the other mothers. In fact, I didn’t say a word, just listened as the others talked. No one questioned our decision to send our son to the neighborhood school. No one did anything to put me on the defense. No one, that is, except for me.
Why am I doubting myself? Why do we as mothers do that to ourselves? Why do we let what others say or do make us doubt our parenting choices? Why do we second guess our decisions? Why do we wonder if we’re doing enough, when we’re already doing so much? How can we stop this cycle of guilt? Do men feel this same level of guilt and doubt about the job they’re doing as fathers?