This is a guest post by Erin Swenson-Klatt. Erin is proud native of Minneapolis, MN who will graduate from Oberlin College this May, where she has organized students around food issues and sometimes works through lunch.
This post is part of the Strong Families Mama’s Day Our Way celebration. You can read more posts in the series on the Strong Families blog. Strong Families is a national initiative led by Forward Together. Our goal is to change the way people think, act and talk about families.
I was lucky enough to grow up with two families. My little brother and I were picked up by one school bus in the mornings around the corner from my house, where we lived with our mom and dad. Another bus dropped me off in the afternoons down the street from M&M Family Child Care Home.
Michael and Marian were our childcare providers after school and during summer break. They fed, taught, challenged, and nurtured me and a whole extended family of kids, from babies up through older elementary school children. M&M threw us birthday parties, took us to swimming lessons, tolerated our art project experiments and theatrical performances, and introduced us to classics like Godzilla. They were not my first child care providers, but I was a kid there for over five years, got my first job there, and go back almost every college break for potlucks, short visits, and to work with the kids. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but M&M’s—with kids of all ages, teen helpers, parents, and Michael and Marian themselves—was more than a village; it was an extended family.
But Michael and Marian are only part of the story. The other part is my mom. My whole life my mom has worked in the world of early childhood education (child care and preschool) policy, and has built a fantastic, fulfilling professional career for herself. She’s been able to travel across the state and the nation, work with all kinds of people, write and develop laws and programs, and help improve the lives of kids across Minnesota. She is smart, caring, and hard working. Even though I tease her about working through her lunch hour and late some nights, I adore her and am immensely proud of her. Through all these years she’s been my cheerleader, my mentor, my copy editor, and my grocery shopping partner, anchoring me to my home and my values as a young progressive leader. (All this is certainly also true of my dad, a teacher and small business owner, but that is, as they say, another story.)
Where would my mother and I both be today without child care providers? If she had stayed home to watch my brother and me over the years, I’m sure we would have had a lot of fun together, but our relationship would be very different. Today I can’t imagine growing up without a working mom as a role model and at the same time I can’t imagine growing up without a vibrant child care experience; I know that I am very lucky to have had both these things. High quality childcare is still out of reach for many kids who most need a safe, educational, and nurturing atmosphere while their parents are at work. We can all educate ourselves about this issue, advocate for more funding for early education and child care access, support better policies to help child care providers do what they do best, and find ways to thank and hold up these (terribly underpaid) people, mostly women, who do such important work for us all. We can also acknowledge that good childcare supports strong families, strong kids, and strong women.
Michael and Marian, all my thanks, for everything. I am who I am today because of you, and I hope you are proud.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- Props to My Pops: A White Man Gets it Right by Guest Blogger June 22, 2013
- Awkward conversations by evil fizz August 5, 2007
- Dreams by Guest Blogger May 18, 2012
- An Either/Or Decision: Forcing Women Into a False Choice by Habladora July 14, 2008
- On Ethical Food by bean August 23, 2007