On Wednesday, we had an older mother come in to speak about what it’s like to be in your midlife. She never wanted to get married or have kids, which goes against the social norm in Korea. After her undergraduate degree, she was a school teacher for three years before realizing she didn’t really like kids enough to dedicate her life to that. She went back and got her master’s in business and traveled the world. Her career was her life and she sought to prove others wrong by setting and achieving high career goals that women typically don’t attain. When she saw kids in restaurants, she would get annoyed at them and wonder why their parents didn’t discipline them better. A husband wasn’t a priority because she was so independent already.
Then she met her current husband and decided to finally settle down. She was 35 and he was 43 years old. They have been married for 7 years and she has one five year old son with him. Since settling down, she is more comfortable with the housewife and mother role. She still works and her husband helps to raise their child when he is home. She said that motherhood completely changed her, like most mothers would say. Her personality grew softer, she became more patient and understanding, and stopped putting herself first.
The most interesting part of her talk was that her son goes to a cooperative elementary school/daycare. The parents run the program for the most part minus the one teacher. Mothers regularly volunteer three times a week at school – bonding over their book club, making dolls for the kids, and taking care of the school. The fathers also volunteer at cookouts and fixing things around the school when needed. If the teacher is gone, the school doesn’t shut down and the parents substitute in. This type of school builds strong social bonds between parents since they are always there and with kids since they don’t just drop them off at school and disappear until dinnertime like a typical work life. Some of the parents, including her, still have jobs and aren’t expected to come every day but her family makes an effort to make it.
This way builds a more harmonious community, she says. Parents know each other well enough to trust their kids with each other and to work out conflicts between themselves instead of going through the school. She tried putting her child in normal daycare and was an elementary school teacher herself, but didn’t like the traditional system. This way was also good for her since she was an older mother, to gain parenting tips from the others. It would be really cool if we had these for daycare centers at least in the US since most toddler aged parents are stay-at-home and I’m sure would like the social environment.