Why I Co-Op: An Ode to All of You

by Jackie (Toddlers parent)

I do it for you… well, not really FOR you, how self centered can I really be…I do it because of you.

We moved to Seattle 3 years ago this June from the east coast. We had friends, they had kids, we had jobs (both at our companies for 12 years). We moved. When we moved, Henry was 18 months old. I had never stayed at home with him, going back to work at 16 weeks, we had a nanny for 12 hours a day. So, here I was, new city, no friends, no family, no outside-of-the-home job. Oh, and I was pregnant. It is an interesting time to say the least.

While I was at a park one day, scouring for friends, I spoke to a girl, who had a daughter the same age as Henry. She told me that a lot of people do a preschool program called Co-op. I had never heard of it, but signed up immediately and here we are!

To be fair, I dreaded the second time around co-op parent ed. Was there really anything interesting to learn? I already did this once, how much different could it be the second time. Boy, was I wrong. Maybe it is that Emily is so awesome? (yay). Maybe it is that my children are so different yet so alike and I can’t figure it out. Maybe this time I’m more open and willing to discuss? Whatever it is, parent ed is an eye opening wonderful learning experience. Whether it is learning to deal with parenting stress, to potty training, to laughing at each others pain, it has been… dare I say it… fun.

What would I do without co-op? Let’s be honest, I do it as much for me as I do for Maddie. It is my favorite weekday of the week. I love watching the little people grow, their personalities blossom. I saw Olivia go from crawling, to walking, to stacking blocks this week with a proud smile (on both of our faces). Maddie started calling Kelsey “Other Mommy” and thinks that Teacher Amy is some kind of rock star. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure Lucy is obsessed with me; a feeling that is very much mutual. Cyrus knows every song at circle time and is the best dancer around. I doubt I will ever meet a child with better hair than Bert (ok, maybe Jude). I love the community that we have collectively built. Aside from family, no one knows and loves your child more than their co-op family.

Parenting is this strange, lonely, hectic, chaotic, whirlwind life that we all chose. I find myself lucky to live in a place where building community is an important and integral part of our world. Henry’s best friends are co-op friends; I hope Maddie’s are too. So, to all of you, thank you for opening your hearts, your homes, letting me get to know your kids and getting to know mine. I am not a sappy person, or I never used to be. Maybe that’s what co-op has really given me. Goodbye hard candy shell. Hello open heart.