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Tasukeai, February 1995
I Gave Form to an Ideal Day Nursery that I Dreamed About
What led me to start operating my own day nursery was the help I received from the Society for Mutual Help in Living [Kurashi no Tasukeai no Kai] when I was expecting my third child.
At that time, we had lived in Hiroshima for only a few months. There were no close relatives living nearby. My husband was at his new job and could not take a leave. We didn't have much money, and we couldn't rely on our parents for help. It seemed that there was no way of getting out of my fix when one day I read about the society in the paper. Hoping against hope, I called the number mentioned in the article.
Soon afterward, a coordinator and a volunteer, a Mrs. Abe, came to visit me at my home. They earnestly listened to my story, and Mrs. Abe readily agreed to take care of our two children, four and two years old, at her home, including taking the children to and from the kindergarten. I was speechless with joy.
Mrs. Abe's hands were full with the four children of her own, so taking in two additional children was not an easy task. I felt really bad about it.
What I was worried about most about our children was their emotional well-being because this was the first time they lived away from home. To my relief, they had a perfectly normal time, playing cheerfully with the four big brothers and sisters. I strongly felt at that time that what's best for children is a "normal" living environment in a private home.
Even after I was discharged from the hospital, Mrs. Abe troubled herself about me in many helpful ways, for which I was truly grateful.
With the birth of a new child, I did some hard thinking about finding something to work for. At first, I thought about getting a job because we could always use a little extra income. One problem was the high cost of day care in Hiroshima City, but my primary concern was the emotional well-being of our children.
I went through a divorce when the two children were little. The last words my children heard from their father was, "Well, I'm off to work." That was the last time they saw their father.
That was why when I asked them if they didn't mind my getting an outside job, their reaction was negative, perhaps because they subconsciously suspected that I would not come home from work.
I myself was hurt by the divorce, but I had not been fully aware that my children had been hurt more than I thought they were. I felt sorry for the children, and tears came into my eyes. I then gave up seeking an outside job.
Nevertheless, I could not rid myself of a desire to find something meaningful to do, something to live for. For half a year, I struggled with the question of what I could do at home while taking care of my children, work that would benefit both my children and many other people. Finally, the idea of running a family nursery flashed in my mind. I then knew that my goal in life was making a living that would bring joy and happiness to other people.
Although I had neither qualifications or experience of a childcare provider, I was experienced in raising a nuclear family. In that experience, I often wished if I had access to certain types of service. I tried to give concrete form to what I thought would have been very helpful to me, and through trial and error I managed to start running an in-home childcare service ten months after the baby was born.
In taking care of the children who are entrusted to me, what is uppermost in my mind is that they spend "normal" and happy time, as though they were in their own homes. I make efforts to provide what the children's families, nursery schools, kindergarten and government programs cannot provide effectively.
I also make "appeals to government agencies and business corporations" by means of newspaper inserts. It is a small campaign on my own, in which I make an appeal for better understanding of the conditions of working women and subsidies for childcare expenses.
Finally, I wish to state that I wouldn't be where I am today if I had not found the society four years ago. I am glad that I found my goal in life and something worth living for. I am truly grateful to the society, and wish its continuing growth. I will continue to do my utmost to bring joy and happiness to many people through my in-home childcare work.