Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surfacing

Now with gratuitous Swee'pea pics.


I have finally begun the search for daycare. Finally, I am pulling myself out of De Nile, letting its water run down me and out of my eyes, allowing me to see clearly what I must do.

I remember when Swee'pea was three months old and the thought of ever leaving him was horrific. If I'd had to make the decision whether to return to work then, I would surely have chosen any financial sacrifices to make it happen. But now, I am ok with going back to work. I'm hoping they'll let me return for three days a week, but I'm still waiting to hear on that. And really, Sugar Daddy's income wouldn't keep us afloat on its own.

But I haven't gotten very far. I've looked on the Early Years Centre website for care providers but haven't actually phoned any. Because I can see already that none of them are perfect. They aren't in the location I want, and I didn't see any mention of organic living (not that we are living organically ourselves, but I'd love it if our daycare does).

Air Time

This morning we had a tiff about me showering. Sugar Daddy was late for work but I really needed a shower. I know if the roles had been reversed, he'd have flipped out if I stood in the way of his shower. So I took my shower because really what does 15 minutes matter? In the shower my neck and shoulder started spasming, and continues now; I'm sure the result of lugging 22 pounds of squirming wriggliness all day long, then fighting to keep myself on the outside few inches of bed, or curling myself in some way around 22 pounds of thrashing, rotating arms, legs and butting head all night. Is it me or is our bed tilted just to tip me out?

I found myself wondering in the shower, how will we cope when I return to work? Swee'pea sleeps until 9 most mornings, and I just don't know how we will get the three of us fed and dressed at an early enough hour for Sugar Daddy and I to work an eight-hour day. And we're already both completely tapped out. This weekend was tense, because both Sugar Daddy and I are feeling overstretched. He doesn't get much him time, though he does get the half-hour bike ride to and from work most days. And I don't get much physical time to myself. I love that I've been writing and making photographs, which I do mostly while Swee'pea sleeps. And that I get out once a week for belly dance. But even the things I do for enjoyment mostly seem to take effort. I don't have much that I do to replenish my energy.

This weekend we both talked about how our heads are spinning with the speed of life. Sugar Daddy wants to do yoga more and have more bubble baths (don't we all?). And still I asked him, where do I fit on that list? Because I miss him. I miss how we used to cuddle while we watched ER (now we may manage to watch while watching Swee'pea and keeping him out of trouble but only just). I miss how I used to wash dishes while he cooked, and we'd talk.

Modelling an alpaca wool sweater and toque from my friend who went to Peru for a few weeks just before Swee'pea was born

In the months since Swee'pea was born, and even before he was born, I have always thought that I would like to be a stay-at-home mom if we could manage it financially. But the other day, as I wrestled with Swee'pea and my frustration trying to change his diaper or his clothes, the thought crossed my mind as my impatience grew, that maybe I'm not cut out for it. Even though I'm not hugely ambitious or career-oriented, maybe it's better for me to be at work. And it made me really sad.

I used to think, as Meredith did on Grey's Anatomy, that if you're going to have a child, why would you want someone else to raise it? My mother-in-law has always been very driven, very career-oriented. Once, years ago, when my brother's wife spoke of how amazing and enriching she found motherhood, more than she could ever have imagined, my mother-in-law replied that she never let Sugar Daddy interfere with her career. Growing up in South Africa where domestic labour is cheap cheap cheap, Sugar Daddy had a nanny, which made it a lot easier for his mother to pursue her career. His nanny was very trusted, and Sugar Daddy loved her like a second mother. When he first told me this, I thought, not for my child[ren].

But now that I'm a mother, my opinion has changed (as it has on so many other things). I believe that no-one can love as fiercely as a mother (well except a father). And if you can find someone to care for your children, who they also love, that is only a good thing.

I'd really like to find a hippie-type, granola-crunching daycare. We are not as granola-crunching as I'd like to be, but I think it would be great for Swee'pea to be in that kind of daycare. But when I googled hippie daycare Guelph, nothing came up. How do you find a hippie daycare? There's a woman in my belly dance class who runs a daycare, and she could be a bit granola-crunching (the fact that she belly dances and her husband has dreads is, I think, a good sign). But she's due to have her second child in May, and I'm worried that that will affect the care she provides. She's planning to hire an ECE student for a month, but that seems too short to me. Am I being unreasonable?

There's also a woman around the corner from us who seems perfect. The gingerbread molding on her house is painted a gradient of turquoises, and I've seen her riding her bike in a skirt (Don't you just love what I associate with hippieness?). But she only cares for kids after age 2. Wah!

At the Santa Claus Parade

Anyways, this morning I called Wee Watch to find out what they're all about. So, slowly, like honey dripping and turtles charging, I am looking for daycare. How did you find your daycare providers? Any tips? And if anyone in Guelph reads this and knows of a hippie-type daycare, please let me know.

8 comments:

Beck said...

Hey, I've been home with my kids for seven years now and I'm certainly not a placid Madonna, finding fullfillment in every little thing I do with them. If you want to work, that's cool - but good mothers come in many different types.
As for the hippy daycare - try googling around for a "Waldorf" daycare.

Mad Hatter said...

First off, could Swee'pea be any cuter? No.

Now for the angst-ridden portion of this comment:

Oh dear Lord, Sin. You make it sound as if there are OPTIONS for childcare in this world. That is simply NOT my reality. I have been on waiting lists for every daycare for miles around out here since I was 6 months pregnant and I will be lucky if I get a spot when Miss M is 2 1/2. The shrotage is that acute. I was offered a spot in one daycare last spring but it was on a busy street and it only had a spot open up after the paper reported they forgot a child outside for over an hour. Needless to say, we declined their offer.

Right now we have two university students who do tag-team sitting for 20 hours a week. I work 18 of those hours. In-home care doesn't come cheap which means that half my take-home mid-career professional salary goes to child care (which I don't begrudge the sitters; they deserve every penny I give them). Frankly, I don't know how minimum wage and working class families manage. Or families with more than one child.

There is not a single day care in my city that will accommodate my daughter's vegetarianism. If I do get a spot before she goes to college, I will have to provide all her food.

It is all a matter for despair.

That said, my daughter LOVES her sitters and they LOVE her. I think my return to work (1/2 time) was actually developmentally good for my daughter; otherwise she would have been stuck with me all the time. That's not to say that I think kids "are stuck" with stay-at-home moms. I do not and they are not. But my daughter was stuck with me. We have no extended family out here (the closest family is a 15 hour drive away), no friends with kids, no strong community supports for SAH moms. It was just me, Miss M, and the ride-on toys at the mall to fill our days. Because we didn't have a broad community of support, Miss M made strange very easily and was, in a way, too dependent on me. Miss M needs those sitters for the 4 hours a day she has them. They are fun and loving and creative in ways different from me. It's like in the film "About A Boy" at the end when the kid says something about no one being an island, and that we all need back-ups. In the absence of grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins, Miss M has two lovely young women who shower her with love, affection, and approval. So far no discipline has been necessary but that day is coming soon, I'll warrant.

I wish you all the best in your efforts to find good child care. I hope that the hippie, granola day care you seek is out there. I hope that Swee'pea enjoys the care giver you do find as much as my daughter enjoys hers.

cinnamon gurl said...

Beck thanks for the tip. I wasn't saying that staying home wouldn't be fulfilling for me; rather that maybe I'm not a good enough caregiver for Swee'pea 24/7... kind of along the lines of what Mad was saying.

And Mad: yeah the waiting lists for daycare centres are ridiculous here too. I haven't even signed up for any. But the mothers I know with babies around the same age as Swee'pea haven't had too much trouble finding a home daycare they're comfortable with. Fingers crossed...

bubandpie said...

The day-care shortage in London doesn't seem as bad as what MH is describing - most people I know have managed to find a spot if they wanted one. I've always gone with home care because it's virtually impossible to find part-time spots in a formal day-care centre, and there's no way I can afford to pay for full-time care on my part-time salary.

I've had two home-care providers, neither of which was running a full-scale home care. In some ways that's great, because my kids have received lots of one-on-one attention, but for Bub it has probably been a bit of a problem because he has had so few opportunities to socialize with peers.

I would say to focus on the provider rather than the situation: if you like and trust the hippie-lady, don't let her pregnancy get in the way of what might turn out to be a really good long-term relationship. And if you don't feel enthusiastic about the personality of your home-care provider, you can probably do better.

Julie Pippert said...

Hmmm Guelph...that's an hour from anywhere anyone I have any contact with...my niece's teacher is London-based but has been out of country. I wish I could help more concretely, but how about ideas? My experience?

Do you think the three day a week thing happen? If so, maybe a co-op. Those are really great.

I've liked homecare for under one and pre-verbal. Or nanny-share.

Waldorf is a good idea. if they won't take one so young, they maybe can refer you to a good place that will. Same goes for Montessori. They should also have a Web site.

Oh can I tell how much the rest of your post resonated with me.

I remembered my---not quite three months---leave coming to an end and same worries, only we had to have childcare booked up before the baby was even born where we lived. Big wait lists!

You get a new schedule going. It's a week or two to adjust and then the new routine is working out.

I suggest starting it a week or two before you actually have to have the new routine actually.

Kids really do change the time and space in a relationship. We have to work hard to do those things that used to just happen. And somedays, you wonder what you have left for such an effort, LOL.

As far as childcare goes...errrr, calling it someone else raising your child is...well...I agree with you: nobody can replace mom and dad. My kids benefit from the wonderful, loving and caring adults outside parents in their lives. As do we.

Oh good luck, really, with this transition.

Great post.

Momish said...

Ok, those photos are just too cute!!!! As for the daycare, best of luck. I know I went through the same thing. No one would take my daughter until three months and I only had six weeks family leave. It was touch and go and I finally found an in come care. Like budandpie said, it really is a great alternative. My daughter is still with her and she is flexible, kind, nurturing, etc.

Really, best of luck and I hope it all works out. I will be reading to see if you find your dream place. I hope so!

Em said...

I went back to full time work when A was 6 months old. He went into daycare. I went back to work part time when G was 18 months old. She went into daycare. I'm now a "sahm" but I have M in daycare two mornings a week so that I can get things done (family can't help on a regular basis).

I've gone from being very nervous about daycare (it was hard to leave my son) to being a strong advocate for it. I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child and if family or community cannot provide that support than you have to look for other alternatives - babysitters, nannies, daycare, preschool etc.

In terms of finding a center, I think you need to look at a number of different places and get a feel for what is available. If possible, try to get personal recommendations. Key things to look for (in my opinion) - low turn over off staff (ie, happy & experienced staff), non-profit childcare (we have community based childcare here and it is non-profit, in NYC we used a non-profit church center), and obviously checking out the center's policies relating to how they run the center (eg, as SP gets older you'd like to know how they deal with toileting or discipline etc.) I think you already have a pretty clear idea of the kind of center you'd like.

Once you've chosen a center, get involved - because the more involved you are the more information you have and that is the best was to keep tabs on what is going on with your child at the center. I am on the board of my daughter's preschool/daycare - which involves monthly meets with the director, staff and other representatives and this has been a fantastic way to get to know the center and to see how it is run, as well as being involved in the decision making process.

sunshine scribe said...

Oh those are the cutest pictures. EVER!

Daycare was such a stressful thing for us. SO tough. Wishing you loads and loads of luck.