Daily Care

1 Apr

I make plans for daycare. We wander over, we check it out. The daughter of a friend, a little sprite of a girl I’ve known since she was  days old, sprints toward me and hugs me tightly. She used to be afraid, anxious and quiet. She grins up at me as she’s wrapped around my butt, and the smile pulls at her face. I look to the woman who runs the center and she smiles softly, tells me “she’s one of our favorites around here” and I can tell she really means it.

I’ve always been slightly terrified of child care, worried that children will either shrivel up into small tiny Watchers or become engulfed in the who’s it/what’s it of any social group, tethered by stuff and shoes and the lack of it. I’ve stared at it, wondering when parents got the chance to know their children. Is it possible when you really only see them on the weekend, or for a few hours here and there through the week? Do they carry your rules and morals with them?

Do they carry your voice?

But here we are. We walked through the back field, Vivian marvelling at the diving boards, Rosalyn gasping at the jungle gym, their mother quietly noting the older well kept neighbourhood. We circled the grey-brown building, yanked at the heavy door.

They have bingo on Monday’s. The old caretaker, gentle and joking, immediately reminded us all of my father. Suddenly, daycare felt more like home than we expected.

***

My children have never known institutional care. They are in school, and at 6 and 7.5, have only ever had family or friends to care for them. For the past few years, my father has filled this role, and frankly, it’s not working.

Grandpas and rules? They don’t mix. Dinner is not Lucky Charms. School clothes are not pajamas. Granted, these aren’t things that are going to scar a child for life, but they aren’t my expectation for their rearing. But how do I demand, whn I am never there? How to I enforce when I cannot be there to do so?

And to be honest, I want my house back. I want a silent building when everyone is away, I want no humming, I want the right to leave my fucking dishes on the counter if I damn well please. I pay the mortgage. I keep the heat on. But finding your balance when the live in help that’s saving you hundreds a month is your father?

Fucking hell it sucks. It’s like high school but with even more confusion, and damn it I’m kinda glad to see him go and know that I’ll have a few hours a day at home, between shifts, where NO ONE will be humming, singing, dropping things, smoking or otherwise just “BE THERE”

My children get outings to museums and water parks. I get the seemingly forbidden knowledge of a quiet house I can clean up in peace while listening to Made out of Babies. Loudly, with no complaints or whining.

So sure, I’ll be broke. Sure, I will rarely see my kids. But I will have at least some of the silence I have been so sorely craving these past few months.

***

I’ve never done care, and so I ask-what should I be ready for? Tantrums? Crying? Being thought “boring” because I don’t do the fun things they do there? Extra acting out because they don’t see me? We’re getting to the age where Mom isn’t cool, but we aren’t quite there. Vivian teeters on the brink of it, scared and looking back, but ready. Ros would crawl back IN the womb if possible.

So I’m nervous for them. I’ve been so lucky to do this with only friends and family. But I think it’s time.

 

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6 Responses to “Daily Care”

  1. hodgepodge April 2, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    I can only tell you how it goes from the other side of the equation – the kids I look after love the break from their parents, too.

    I’m so glad you’re able to do this. I think you’ll see a big difference in yourself and the kiddos, too.

  2. Kate April 2, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    My kids are younger, but I can tell you that even though I don’t see them during work hours, they are undoubtedly my kids, formed by my values and responsive to my parenting. And I myself was raised by a mother who worked long hours while we were in school and in after-school programs and I never felt slighted or removed from her influence.

    Some of us, myself included, are not geared toward spending every moment with our kids. I value my role as a mother beyond anything else, but would lose my mind or become an alcoholic if I never had a break from it.

  3. Marcy April 2, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    It sounds lovely and peaceful. May the transition be smooth, and whatever transitional bumps occur be obvious and manageable.

  4. Ally April 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    No wonder you need a break! When my husband was working crazy, non-family friendly hours and my son was small I’d call off work sometimes just to have some peace and quiet while my son was at daycare. I hope this gives you the break you need.

  5. Juli April 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    I am at a similar place. Newly separated solo mum, looking to go back to work, after six years as a SAHM. Six has never been looked after by anyone other than friends and family. I hope that I can find a care option like this. xx

  6. kate April 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    I remember worrying about my kid being raised by someone else, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. My son had easy transitions to new care situations (except for once when I didn’t do a good job preparing him). We talked about what to expect, we visited lots, both with and without me. Suspect you don’t necessarily need to do that with older kids, but I don’t know. I’m realizing there are A LOT of benefits to “institutional care” many you’re realizing. They’ll be fine.

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