Better than expected

My absence from this blog was due in part to being without Internet access for our first month in our new home and in part to being plagued by more eye problems which required weekly visits to the eye doctor for two months.  On a positive note, my absence was also due to plunging head first into getting to know our new neighborhood and settling into our new house.  Our new house has exceeded our expectations.  I’m not talking about the features of the house, although the house itself has been wonderful; instead, I’m referring to the quiet, the friendliness of the neighbors, and the amazing public park that is within walking distance of the house.  Every time we go to the park (which averages around two times each week), we make new friends.  The families at this particular park seem to be more open to making connections than the families in our last neighborhood.  I don’t know what accounts for the difference, but I do know that it’s a splendid feeling to go to the neighborhood pool and be greeted by three different families who are all excited to see us.  Holden is not going to have any shortage of pals in the neighborhood.  Holden has begun sleeping much better since our move (presumably because of the quiet).  He spends a lot of time roaming the yard on my days off from work, in addition to joining me on bike rides along the bike path or going to the park.  We’ve seen deer in the neighborhood three times already!  We sort of ended up in the best place possible, by accident.  I actually didn’t realize that this area would be such a good fit for us.  Now I just need to find a way to be able to stay here (in terms of work).

Speaking of work, I was offered full-time hours at my job to start in September.  This is fantastic news as I had been waiting since 2006 to be paid as a full-time postdoc.  The problem is that I cannot find suitable full-time daycare.  It has been a saga (to put it mildly) to try to make arrangements for Holden’s care.  His current nanny situation ends next week (yikes!)  Here is the arduous journey I have had to endure this summer, while still coming up more or less empty-handed for H’s care:

1)  Spoke to another nanny about in-home daycare.  She was supposedly very interested, but failed to call me back or return my e-mail.  She is off my list.

2)  Met a woman at the local park who is changing her daycare situation because of a move.  Her current provider was looking for another child to take on.  But wait….she feels conflicted about continuing to stay at home, or go back to work.  She never called me.

3)  Answered an ad posted through the university graduate student listserv.  Woman looking to quit her job so she can stay at home with her young daughter and watch TWO additional children (obviously, she hasn’t stayed home for any real period of time, otherwise she would know this is a bit ambitious).  After I answered her ad and we spoke on the phone and were getting ready to meet in person, she did some soul-searching and decided to stay at her job.  Thanks for wasting my time, nitwit!

4)  A woman I met through yoga is having her mom stay home with her son while she returns to work.  I spoke to this woman’s mom and she initially agreed to watch Holden 5 days  a week.  Yes! I finally have my daycare situation resolved.  Not so fast—I get a call a few hours later with the “I don’t know what I was thinking!  I can only do two days a week.”  Turns out, I met this woman today and I really, really liked her (plus, I have some history with her daughter, so there is some trust there).  We are going to do the two days a week with this woman, but what to do about the other 3 days each week?

5)  I am on the waiting list of the university daycare center (good luck with that), and I have been calling another local daycare on a weekly basis to see if they have any slots opening up.  I made a list of about 20 local daycares and went to the State of Vermont Child Services division to see if there were any reported violations at these commercial daycare centers.  Needless to say, I didn’t like what I saw—but there was one daycare center that had a “clean” record and good reviews from parents who send their children there.  Rob and I visited the center today with Holden (no small feat b/c it involved me making additional trips to pick Rob up from work—having one car is sometimes no picnic).  We got to the center and well—-I guess I don’t know what I expected.  I’ve never been to a daycare in my life.  I’ve never had to go to one as a child, I’ve never worked at one, and I’ve never sent my child to one. I was kind of appalled and I actually almost started crying while talking to the daycare center director (and I am totally not prone to crying).  There was no separate sleeping area for the toddlers.  Just mats on the floor in a corner.  There were toys everywhere and food just sitting out.  There were no books.  There was no individualized attention.  The baby area had like 4 or 5 babies with ONE person.  They were all screaming in unison and couldn’t all be calmed in a timely fashion.  The center serves “snacks” that included individually-wrapped containers of pudding, Kraft mac ‘n cheese, Ritz crackers, juice, etc.  One of the “teachers” was a very, very young, rough-around-the-edges looking girl, who had her daughter there at the daycare center.  At one point, she commented that she was down to her last can of formula and wouldn’t be able to get more until she got more food stamps.  While this was going on, the other staff member was trying to calm a baby while having a clearly irate conversation on the phone with parents whose children were “kicked out” of the daycare due to non-payment.  I overheard this conversation and must have made a face because the woman who was talking to us quickly mentioned that there were a few parents who stopped paying for the daycare.  Now, I know that this seems really judgmental, but I would NEVER send Holden there in a million years.  I just think he would be really unhappy there.   It was just a room with a bunch of toys in it, and the staff were there to make sure that they were fed, changed, and safe.  That’s it.  Is that really what daycare is all about?  Because if it is, I DON’T want Holden going.  Huxley was really on to something, unfortunately.

I told Rob that I will continue to look for full-time care, but until I find something that’s up to my specifications, I will gladly sacrifice my career and just stay part-time.  I’m all for Holden being exposed to lots of different people and being understanding of those less fortunate than us.  But damn, I just don’t think Holden can get what he needs there.  There is NO WAY he will just fall asleep in a corner on the floor with all of the screaming that was going on.  I know Holden and I know that he needs very specific conditions in order to go to sleep.  Sleep is really important for a baby’s development, so I actually think that not having a dedicated sleep area is a very big deal.  Man….my heart aches for those babies.  It was hard to resist just picking up one of them and comforting them.  There was so much sadness in that tiny room.  So, I continue to be a part-time scientist with a full-time itinerary. Grrr…..

Other than the daycare situation, things are humming along over here and are going pretty well.  We feel very fortunate that we were able to move and provide a better environment for H.  Holden is a special little guy with so much personality.  I love him so much and want only the best for him.  Which is why I spoiled him rotten today after feeling guilty that we even stepped foot in that terrible daycare center.  I took him to lunch and ordered him steamed carrots and chicken.  We watched a one-man band on Church Street, and Holden stole the show by dancing in the middle of the pedestrian walkway.  I took him to Borders and bought Holden some more books (he really can’t have too many).  Then I took him to Ben & Jerry’s where I treated him to a kid’s size cup of vanilla ice cream, most of which I consumed myself.

I love you Holden.  I will do my best to give you the life you deserve.

August 17th, 2009 9:33 pm

I’m with you Amy. I really feel awful for babies who aren’t in perfect childcare situations, whether from their parents or daycare or just a bad sitter. Babies are so innocent, so helpless. I want to just take them all in.

You are right to follow your instincts. Also, I have had luck finding friends and friends of friends to watch my daughters but none of them could ever hope to make my kids as happy as they are with their mama. The joy and the pain of being a mom.

Also, most often they’re watched by the same person only a few months at a time. I wish for more regularity for them, but I haven’t been that lucky. I take what I can get.

My first sitter was from an ad at the grocery store. I interviewed lots of people and she was great. But then Jillian got older. A baby needs someone to give them all their attention and she did that. A toddler needs new experiences and other kids and she wasn’t going to get that if she stayed with this lady if she continued there. There’s always trade-offs.

You’re right to be this picky. Don’t second guess yourself on that. And when you finally find someone to give it a try, you’ll continue to second guess it until it’s over and you can finally exhale bc nothing bad happened to your baby. I guess that’s how life will always be from now on!

Good luck!

August 18th, 2009 10:42 am

Not only is Holden special, it takes courage and a great deal of compassion to be able to raise your child in the way it is best for him or her. Sacrificing for your children has such rewards later in life. I think I can see my rewards now. And I hope you will see your in the years to come. Love, M

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