Sunday, August 29, 2010


I have to interrupt the daycare saga for some very important, Grandma-requested, photos. It seems I have been remiss in posting enough photos to satisfy the weekly quota. My deepest apologies (to my mother as she's the puppet master).

Chicago Air & Water Show 2010:

Yes, son, it was loud. Your father was in heaven.

Goober alert!

Who doesn't love a pair of ill-fitting, neon orange shades?

Friday, post-work, pre-dinner:

Why yes, this IS how city children run through sprinklers.


Almost made it!

Annnnd, PAUSE!

See ya, Mommy!

How was YOUR weekend?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Great Daycare Debacle: Part 2

Where were we? Oh, right. I wasn’t feeling so confident with our decision to put Noah at the in-home daycare. I spent many hours convincing myself this was a great decision and convincing everyone I told about it. My mother was dubious once she heard there would be three infants, two toddlers and one caregiver. Hey, Mom, next time? A little louder, please. Mothers always know. 

Alas, we moved ahead with our decision and the first day of daycare was upon us. Now, what would you expect from your care provider on your first day taking your child to her home? Even more specifically, HER first day being in business? Would you expect that she would be showered and dressed? Would you expect her home to be immaculately clean? Would you expect her to answer the door looking bright-eyed and chipper? Call me crazy because that’s what I expected but it wasn’t what I got. Instead, I was greeted by a sleepy, pajama’d woman with a floor covered in Cheerios and cat hair (warning no. 6). Looking back, now I know why leaving Noah that first day made me want to curl up in a ball. 

Here’s the thing: she seemed to be a really nice person. I truly did trust her to take care of my child. I just happened to overlook the things that should have been bright red warning signs in the name of securing childcare and getting my life sorted out in a quick fashion. The first week went by relatively smoothly. We had talked up going to daycare so Noah was excited every morning. I was getting great reports each evening when I went to pick him up: he was napping well, eating well, and having a fun time playing with her little one. There were walks to see the trains go by, and park visits, and art projects. By the end of the first week I was feeling better about our decision...Noah seemed happy, therefore I was happy.

How soon things changed. The second week started off well but by the end there were tears and they were all mine. You see, I was starting to get reports during the day (by text message) that Noah was having some behavioral issues. Reports that ended in “we need to talk when you get here this afternoon.” I don’t know about you but being on the receiving end of those messages was like a punch in the guts. What was happening to my mellow, easy-going baby? Who was this toddler with “behavioral issues”? Of course we were having our share of not-quite-two year old behavior--shrieking, acting out, tantrums, etc. All actions I considered perfectly normal for his age and development. Then why were these actions worthy of “discussions” every afternoon? Why wasn’t she handling it? In my opinion, that’s part of the job as a caregiver: you handle the issues.

Then Noah started to hit. And then he bit our caregiver. Twice. My heart began to race on the train ride to pick him up, never knowing what kind of report I was going to get at the end of the day. Some days the text messages would set me up for disappointment in Noah’s behavior. Other days she would wait until I stepped into her home and unleash the day’s events on me. She was never cruel or heartless when talking with me about Noah but something started to change over the course of the next couple of weeks. I began to hear more negative reports and less positive ones (warning no. 7...I’m sure you’re now wondering why the hell I wasn’t catching on. Hindsight is always 20/20, is it not?). We exchanged emails and had conversations about how we could all help improve his behavior and yet each day was getting worse. Noah was acting out more and more and her attitude towards him continued to worsen.

I hate to admit this but MY attitude towards my son was worsening as well. After a long day of work, of commuting on a crowded train, I would receive an endless monologue of Noah’s transgressions from that day: hitting, ramming himself into walls, throwing wooden blocks, acting aggressively towards the baby, not listening, refusing to obey in time-outs, interrupting naps, so on and so forth. My reserves were drained by 5 pm so hearing all this just made me mad, mad at Noah. That was so wrong of me. I know that now. But in those moments, I just wanted to scream “Mommy had a hard day too! Can’t you just listen and make this all easier???” Instead, I called friends, some of you. I called my mother. Tim and I spent hours talking about it at night after Noah was snuggled in bed. I’m pretty sure I was the only one who thought the problem was with Noah and not with our caregiver. I wanted to believe that the place I had chosen to send my baby, my darling son, was the right place for him. Sadly, that was so far from the truth.

To be continued...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Great Daycare Debacle: Part 1 (of who knows how many)

Noah started at his second new daycare on August 2nd. That’s two daycares in three months. This is a lesson in listening to your instincts, in following your gut, in paying attention to your “mama” radar. It’s true...when you give birth you also grow an antenna on your head that is on full-alert mode 24/7. It flashes green or red depending on the circumstances and is a constant buzz in your ear. I didn’t listen to that buzz and I wish I had.

I got my job back on May 9th with a start date of June 7th. We had one month to figure out childcare for Noah. One month in a city where daycare wait lists are two years long, decent nannies are hard to find, and lord help you if you don’t have Grandma living nearby to come watch your kids. Nothing like a little fire under your ass, am I right? But let’s back up a week, shall we? Before I went to my meeting with my former employer I started looking into childcare. I knew I would be working SOMEWHERE, I just didn’t know it would happen so fast. I found our first daycare provider on Craigslist. I know some people think Craigslist is populated by serial killers but I have had great luck with it as a resource. Why not give it a shot for childcare too?

Her ad was well-written and linked to the well-designed website she had built for her business. She was a young, seemingly energetic woman who was just starting out in the in-home daycare business (warning no. 1). She had a background in elementary education and art. She had a young, infant son who looked cute and well-cared for. Her home was a mile from our house and a mile from the train I would need to take to work. She was taking two infants and two toddlers in addition to her son. She had one toddler spot left. This is me thinking “Score!”. I called right away and set up an appointment for the following afternoon, May 8th.

I walked into her townhome and right away noticed that it wasn’t in the best shape (warning no. 2). She had told me over the phone that it was a rental but had permission from her landlord to run her daycare out of the space. Perhaps I am too forgiving because then she told me her townhome was for sale and they may need to relocate come March. I forged on. She took me to the dedicated play space set up for the looked cute and well-appointed with toys and activities, if a little on the small side for a couple active toddlers and three babies. She was sweet and reminded me of one of my good friends. On a personality level, we clicked pretty quickly and fell into an easy conversation. Her rates were affordable and she would be feeding the kids two meals and all snacks. She said there was a deposit if we wanted the spot and warned that she had a couple more appointments set up with parents for the toddler spot so I should let her know right away if we wanted it. She wasn’t taking kids until July 1st at the earliest because she hadn’t gotten her DCFS license yet (warning no. 3). I told her I had an interview the next day and would let her know.

I went home and told Tim that I liked it, it would be fine (warning no. 4), we should secure the spot. We decided to wait until after my meeting with my former employer before deciding what to do. The next day I went to my meeting and got my job back with a start date one month away. And then I went home and panicked. I knew we would never find anything we could afford in such a short period of time and that we should take the in-home spot. But I didn’t feel 100% confident that the in-home was the right place for Noah (warning no. 5). To be honest, I didn’t know what it was, I couldn’t identify the feeling I was experiencing. I chalked it up to being terrified about someone else taking care of Noah in my absence and needing to adjust to the idea of working again. In hindsight, it wasn’t going back to work or the fear of change that was really nagging at me.

I called her the following Monday and asked to drop off the deposit and contract. We secured our spot at the in-home daycare with a start date of June 21st. My first day of work was June 7th so my sister took one for the team and stayed with us to help take care of Noah for those two weeks. We love her for it. I was waiting for the wave of relief to wash over me. I got my old job back in a matter of a week, we found a daycare solution for Noah that seemed perfect (on paper), and things should have been falling into place. That wave of relief never came.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Judgment is not the best form of flattery

(Here’s some salt.  Take a grain of it while you read.)

I hate the game.  You know the game.  The Mommy Game we all play where one Mommy is a Good Mommy and the other a Bad Mommy. Good Mommies have only wooden toys handmade in the mountains of Appalachia and purchased at the independent toy shop down the street.  Bad Mommies buy their mostly plastic, battery powered toys at the local Mega Store.  Good Mommies serve only organic, locally-grown, hormone-free, pesticide-free, cage-free, free-range, grass-fed foods to their whole families while Bad Mommies do their best but don’t get worked up if the local market is out of organic milk.  Good Mommies have all their preschool applications completed months before they’re due. Bad Mommies didn’t know they were a month behind. Good Mommies sign their kids up for a wide-range of classes so their kids can find their “passion”.  Bad Mommies miss the sign-up deadline and just say “we’ll try for next session”.  Good Mommies stay home and raise their children.  Bad Mommies go to work and hire someone else to take care of their kids. (Here is where you need that grain of salt.)

It’s a terrible game to play, the Mommy Game.  No one wins.  The self-declared Good Mommies sit smugly atop their gilded thrones while the Bad Mommies have no idea they’re being judged from above.  At what point does the Game end?  When do the Good Mommies and the Bad Mommies start to play nicely together?  How do we move past the judgments?  Aren’t we all just trying to do the best we can with what we have?  

Everyday as a parent, as a Mommy, is a struggle.  So why do we always make that individual struggle into a group competition with no clear winner?  I’m ready to step up and say “You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and let’s just throw the kids in the sandbox together”.  There is no need to “one up” each other when what we really need is to support one another in all of our incarnations.  We’re all Good Mommies, at least in the eyes of our children.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A little about me...feel free to skim

It’s been suggested by those who have gone before me, aka BlogHer attendees from years past, that I write a few interesting tidbits about my glowing personality so anyone who comes here after getting one of my business blog cards (thank you, husband, for mocking me) can see what I’m all about.  But then I laughed and laughed because in all reality I am not that interesting and just really good at pretending.

But, in the interest of being a team player, here you go:
  • I’m short and feel frumpy in flats but will most likely be wearing them because I feel silly in heels outside of the office.  Oh and my fabulous wedges broke a strap the other day and that rightfully pissed me off.
  • I used to be painfully shy. Then I went to college, joined a sorority (In The Bond, bitches) and got myself elected president. I am kind of really proud of that accomplishment even if all I did was act important and save us from social probation on more than one occasion.
  • As if you didn’t know, I am the mother to the world’s smartest two year old (proven) and the wife to a husband who thinks he can learn all he needs to know in life from the Discovery and History channels. Those addictions are why we can’t get rid of cable, not my love affair with Bravo.
  • I love my dog and hate my cat. There. I said it. I have become a cat discriminator.
  • I think wine on the back deck in the summer with friends and the kids running in circles is the best happy hour in the world.
  • I love lipsticks/glosses and forget everyday to reapply. To those of you who remember, I am supremely jealous of your shiny lips.
  • I live in a 130 year OLD OLD OLD house and bought it because of it’s “original! hardwood! floors! and! beautiful! white! trim!” and now I wish I lived in a brand new house. Squeaky floors lose their charm after the 100th time the baby wakes up when you walk down the hallway.
  • On the surface, I pretend I am a “just in case” kind of girl and I usually have a little cosmetics bag with basic necessities in my diaper bag. In reality, what I usually need is never in that little bag but the other moms always have it “just in case”. They drive me crazy.
  • I constantly feel like I am not “old enough” to be someone’s mom. I look at the other moms at daycare pick up and think “I bet they have it together and know what’s for dinner.”
  • Lastly, I get nervous meeting new people and will either be really outgoing to the point of scaring you or so painfully shy you’ll think I have never been allowed in public before. Hand me a cocktail and I’ll be ok.
There you have it, folks. I hope you like me if you meet me and if you already know me, feel free to tell everyone how fabulous I am. There may be a treat in store for you.