Daycare Dilemma

I hated maternity leave.

There. I said it.

Again.

It’s not a secret. I have said it before and I’ll say it many more times. Maternity leave sucked. Or rather, I sucked at maternity leave. There was a time when I imagined my July-born baby and I would be all chilling at the neighborhood pool and lunching with my unemployed friends. Yeah, umm, no. (But hindsight is 20/20 so learn from my mistakes.)

Looking back I can’t really say what was so awful. I just didn’t feel maternal. I had no idea how to care for my baby and no confidence I would ever figure it out. When he cried I immediately panicked. Surely this was it. He was broken. He will cry for eternity. He will become an urban legend. Hundreds of years from now people will retell the story of the baby who never stopped crying because his mom was nervous. There is nothing I will ever do to soothe this poor child. I spent a large part of my day sending Bart passive-agressive texts because I was certain he was having a way easier time functioning at work on 2 and half hours of sleep.

Quinn was a good baby. (Still is.) But add that to the list of things I was clueless about. What I did know with 100% certainty was I couldn’t hack being a stay-at-home parent. I have no idea how they do it and am constantly in awe. I counted the days until I could go back to work. My day job was way easier than this.

And then the sleep training kicked in and Quinn and I started to settle into  routine. I gained a bit of confidence. I even met a friend for lunch once. And wouldn’t you know it? Right when I was really finding my groove it was time to return to work.

I remember bursting into tears as we were leaving the house.

“I don’t want to leave him!” I shouted in our driveway. “He should be with me!”

Wiping the tears off my face and blowing my nose, we walked into the daycare we laboriously researched and into the arms of Miss Brenda– Quinn’s teacher. (Miss Brenda has seen her fair share of moms on their first day back at work.) His classroom was spacious and serene. I half expected to see women in white terrycloth bathrobes enjoying a foot soak instead of Mamaroo swings and sensory tables.

I remember Miss Brenda’s smile and how she reached her arms out for Quinn. His little body dressed in the cardigan (with elbow patches!) and bow tie adorned onsie nestled right into the crook of her arm.

Professor Cute reporting for daycare duty!
Professor Cute reporting for daycare duty!

Yeah, okay, I thought. This feels right. This is where he’s meant to be. And I remember having a great first day back at work.

Quinn’s been in daycare since he was three months old. I know it can be a contentious subject but for us, it’s a parenting win. That’s all just a long, roundtable way to let you know the newest installment of my Mom in the Middle column is up. I bet you can’t guess what it’s about.

 

All’s Fair in Love and Parenthood

Bart and I are way too fair.

Those first few months with a newborn when we were both terrified of being left alone with him really scarred us. Sometimes one of us had to out. Like me to get my six-week postpartum check up or Bart to go to work. We felt awful leaving the other to have to care for this…baby. What if he cried? What if he needed something. We all saw Child’s Play. You. Never. Know.

Two years later, Bart and I are constantly policing our “away” time and figuring out ways to repay each other when we vacate the premises. This is not intentional. In fact, we didn’t even notice we were doing it until a friend pointed it out.

“You guys are so good at supporting each other,” she said. “You’re just so fair.”

Support? No. Scarred? Yes.

The thing is, we both really love spending time with Quinn now. He’s a little real, live person. He talks. He has a wicked sense of humor. He likes hanging out at cool places like bounce houses and Starbucks. I assure you he is not a burden. Which is probably why we feel guilty not being with him.

But yet, we still police our time away. And it’s not in a  passive aggressive-I-spend-more-time-with-our-child tug of war deal. We honestly don’t want the other parent to feel like their taking on more.

ME: Okay, so I went grocery shopping alone for what? 39 minutes? Do you want to maybe go for a run after work or something?

BART: Maybe. But then again, you walked him home from daycare on Tuesday and that took you 25 minutes. Technically I only have fourteen minutes.

Saturday mornings are my time to sleep in (which I never do because Quinn always ends up in our bed yelling MASHA BEAR at me while I pretend to sleep) and Sundays are Bart’s mornings to sleep in (which he never does because Quinn always ends up in our bed beating him with the remote control and yelling, PERCY FALL DOWN!) But for at least two hours every weekend morning, one parent removes the child from the household so the other parent can experience that very rare phenomenon: Being alone in your own home. It’s amazing. Even emptying the dishwasher alone is amazing. Despite our best intentions to encourage one another to the contrary, our family unit doesn’t separate that often.

So when we do it’s a big deal. A parent’s night out is a good thing. It’s healthy. It’s normal. It’s needed. But alas, we feel guilty. Case in point: Bart met up with some friends at a bar to watch the Seahawks game. Quinn and I had dinner a friend’s house which was lovely. When we returned, we saw this:

All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.
All hail the Mighty Elmo, patron saint of lost fathers.

That’s Elmo, on a Cars throne, holding a croissant from Bakery Nouveau, sitting high above a gaggle of Thomas and Friends trains.

“Oh cool!” Quinn said, bellying up to the shrine.

Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin' alone time. I can't shake these two nut jobs!
Almighty, Elmo, please grant ME some freakin’ alone time. I can’t shake these two nut jobs!

So yeah, it’s a slippery slope from “co-parenting” to “co-dependancy.” Whatever.

Uh oh! Got to go. The eight minutes I earned today taking care of Quinn while Bart was in the shower are up.

Because 16 Year Olds Can’t Sleep in Cribs, Right?

And this is?
And this is?

Yeah, yeah, I know. That’s a really dumb, obscure picture. But it’s all I could get to capture the moment. Tonight is Quinn’s first night sleeping in a toddler bed. We converted his crib this afternoon after much debate about his readiness. Of course we asked him if he wanted to ditch his crib and sleep in a bed.

“Would you like to have a big boy bed?” we asked.
“No.”

“Really? You wouldn’t?”
“Yes! I would!”

So, okay. We’ll take that into consideration.

This past week he’s been getting up at the crack of dawn (because Daylight Savings is a childless witch) and yelling that he, “wants to come out!” When we finally stagger into his room we find him with at least one leg hanging over the side of his crib. There are only so many pillows I can stockpile on the floor beside his crib before you just bite the bullet.

I was all for the move because unlike toddlers, I love change. I was curious to see what would happen just like I was curious to be alone with newborn Quinn for a full day after my parents returned to NY and Bart went back to work. Curiosity almost killed the cat and by “cat” I mean “my sanity.” Also, the cat. But maybe this will be a better experience. Maybe it will be awful. Isn’t that just the crux of parenthood after all?

This afternoon, once the conversion was complete, Quinn was delighted with the change. He climbed into his new bed on his own and demanded covers and a pillow so he could sleep. Great sign! And then he jumped up, stepped out, walked past us into our room and shouted, “HI MOMMY! HI DADDY!” and then got back into his bed.

Hit repeat. A lot.

“He’s practicing for 3:30 AM,” Bart said.

“We’re the dumbest people alive,” I said.

Good night and good luck.

I’m In the Powder Room!

No need to knock. I want you to come in here with me. In the Powder Room is one of my most favorite sites. I love funny women. I love funny, sometimes inappropriate women. I love funny, sometimes inappropriate women who dish about funny, inappropriate things.

Today my essay, Dear Smug Mom-to-Be is featured on the site!

BAM!

Read me In the Powder Room!

My friends recently had a baby and the new dad scolded me saying I didn’t appropriately warn them about how hard it was going to be. Umm, I beg to differ. If newborns could talk they’d all be suing me for slander. I have made it my mission to tell new parents exactly how shitty babies can be. (Literally, yes, but mostly figuratively.) Maybe I wasn’t harsh enough. Maybe I’m softening in my old age. Maybe my own, dear, awesome-sauce toddler is making me forget how dark those dark days were.

NO!

NEVER FORGET!

And that is exactly why I wrote this essay. So I would NEVER FORGET.

Read it and weep, parents-to-be. You’ve been warned.