working 8:30 to 5, so shut it.

As a working mother, I field this question often: “Who watches Nathan while you’re at work?”

What? You mean, I have to have an actual person to care for my child? What about the wonderful people on Sesame Street! Or the people in those Teletubby costumes? Do they count?!?

Like any other pleasantry, it’s meant to illicit a positive response. No one wants to hear how it really is, how exhausting it has been to find reliable and affordable childcare. They want me to empty warm Hallmark Channel tales into the tight whorls of their ears. Even if I said, “Well, sometimes I drop him off at the taco truck on the corner,” they’d say, “Oh that’s great. He’ll be able to order burritos in Spanish! HOLLA! I mean, HOLA!”

Because I had not planned on returning to work as soon as I did, I didn’t make the deadline for any of the daycares in my neighborhood or around my work, or in the greater Seattle area for that matter. The daycare near my work said I’d be on their waiting list for FIVE YEARS. Another daycare said they could take Nathan, but they’d charge $85 A DAY.

I knew I wanted to work, but I cringed at the idea of signing a large part of my paycheck over to my child’s caregiver. Why does it have to be so expensive? At the fancy daycare, where they served organic food and sang songs in French, I wanted to cut a deal, maybe bring out some preservative-laden foods and sing songs in English (or no songs at all! He’ll be on the no-song plan!) for a cheaper rate.

It was sheer luck that my neighbor at the time was staying at home and offered to take care of Nathan. She had a daughter about a year older than Nathan who ended up falling in love with my little boy. My neighbor told me that every morning she would ask, “Where’s Ne Ne?” And that “Ne Ne” was the only name she would ever say. Then the fit started to hit the shan, if you know what I mean.

She started having financial problems and wanted an advance. And then another one. She and her husband were fighting.

His last day there was the day that he came home with a forehead bump so big that I swore he had brain damage. It was somewhere between goose egg and conjoined twin. I was in tears and phoned the pediatrician on call who asked me what my son was doing. “He’s singing right now. And dancing.”

So there was no reason to bring a laughing child into the ER because all children will look like that scene in Alien where the alien busts out of that guy’s chest only, it’s out of an enormous head protrusion. But I couldn’t bring him back there.

My mother’s been watching him this summer, but it’s been taxing on her body to lift up my hulking child. Especially when she’s also watching my nephew Alejandro, who can be lifted with one hand. And who never bodyslams people.

We finally found a daycare run by a nice woman who lives ON THIS STREET! No more 80-mile commutes! And though we really want Nathan to be in the daycare at Mike’s work, we won’t know if they have room until the end of this month. So another change, another uneasy answer for those wanting to know where I drop off my child.

But what I want is that feeling I had at my neighbor’s during the first months. When that sweet little girl would extend her arms and hug Nathan and when I shut the door, I could hear the two of them laughing behind me. I’d pay anything for that.

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  1. Type (little) a says:

    The whole daycare situation is NUTS. I’m lucky that she’s in a good school in sight of my office. The biggest downside (besides being away from her 40 hrs a week) is the price. Now that she’s 3 and in “preschool” it’s just a tad over $1000 a month.

    I feel for you.

  2. Frigging childcare. That “who watches your kid while you’re at work” question bugs me, even though I know it’s just conversation. I mean, would you ask a GUY that question? It seems to imply the additional comment SINCE IT’S OBVIOUSLY NOT *YOU*.

    AD’s daycare hovers around $1000 a month too. BAH. I’m trading her in for a vacation home.

  3. Oh, now I want that for him, too! Is there any way to go back?

  4. That’s hard. I wish that there WAS a perfect daycare situation for him right next door. That would be great.
    Going to go hug my baby now…

  5. It truly sucks that there is nowhere near enough good, affordable, available child care out there. Just another example of out-of-whack priorities.

    I hope the new place(s) work out well. Nathan seems like a superhappy boy so something is working!

  6. thecandyqueen says:

    Alejandro? Awesome! I think they have a quesadilla named after him at Easy Street!

  7. I can’t imagine how stressful that must be. I hope you find the best solution for all of you.

  8. ROFL at the “no song plan”. And yeah, that question drives me crazy, too.

  9. Butrfly4404 says:

    When I first got back with TM and we decided to make a go at a *real* relationship, all he had to take care of the kids was their mom. She was usually late – if she showed up at all (except, of course, the days I slept there – then she was early). She didn’t help NB with school work, she let random people in his house, she got cpa called. But he couldn’t afford ANY kind of daycare (he could barely afford his apt!). Our state offers Child Care Assistance – but they wouldn’t give it to him. “Welfare is for poor people” they told him. “What about people who’ve worked for nearly ten years paying taxes and NOW need some fking help?” Nope.

    So, anyway, she watched them for a while until I convinced him to leave his ghetto ass place and move into my empty three bedroom house (literally empty – I hardly even went there). Then we got his crackhead little sister to do daycare. Until we found out that she was letting his ex in my house while we were gone – or she would just sleep (off her high). It was so bad, we didn’t know what else to do…we don’t have many people we trust around us.

    Finally, and I dont’ know why it changed, they let him on CCA. That was an absolute GODSEND. We got to put them in a really good center. The center was just so great – everything about them. They really helped the kids develop, too, and not just by forcing them to figure out how to feed themselves like their auntie.

    When we moved 45 minutes north of there, we found out the daycares in this county all charged more than what the co-pay is supposed to be and we couldn’t afford it. I interviewed like three at-home day care ladies and they all creeped me out for one reason or another. So we commuted with the kids and kept them in school in our old town. Then right before school started last year, my best friend from high school – who lives just a few blocks away – had a baby and decided she wanted to open her own daycare rather than go back to the school-based one she was working for. YAY FOR US!! That has been the best situation we could have ever asked for. Her daughter LOVES the kids. I get really worried that NB is going to “mess up” our thing with her though. They’ve broken some of her stuff and they fought CONSTANTLY with another kid she had over the summer. Now, just this morning, she called because parents at the bus stop complained NB was kicking their little kid. I’m just REALLY scared that she is going to get sick of it and tell us to find a new place. I DON’T EVER want to look for another daycare. Trying to pick the person that is going to spend all that time with your kids! That’s like interviewing for a part-time parent or something.

    I just want it to last through next summer. Then when school starts up again, NB should be old enough to get himself in the house and stay there until we get home from work. (That will work out well, too, because once we get married next Sept, I become legally financially responsible for the kids and we won’t qualify for CCA.

    So…um. Yeah. I can relate.

    I really hope this one works out for you!! (Even if it’s only for a little bit.)

  10. hello insomnia says:

    type (little) a: it’s grating and expensive! I know what I’d love to do with an extra $12K.

    tessie: no one ever asks my husband that question and it’s sooo frustrating. why only me???

    swistle: I don’t feel comfortable with her as a caregiver. She’s a great mom, but after that incident, that’s it for me.

    beck: thanks.

    mayberry: I think Nathan’s good temperament is an indicator. I’m hoping for the best.

    candyqueen: i have to try that.

    crystal: thanks, I need all the positive vibes.

    butrfly: I love what you said about interviewing for a part-time parent, because that’s what it really is. Someone who will love my son and care for him like I would. Thanks thanks thanks for such a great response.

  11. “No-song plan” had me cracking up. But by the end of your post, I was weepy. It’s tough. I know. I’m working nights now because I can’t afford to put both tots in day care. It’s laughably ridiculous, except I’m not laughing.

    I hope you find a good solution … I know how tough they are to come by.

  12. One of my best friends had the same reaction. She wanted to change daycares because they were raising their rate, but when she dropped off her 2 year old boy and he entered the room, all the other children yelled his name and ran up and hugged him. It made her cry the happy tears.

    Good luck with your daycare woes.

  13. how bout i just move to seattle and be your nanny? yep sounds good…be there in a couple of weeks šŸ˜‰

  14. I used to tell people that I left my girl in the bathroom with a bowl of food and a bowl of water, then walk away. **Really, she was w/my aunt, a retired nurse.

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