A. We have found a daycare space for Gwen. If you look outside and see the trees waving and bending, you might assume it's the wind, but it's actually me breathing a HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.
Q. What's the place like?
A. Gwen's new care provider is named Denise. She has three daughters of her own; the youngest two (16 months and 5 years) are at home with her while the oldest is in school (though the 5-year-old goes to outside daycare 2 days a week). There is also a 14-month-old girl and a 14-month-old boy in her care. When I went to meet with Denise on Tuesday, her youngest daughter and the 14-month-old girl were there, and I immediately knew these were the playmates for Gwen. I brought Gwen and Chris along with me yesterday and the decision was unanimous.
Denise worked in a daycare centre for 13 years before making the decision to stay home with her youngest daughter and provide daycare there. I love that she has all that experience, I love that she loves working with kids, I love that she has lived in Nanaimo all her life and doesn't foresee moving or any other upheaval.
Q. How on earth have you been so calm for the last three days? I would have been ranting and cursing so much, I would have been useless!
A. Don't get me wrong - I can rant and curse with the best of them. And this was a really rant-worthy situation. Without a doubt, the past 72 hours have been the absolute most stressful time since I became a parent. There are, I think, three reasons why I didn't completely fall apart.
1. I assessed the situation very quickly and realized that the time to rant and curse was a luxury I didn't have. There was a ticking clock counting down until my first day of work, and I needed to spend all my energies finding a solution to the problem.
2. I instinctively felt that I had a large enough and generous enough group of friends that even if there was a gap of a few weeks between my work starting and us finding the perfect place for Gwen, she would be well cared for by one friend and another over that time.
3. I kept thinking of Madeline's mom and Thalon's mom and telling myself how either of them would gladly give just about anything they have in order to have their worst problem be a flaky daycare provider.
Q. So, what have you learned?
A. I've learned that my backup plans need backup plans. That Plans A and B are a good start, but ideally we should have Plans C through G on standby. I've already started a phone list of friends who've said they're willing to be backups for Gwen's care. I've also learned that I have a really incredible group of friends. I posted a note on Facebook asking for help and the response was absolutely overwhelming. My phone kept ringing and my email box was stuffed full of suggestions, sympathy, encouragement, and offers of help. I am really, really blessed. Even knowing that there were other moms out there sympathizing with me and thinking of us in our predicament, helped me get through it with a little more grace.
Q. What now?
A. Well, I took Gwen to Denise's today and spent about 2.5 hours there with her. At one point, I left for 20 minutes to see how she'd do. She did absolutely fine - didn't even seem to care that I was gone. She seemed to do really well with me there, too. Not clingy (surprise surprise - when is my little girl ever clingy?) or shy, just exploring and having a great time. I feel good about her being there. I know she'll enjoy it and learn so much. Tomorrow, I'm going to try leaving her for an hour or maybe even two, depending on how she does. Then next week, she'll be there for four solid days in a row.
Q. Four whole days? Wow! Not much of a transition there, eh?
A. Nope. Next week is going to suck, and I don't think there's any way around it. Obviously, this is not how I planned to transition Gwen into daycare, but I have to keep reminding myself that she won't even remember this time. There's nothing we can do but brace ourselves.
Q. And what about you? Starting work fulltime again - how do you feel about that?
A. Just to ramp up my own personal stress level, I spoke to my boss a few days ago and was informed about some changes to my job that I am unenthusiastic and even somewhat fearful about. At one point, before we solidified our daycare plans, I felt that I was really in a losing battle: that I was going back to work at a job I hate, and leaving Gwen with some as-yet-unnamed stranger, and for what? (Chris eventually reminded me that the "what" was that whole thing about continuing to be able to pay our mortgage. Oh, yeah.) The next couple of weeks will be a big transition for me too. Nothing to do but brace myself. The paycheque will be nice, I suppose.
Q. So, now that you've got daycare figured out, are you feeling relieved?
A. You know, it's really selfish of me, but I feel really sad. I just realized last night that I am going to really miss Gwen while I'm at work. I guess I made the decision that staying home fulltime wasn't the right option for me back when she was, oh, under six months old, I'd say. But she's a different kid now, so entertaining and hilarious and bursting with personality. I still don't want to be at home fulltime, but I feel so frustrated and sad about being away from her so much. Talking to Chris has helped, as he pointed out that he is away from her every day as well, and I know their bond is incredibly strong and that they get so much joy from each other. I guess it's all just another step away from me and towards the whole wide world. Her birth was one, and sometimes I still miss how it felt when she kicked and bumped from inside me, responding to my voice or my touch. But I wouldn't want her to stay in there forever, either. Change is good, and necessary for growth. I'm working on reminding myself that it's okay to grieve the end of this time, and that my sadness doesn't mean I've made the wrong choice.
Q. Okay, that last part was sad and made us all sniffly! You'd better cheer us up.
A. Okay! Check out this adorable picture of my daughter, taken by Brooke at Captured Essence Photography.