It’s very hard to find good help. A working mom’s most important ally is arguably her child care provider. Okay yes, and a very supportive and engaged father. But without good child care, I assure you nothing else falls into place.
I work full-time, my days are long because I have a lengthy commute. My children spend 10 hours a day in care. There is no debate. I need quality care for my children.
When my life feels like it’s spinning out of control, knowing that my children are loved, engaged and well-cared for makes all the difference. It’s a peace of mind that is worth more than almost anything else at this point in my life.
For the past three years I’ve been very fortunate. My oldest (and for four months my youngest) have been welcomed into the home of people who have become family. Their caregiver loves them as if they were her own and without reservation. She puts my mind at ease, I never worry and sometimes think she’s doing a better job than I would if I were home. They go to play dates, the library, on field trips to places like farms and parks. They do regular and interesting learning activities and crafts. They read, they play, they interact. They eat better than I do. They learn discipline, and how to be polite. My children are loved, wanted and part of the picture. They are thriving, well-adjusted and well-rounded little boys because of her. She is a second mom to them and I cannot stress how profound her influence has been.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. She’s moving on to pursue new and important personal goals. And I wish her only the best. She deserves it.
Her decision is not about us. And yet to me, it’s all about us. It’s heartbreaking, for me and for my boys. Everything is about to change and it’s scary. It’s scary because I have no idea whether I’ll be able to find another like her. But I’m not prepared to settle for any less.
My oldest will start all-day, everyday kindergarten in the fall. He’s growing up, coming into his own and ready to venture into a whole new world. He’ll still need before and after care, but by and large he’s facing change no matter what. It’s my youngest who has me the most concerned. I cannot accept any less for him because it wouldn’t be fair. And I simply don’t want less for him. Why would I? And so I struggle. What will I do if I can’t find the perfect provider? My expectations are high.
I prefer a home care provider because I think our children have their whole lives to spend in an institution, but only this short time to live their day in the comfort of a home. We’ve been to visit a couple of providers. My experience in interviewing these women has been less than stellar. In fact, in one situation I had a strong urge to run screaming. Let me paint the picture.
She has two dogs. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this except that you think it would be more professional to keep them separate for the sake of the first interview, perhaps bringing them out for a quick introduction. But this was not the case. Not only were the dogs jumping all over us, they were in my children’s face. THE WHOLE TIME. And it gets better. She let them chew on our shoes. Oh yes. That’s right. And I told her. “Your dogs are chewing on our shoes.” Her response. “Hmmm, hmmm,” and she went on sitting at the kitchen table. There was dog poo all over her back deck. She kept reinforcing the fact that her backyard is fenced in so that the kids can’t sneak off. So I ask you, what do you think that means? Because really, should I ever be concerned that my 16 month would sneak off? When I asked her about the things that they do? “Oh you know, we just go with the flow here, I let the kids set the tone for the day.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
But here’s the clincher, when I asked about the kind of meals she serves, she said, and I quote without editing, “If you like, I’d be happy to feed them Gerber Graduates.” Oh yes. This was offered in completely seriousness and with every indication that it would be an upgrade. The more I dwell on it, the more my blood boils.
So obviously, she was a no and I’m disheartened. I’m disheartened that my search isn’t going to be easy. And I”m not suggesting that it necessarily should be. They are my children and I’m prepared to search as long as it takes. But I’m disheartened that there are so few good places for them out there. And for children in general. Why is the service of child care so undervalued in society? Why don’t we provide more options for working mothers, but more importantly for their children? Before the current Conservative Government in our country was elected we were on the cusp of our first ever National Daycare Strategy. Enter Stephen Harper and the entire plan was scrapped. Years of work and lobbying and progress between the provinces and the federal government went up in Conservative smoke. Now, the federal government thinks they are doing all they need to by providing parents of children under 6 with $100 cheque every month. It’s so ridiculous it’s laughable.
So here I sit. I have two months to find a caregiver who will offer everything that I want, everything that my children deserve. Will I need to be willing to accept compromise? Quite likely. And yes, I resent it.
And though I choose to work, in reality it isn’t really a choice. We need two incomes. Do I wish we weren’t in this situation. Honestly, yes. But, for better or worse, we are. So I persevere and hold out hope that our family can be blessed a second time. Because I have to.