All good things must end

NS February 11th, 2010

I knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise. So why did I still feel like I’d been knocked sideways by the news I received today? Maybe I had been in denial.

But I can’t deny it any longer; my childminder, J, the one who is so wonderful and affordable and resides so nearby, is moving. She’s moving back to the area she is originally from, which is hours away from here. And while I am happy for her and appreciative of all that she’s done for us, I can’t help but feel a twinge of ‘It’s not fair!’ about the whole thing. We only started with J at the very end of October, just over three months ago. It was only two weeks ago that my son stopped crying when I dropped him off every Thursday (he goes one day a week). I loved knowing that he got some playtime with two other children his age (J’s own little boy and another girl she cares for) and many trips to the playground just across the road. And TNC will be gutted, she really will. Her key worker and favourite teacher just left the pre-school she attends a couple weeks ago, and now this. The only two other women (aside from family) who I’ve ever trusted with my girl and have seen her bond with have gone or are going.

Obviously, this is just the way things are. This is life. It’s nothing to get worked up about. People change childminders and teachers all of the time. Children grow, circumstances change and other aspirations beckon. Sometimes it will be them leaving us; sometimes it will be us leaving them. But I will still find it difficult when I have to explain to TNC that J is leaving and why she won’t see her again. It will tear me up to have to go through the process all over again with my little boy — the crying, the clinging, the arms reaching out and the little voice calling “Mama! Mama!” as I shut the door to a stranger’s house and walk away, leaving him, and my heart, inside.

That is, if I do have to do it again. Now that this Good Thing is ending, I’m not sure I have the energy or inclination or even a reason to find a replacement. As it is, I’m only bringing in just enough income to cover the costs of the two-day-a-week childcare, at J’s lower-than-average fee for this area. I simply can’t afford to pay more than I am now and I need someone who also lives nearby, is willing to take each child for only one day per week, with a view to taking them on in a more full-time capacity if/when I start back to work this autumn. I was incredibly lucky when I began my search to find someone so quickly (indeed, the third person I contacted), who shared my views on childcare and who fit all of the above criteria as well. I can’t help but feel that I won’t be so lucky next time around.

The other thing this has made me confront is the fact that the freelance thing hasn’t exactly taken off. I got so busy with creating Fertile Feminism and making noises and notes about a corresponding book idea that I haven’t had much time for trying to establish some paid work. I’m no closer now to earning money from writing than I was before I began this childminding venture. Granted, I said I was going to give it six months and, if J doesn’t leave for another 8 weeks, it should give me just about that. I somehow doubt, however, that I’m going to get a successful freelance career up and running before then. And if I go back to no outside childcare (or just can’t find any that suits), I will have even less time to pursue it than before. Does that mean it’s hi-ho-hi-ho, back to work I go? The thought simultaneously excites me and fills me with dread.

There’s also the small matter of me losing my marbles if I have to give up my two days a week to myself: to write and think and run errands or drink a cup of tea without children demanding my attention and needing me with all their needlessly endless needs. Since I hired a cleaner and a childminder, I have been so much happier. I’ve been full of energy, getting more sleep, getting more done. My marriage has improved drastically. My self-confidence is (was?) at an all-time high and my tendency towards depressive episodes low. And now, I feel as if I’m watching it slip away like a kite string tugged from my fingers by a strong wind, until all I can do is shield my eyes from the bright, burning sun of reality and squint at the receding shape of The Way Things Were as it tumbles and twirls through the sky, flying further and further from my grasp. Can I get another kite up in the air, or will it land with a resounding thud on the ground of some barren, muddy field over yonder?

I have 6-8 weeks to find out.

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31 Responses to “All good things must end”

  1. I’m sure you will find someone who fits the bill; everything in life happens for a reason and the reason for this could be that someone even better is waiting in the wings.

    Just a temporary blip along life’s path. The road will soon become clear ahead.

    Hugs, CJ xx

    NS Reply:

    @Crystal Jigsaw, Funny you should say that about something better waiting in the wings — I just applied for a new job! So we’ll see.

  2. Ah, such a shame she’s moving and just when everything was settling down.

    It sounds to me like you know you want to keep those 2 days a week for you so I’m sure you’ll find another way around it.

    Keep persevering, on all fronts.


    NS Reply:

    @Insomniac Mummy, Yes, it does seem I want to keep them. The thought of not having them does fill me with dread, so that should tell me something.

  3. Irene says:

    Don’t give up hope. You need those two days. They are important to you. You’re worth every penny and effort to get them. Good luck.

    NS Reply:

    @Irene, Thank you Irene.

  4. Iota says:

    Sounds like you need those two days, but I do understand the difficulty of finding a childminder you trust.

    I loved your phrase “…needing me with all their needlessly endless needs”. Yes. It feels just like that.

    NS Reply:

    @Iota, Yup, it never ever ever ends. Sigh. Maybe one day…

    Iota Reply:

    @NS, But of course it DOES end… When they go to school, it feels very different. That’s not so long away for your oldest one.

  5. A Free Man says:

    Good luck sorting it all out. These are tough decisions to make.

    NS Reply:

    @A Free Man, Thanks dude. ;)

  6. Capital Mom says:

    Here’s hoping you find someone. It sounds like those 2 days are worth holding onto. Fingers crossed.

    NS Reply:

    @Capital Mom, Thanks for the finger-crossing, I’m going to need it.

  7. Becky says:

    It seems from a lot of what you write that the childcare cost/earning balance isn’t all it’s about. Part of that freed up time is about you not going mad and I’m guessing that’s probably as important to your family as the money. So find replacement care; give up the cleaner if you have to free up a bit more money; give the freelance career another 6 months (after all, you got distracted and it happens); and stay sane.

    NS Reply:

    @Becky, I did get distracted, you’re right. And I don’t regret it, really. I just need to buckle down now. I’ve worked out a new ‘work schedule’ with hubby so I can get more work done in the evenings as well, so that should help.

  8. Reluctant Blogger says:

    Oh dear, I remember those feelings well. The tiny years go so quickly though – you’ll be out of the nightmare that is childcare before you know it.

    You certainly do need some time to yourself – well, not just you, I mean anyone does – so whatever happens make sure you carve some of that out for yourself.

    I hope you sort something out that makes you all happy. And do perservere with the writing – these things take time to take off.

    NS Reply:

    @Reluctant Blogger, Thank you, I appreciate that. :)

  9. Liz says:

    Hey, so sorry to hear this, you definitely have my sympathies, I hope something works out for you soon.

    NS Reply:

    @Liz, Cheers darlin’.

  10. Expat Mum says:

    Hmmm. A tough one. If you don’t manage to find anyone (she says, positively) and have to do the full-time mothering thing – think of it as very temporary and your mood will be better. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel you might even find that you throw yourself into it and frighten the kids!
    As for the freelance career, tough love here – you have to stop faffing around with the non-paying stuff and put your back into it. It’s hard work sending out queries and all that but it often pays off.
    (All spoken from experience.)

    NS Reply:

    @Expat Mum, You’re absolutely right about faffing around. Am working on my CV today for a job I spied over the weekend. If that doesn’t pan out then I’m getting my bum in gear and flinging myself headfirst into the freelance thing. Note to self: STOP FAFFING! (I love that word).

  11. Luschka says:

    A cleaner AND a child minder… wow. I’m not inviting you to my house. I have neither and it shows! I’m sure you’ll find someone again though. I know how hard it is to leave your child with someone, I’m still not able, but there are good people around. Good luck!

    NS Reply:

    @Luschka, Yes, it’s all rather ‘Desperate Housewives’ darling. Next I’ll have a pool boy *snort* I consider the cleaner (1.5 hours a week) cheap marriage counselling. Seriously. DH and I hardly fight anymore now that we don’t have to argue about who is cleaning what at the weekends. Totally worth that bit of money. I’d rather get rid of a couple lunches or bottles of wine here and there than give up my cleaner. I’m hooked! :-D

  12. Anji says:

    Wait, what? Fertile Feminism is you? :D

    Have you thought about using a preschool/nursery rather than a childminder? That way the venue stays the same even if specific teachers leave.

    NS Reply:

    @Anji, I have but the ones around here are very expensive. £50-70 for one day! Plus, the bugbear is that I need someone to pick TNC up from pre-school on Mondays, which is obviously not an option with a nursery. I don’t even know if they allow half days. Suppose I could look into it though.

  13. Nova says:

    What an honest post, I think you should do everything you can to keep those two days for yourself. A happy mum and a happy wife is good for everyone. I always used to put my babies in nursery when they turned two for a couple of mornings a week just to regain some sanity. The fact that you want to work in that time will surely be justified. I hope it all sorts out for you.

    NS Reply:

    @Nova, Very true, thanks for reminding me of that. I did say to TNH, “I *can* go back to not having any childcare but we’d also go back to me being cranky, miserable and wanting time to myself at the weekends instead of spending it together.” I think he knows that this is not an attractive option either.

  14. Inga says:

    I’ve been reading your site for some time now – linked through from Jen’s Den of Iniquity and I really enjoy so much of what you write and how you write about it.

    My thoughts are:

    1. Fertile Feminism kicks ass. I’m not a mother (yet, and maybe never – but am for certain a Feminist) but want to be involved somehow! Maybe just by continuing to read now that I’ve found it. :)

    2. And The kite? Muddy fields, if they even enter the picture, are temporary (and necessary, maybe?). Wind (one of the very best elements, no?) trumps many things. And it seems to me you have a lot of drive, awareness, vision and power. Good things ahead!

  15. I’m thinking of finding another mom (how, I have no idea) who stays home all week, too, and offering to swap days with her kids. You know, like, I take ALL the kids M and W, she takes them all T & Th. No money exchanges hands, but we still get time to ourselves. It could be a brilliant idea or a really, really stupid one. I’ll let you know.

  16. If you can keep the two days up, do try. And keep focused – it can take years, literally years of hard networking work to get a freelance career up and running and London is a tough city to do so in. But I do have friend’s who’ve managed it so it can definitely be done!

  17. NS says:

    @Dad Who Writes, Thank you for your encouragement, I really appreciate it. I’m going to keep plugging away!