Archive for the tag 'childcare'

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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