This weekend we found a daycare provider! She is awesome and perfect. She came out the front door when we pulled up and immediately asked to hold the baby. She was so cute. Talking and interacting with Jack. Telling him all the fun they would have together. Her house was clean and decorated in that "mom's house, but stylish" kind of way. She asked if we would be comfortable letting her take Jack to the parks, to the mall to people watch, to go swimming.....hell can I come to daycare too?
Andy approved as well. He liked the fact that when Jack got a little fussy (YAY for teething grumps..well and plus I had to wake him up to go meet her...not the happiest he could have been...but it speaks volumes for how easy our kid is when she was like 'is he always this mellow and happy?') she said 'oh you want your daddy?' and handed him over. Andy gets annoyed when people are like 'you probably want your mommy'....the dynamics in our house are definitely unique and I can't help but feeling like we are super lucky for this experience. Most dad's don't get this and even when it is hard, I can tell that Andy sees it as rewarding. Sometimes I have to check my feelings and remind myself that we aren't in a competition. There have been times when I come home, Jack attaches to my boob, then I sit him up and he immediately looks to his dad and smiles like he is saying 'now that I am fed, let's get back to this playing business'. I'll admit, there are times I feel more like his personal dairy cow than his momma. But those thoughts are squashed by days like Sunday, when he was fussy and just wanted to lay his head on my chest and cuddle (fine by me!).
Anyway, Andy gave his seal of approval. It was such a relief to find her. Her house is in a great location. It is a few blocks away from the Park-n-Ride where Andy catches his bus. So for him it will be super convenient to drop off Jack and then catch the bus. It is slightly less convenient for me, but, unlike a few other providers I talked to, she is fine with him staying past 6pm if it takes me a while to get there. This means, I can still take the train/bus and I don't have rush out the door at work worrying about whether I will piss off the daycare provider if I am a few minutes late. She is going to be awesome.
So whew! But I have to tell you about our not-so-awesome experience on Friday. The scary "run for your lives" experience that was way worse than our Am.y Win.ehouse experience from January....I just re-read that post and realized I never mentioned how the daycare provider at the second daycare looked like A.my Wineho.use....um 'nuff said there.
I have been researching home daycares for several months now and wanted to be able to compare them to the larger daycares we had visited, since the costs are significantly lower. Now I know Craig.slist isn't the best place to find things, but I e-mailed a few, got resumes and references and then picked out three to visit. On paper this lady looked awesome. She's a gir.l sc.out leader, treasurer for the P.TA, mother of 4 who wants to be able to stay home with her kids, she has an associates in finance, her responses to my questions were exactly what I was looking for. In her defense I am sure she is a really great person, just like she appeared to be from our interaction....but in real life. I just couldn't leave my child there. On our way into her neighborhood we started realizing it was a little 'rough'. Pawn shops, abandoned cars, topless men (not the hot kind) lingering about, you know that kind of thing. Okay this isn't necessarily a deal breaker. I grew up in a neighborhood almost identical to this. We weren't affluent, our house was very small, but we kept it nice. I thought: Give her the benefit of the doubt. We passed the house at first and then realized it was a duplex, with an abandoned couch up on it's side out front, several cars that don't appear to run...okay those could belong to the guy next door...(bad feelings starting to get worse)...she is expecting you, just go in and meet her. You might be surprised. I get the baby out of the car and we walk up to the door. Andy later told me 'it is never a good sign when I am grateful I have a second magazine (gun magazine)'. Under the stairs is a giant pile of broken toys, abandoned strollers, etc. Not good, not good. I knock on the door and a heavy set woman....okay she was trashy...I hate to say it, but she was. poorly bleached hair, shorts too short for her physique, tattooes, she's probably a smoker. We go inside...I am not sure why we did. I kind of felt obligated. There were four little children...dirty children..running about. I tried to think of questions to ask that would make it seem like I was actually still considering this place as an option. The interior was dirty. The floor, the table, the couches, everything. I worried that she saw this as her "clean" since she obviously felt it okay for me to come for a home visit. Which made me worry what her "dirty" was.
One of her kids opened a door to what I can only assume is a bedroom and I could see a giant pile of clothes...like up to the ceiling....in the back corner....well I do like 'Hoarders', but I like to watch that shit on TV not see it in person. Her daycare partner was maybe in her 30s also tattooed and heavy set. She was holding her grandson, whose face was dirty....listen I know kids get dirty. But they get dirty from playing outside. From what I could tell, there was no backyard....meaning they got dirty from playing inside. I asked her about her children, basically trying to buy enough time so that it didn't look like we were running for the hills, even though that is basically what we were doing. Her youngest was about to start pre-school. And she was still in diapers. Not a good sign. I didn't really need to ask to know that basically Jack would be sitting on the couch all day watching TV. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with him being exposed to TV. I think it is silly those people who are like 'what is your curriculum?' when you are talking about a 4 month old. But there will come a point when he will need more interaction, more stimulation, activity, exposure to the world. I couldn't imagine that happening here. We left there and I started thinking: alright how can I get Andy's sister fired so she can be our daycare provider? I was back to the position of being ready to sell my ovaries to afford the expensive daycare we checked out in January.
Since I was so jaded from this first experience, I decided that we needed to do a drive-by of the other lady's house. We weren't meeting her until Saturday, but if the location didn't look good (yes I was about to judge a book by its cover), then I would be ready to cancel with her and just resign to the other daycare. I sighed a hugh sigh of relief as we drove by her house.....yes we are stalkers...and I realized that the neighborhood was very similar to our own. Not really affluent, but nice 1950s ranch homes, lawns well kept for the most part. Families, older people, that sort of thing. Her house backed up to an elementary school. Whew! I felt better. I remembered that everything isn't going to be like those select few bad ones.
I kind of feel bad about myself....I mean I do think that this woman is probably very sweet. She seemed like she had a good heart. She was probably just trying to help out her husband and provide for her family. She genuinely sounded like she loved caring for kids....I just couldn't bring myself to leave him there. We don't make a lot of money, especially with Andy in school, and again, I didn't grow up with much, but we were always very conscious of taking care of what we did have. My parents didn't have better cars than these people, we didn't have a bigger house, in fact I think it was much smaller. I am certain when the furnace or water heater broke, my parents stressed about how they would pay to fix it. I realize that now that I am an adult and deal with those things, but I never felt it back then. I was never really aware how modest our life was until, quite honestly, I started dating Andy. It made me grateful with the way my parent's raised us. We had enough. It never felt like we went without things....I think we did, but we weren't really aware of it back then. How amazing is that? My parents are flipping amazing if they could make us happy and feel completely fulfilled with very little.
So I will admit, I have become a snob. I have unknowingly come to expect things from people, no matter their means. And I do feel a little bad about it. I wish I could help this woman. I kept thinking: maybe if I were to give her the chance, I could be the one to help her change her future ...but I just couldn't. Not with Jack. Not with my baby. I came home to our house and realized that even though at times I feel like we don't keep up with the cleaning as I think we should, or mow the lawn every week as we should, that we actually do keep things pretty nice. Even my definition of 'messy' isn't bad enough that I would not invite someone over. 'Messy' in our house usually takes a few minutes to remedy: put a couple glasses in the dishwasher, wipe off the counters, fold the laundry on the dryer....or, if we're being honest, close the laundry room doors.
So I judged. I am a judgemental person. Welcome to reality, Natalie.