Lowering Standards

Aurelia asked if I really consider needing daycare a defeat. Yes and no. I have no problem with daycare – I think socialization for babies and out-of-home lives for parents are good things. Thing is, we don’t have that much money, and trading off care was a way to preserve the 50% of my pre-tax income it will cost to put the Baby Man in daycare a measly 2 days a week to pay for food, heat, electricity, water, the occasional burrito. [I am in the process of improving the anonymity of my blog so everyone will be getting pseudonyms except for Natan. I already have one. Somebody found this blog by searching a way that I didn’t like, hence the need to change things.]

So it seemed to make sense if JJ and I could trade off days—that’s been the plan since before we got pregnant the first time, to do that for the duration of our studenthood.

Natan’s death took a lot of things away, beyond the big obvious one, getting to know him and share a long life as his parents.

His death extended the time it took to get our degrees. It meant that my next pregnancy was a high risk one. Neither of us finished and got on the market as soon as we’d planned, or are as well prepared as we’d planned. We’re spending an extra year making very little money.

Forget the extra year. Despite that, I thought I’d be fine working on my dissertation after a baby (any baby!) came. Because I have always been able to work well while busy. I used to handle pressure well. Actually, the busier I was, the better I worked – I could focus intently during whatever hours I had.

Of course a dissertation is hard. But since Natan died I have a new trait. The stare at the wall trait. I need more time for the random and unexpected bouts of sadness and grief that occur. I need time to process what has happened to me over the past 18 months. I can’t do it while with Baby Man, obviously.

My current schedule does not allow me time to do much for myself, or if it does, it always means I’m shortchanging something. I am always behind, always rushed, always forgetting something. If I take a moment to do anything not related to work or caring for Baby Man, I always know I should be doing something else. Among many other things, I want some time to sort through my feelings, to talk to friends, to be there for so many of you who were there for me.

I just can’t push myself as hard anymore. Or perhaps the problem is what I’m pushing against has gotten much more difficult. I’ve found my own personal solid wall and smacked into it, hard.

I just can’t do it without more help.

One good thing, though, that Natan’s death taught me was how to ask for and accept help. Help this time might cost us almost $800/month (for 2 days a week—wow this town is expensive!) but I really, really need it.

There is cheaper care available, but I will not hire a babysitter. I want a licensed provider I have vetted well, and a stimulating environment for him. I toured two places with part-time openings for infants (the only places not ridiculously far away). After the first I thought, “Well, this will be ok,” but knew it was going to take time to assuage the guilt. The second, I actually felt like I would feel happy about leaving him there. I knew he would be well cared for as well as happy and might learn something. It would cost $1600 more for the year than the other place, but it’s not Baby Man’s fault I’m overwhelmed. I’m still waiting for JJ and my mom (who is visiting this weekend) to see if they feel the same.

I can’t make him compromise.

9 responses to “Lowering Standards

  1. So first, if you are scrubbing, there is Baby Man’s name in this post, and also in the blurb on the sidebar.
    Now, for the content. Asking for and accepting help is very important. And I think that can include asking for money. Gifts or even a loan from parents is a very reasonable thing to ask for here. Because I am willing to bet you will be more productive if you feel good about where Baby Man is while you are being all productive.

  2. And also? You are right– your town is ridiculously expensive. Wow.

    (Sorry, I was slow to do the math there.)

  3. Thanks Julia. It will take some getting used to, apparently.

    And considering where you are, I feel even more justified in thinking this place is a little full of itself.

  4. Ouch.. that is expensive. I get it though. I can’t get anything done with Andy with me. Nothing at all.

  5. “If I take a moment to do anything not related to work or caring for Baby Man, I always know I should be doing something else.”

    You know, though, even with part-time daycare you will feel this way. At least i know that i do.

  6. Daycare really is painfully expensive. And, of course, it’s not that anyone begrudges daycare providers their hard-earned money. It’s just that given the low child-caregiver ratios needed for young children, it ends up being an awful lot of money per child.

  7. Wow, your daycare costs are about the same as mine out here, where the average is $50-60 per day, per child for good (but not fancy) care. When I was working more, I was spending the equivalent of a brand-new car on childcare annually. Except I was driving around in an 11-year-old jalopy while doing it!

    As Niobe says, I don’t begrudge the daycare providers their pay. But I wish that there was a better tax break or gov’t subsidy for parents who work. And as long as I’m wishing, I’ll add that employers ought to be less rigid about how they create jobs. For most moms, a decent-paying part-time job with benefits is something of a holy grail. For those of us fortunate enough to even have the option of part-time work, we usually pay a price for it, in terms of lack of health insurance, tax-sheltered retirements accounts, etc. for the years we work less.

    (Ok, off my soap box now.) Here’s hoping that Baby Man transitions to daycare well, and that you have that child-free time you need to get your work done!

  8. Yeah, Wabi, the less expensive place that I just didn’t like charged $60/day. JJ has now seen them both and agrees. Sigh. I certainly don’t begrudge the childcare workers their money at all, but you’re all totally right. There should be a better system here. I *might* be able to get some help from the U – depends on if I’m not too late since the subsidies are limited. Of course we didn’t make this decision a school year in advance as I guess we were supposed to have done….

  9. late to this, B…and mostly just gaping at the cost. wow. here, the standard cost for day at licensed establishments is $30 per day for under-2s (though spaces are very hard to find) and $25-$28 per day for over-2s. we’ve had O in a home care setting with a lovely woman who has her early childhood cert. but has chosen to be home with her own child (who is O’s age), and takes in three others, one only two days per week. he’s been there fourteen months now and it’s been really positive…she will charge $30 per day until he’s three, and she provides lunch.

    i don’t know if similar setups would be available where you are, with a certified carer providing a stimulating environment in her home? here, obviously, a good home-care setting is just as or more expensive than a daycare, but maybe where you are it might be a less expensive alternative?

    if not, well, i totally get your priority to have Baby Man in a stimulating, stable, happy environment and i sympathize with the stress of setting all this up. i hope it goes well for all of you. 🙂

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