Q&A: Leaving daycare and finding good care in a new place

Elise writes:

"We're moving due to husband's job and overall, it's going to be really good for us. That being said, I'm having a dickens of a time finding a good day care. Child is 2 and in the Ritz Carlton of daycares. The place we're moving to is a smaller town. There are lots of daycares, but none so far have come close to the place we have now. I'm also pregnant with #2 due in November. So, lots of questions:

– how do I give up or accept that I won't find the diamond quality we have now?
– should we consider in-home care?
– should I move the 2 year old when he's 3 to an actual pre-school or find a daycare that provides pre-school to minimize him moving to different schools, etc.?
– how do I not cry every time I think about having to leave this awesome place?"

There's a lot going on in this email, so let's take it apart:

The first thing I'm seeing is the sadness at having to leave the awesome daycare. Even if there was an almost identical place in New Town, you'd still feel sad at having to leave this place, and that's normal and good. I'd think about how you're going to help your son to say goodbye to his caregivers and them to him, and how you're going to say goodbye. Also, figure out how to be able to keep in touch so he doesn't lose them completely.

Now, having talked about that, your first question is really a matter of framing. You love what you have now, and you can't find the same exact thing in New Town, but that doesn't mean you won't find something just as great in a totally different way. Different places have different configurations of daycare–in my hometown in-home care is the norm, but I didn't know anyone who did in-home care in my old neighborhood in NYC and so many people had nannies, which are unheard of for all but the super-rich in other places.

Basically, you need to figure out what's the standard where you're going and go with that. If in-home care (either a nanny or a home daycare) is what everyone does, then that's where you'll probably find the excellence in New Town. (And the question about moving him to preschool or keeping him in daycare is also location-dependent, IME, so you won't really know unless you can ask and find out what everyone else does.)

This IS going to work out. You are going to have to go through grieving the old place, though. AND you're going to have to grieve all the time and energy you spent learning the system to make the best choice in your current place just to have to repeat that same learning curve for New Town. Not fun, but you know more about what you needd this time around.

Does anyone have advice about what to look for in a home-based daycare or how you found a good nanny? (I found my two great nannies at church, so I've got nothing.)

Q&A: What you need to have a baby

Vanessa writes:

"Could you do something soliciting what things, both concrete and non, one needs to parent? I am thinking about trying to have a baby, but I'd be a single parent, and I am soliciting feedback in…every conceivable area!

Thanks!"

Simple answer: A baby needs diapers, clothes, a place to sleep, and something to eat.

Next level: You also need a car seat, some kind of carrier (stroller/sling/wrap/Ergo/whatever).

Seriously, though: You need that stuff. But you also need support. At the very least, you need a babysitter you pay who is rock solid, to relieve you when you need to do things without the baby, plus childcare for while you're at work (whether that's daycare or an individual babysitter).

Ideally, you'd also have personal support, in the form of family and friends, who can be with you while you're parenting your child, and who can be part of your child's life. We're really truly not meant to parent children alone, and the isolation can be horrible. The number one factor correlating with post-partum depression is lack of support, so I would take this part seriously. Make sure you have your support system lined up to be part of it.

What do you all think? I'd love to hear from parents who had or adopted babies on their own, from single parents of all ilks, and from parents in general about what you need. Everything from gear to larger-picture things.

Rehearsing for bad situations

This morning my friend and her daughter are going to court to testify against the child rapist who fondled my friend's daughter on the street. (In the comments yesterday Maria remarked that the guy looked creepy. My friend said she and her daughter had both noticed him a block away becuase he looked creepy! Instincts.)

Here's a tv news interview with my friend about it all. Worth a watch, IMO.

My friend and I talked yesterday about the whole incident. I posted the news piece on my FB page and she said she'd been thinking about the time I chased some guy out of the playground with my camera phone because the guy came in and started snapping pictures of kids in the playground.

That made us realize that she and I and our other playground friends had been rehearsing what to do if we saw someone we suspected of hurting kids. We talked about it and planned for it. So when it actually happened, she didn't hesitate because she'd rehearsed exactly what to do.

She also mentioned to me that she thinks her daughter didn't hesitate to tell her when the man touched her because they'd had conversations about appropriate touch and inappropriate touch. They'd been rehearsing what to do if it happened, so when it did, her daughter didn't hesitate to tell her.

I know I worry a lot as a parent (less now than I did when I had infants) but I've never felt bad about worrying, because my worry took the form of figuring out what I'd do if something bad happened. I have "escape plan" scenarios in my head for all kinds of situations, and my mind just goes there. I learned in a management class lasst semester that there's actually a term for rehearsing recovery scenarios: defensive pessimism. Being a defensive pessimist doesn't mean you're a true pessimist–it just means that you see the negative possibilities and make plans to avoid or recover from them.

Thoughts? Worry vs. being prepared? Rehearsal as part of defensive pessimism?

One of my friends busted a molester!

Maybe, like me, you've seen creepy people hanging around the playground and wondered if they were really up to no good or if they just didn't understand they were acting creepy. It was a common topic of conversation with the other parents on the playground when I lived in NYC.

So imagine my delight when one of my good friends from our awesome preschool caught a registered sex offender by snapping a pic of him with her phone and showing the police, after he touched her daughter.

Here, read the story: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/kid_perv_cam_bust_FUGeyQVc6tPjysIHfwXRKL

How bad-ass is she?

Her kid tells her the man touched her (good for her daughter!), and she doesn't hesitate. She just snaps the pic and takes it to the police, and now a convicted child rapist is behind bars again.

I knew my friend was a super-star the first day we met, but this is just beyond beyond.

Trust your instincts.

Don't be afraid to break social norms.

Fight for your kids.

Have a excellent day.

 

 

Book Review: Dear Dad, It’s Over by M. Dickson

[Today is the kickoff of my super-informal Summer Reading Challenge for adults (all ages, really). It's the grown-up version of the summer reading programs you used to do at the public library as a kid, in which you'd pledge how many books you were going to read over the summer, and then if you made your pledge number you'd get a prize. If you're on Facebook you can Like the Summer Reading Challenge page there, and post your pledge and talk about books. If not, just do it at home on your own. The rules are simple:

1. It runs May 15 through September 15.

2. Pledge how many books you'll read, and when you hit your goal, buy yourself a present.

3. All books count–cheap romance novels, graphic novels, YA, whatever. Unless you've read it so many times you can recite huge chunks of dialogue.

4. You really only have to get through 25 of the shades of grey to consider that book finished.]

Now, in honor of the first day, I'm reviewing M. Dickson's Dear Dad, It's Over, a memoir of her life as a child of divorce. (A specific interest of mine for obvious reasons.) M and I know each other and she sent me the book to review, but there was no money or anything else of value exchanged (except thoughts) in exchange for this review.

I started reading the book thinking it would be funny, because M is funny, and it's kind of a funny title. The idea that your dad would piss you off so much that you'd tell him "It's over" was kind of an old-style, All In The Family trope, and I was ready for something overblown and cartoonish.

But the book is really the narrative of how M.'s dad failed to be a decent father once her parents divorced. There is dark, biting humor, but this isn't a comical sketch about a loveable-but-annoying dad. M's father is a bad person. Not an evil person, just an ordinary bad person who can't get past his own selfishness to be able to think about what a little girl (or a big girl) needs and be able to give it to her. He can't get past his own selfishness to allow her to be herself, to allow her to love both her mother and him, and to do anything that interferes with his ego or comfort.

The title of the book refers to the fact that after years of thinking she could repair the relationship with her father, M. finally realized that it really wasn't in her control, and for her own emotional health she needed to cut off contact with her father.

I cringed while reading most of this book, because no child–no person–should be treated the way M's father has treated her. But I struggled with the idea that this was a book about divorce. The setting is divorce. But the actual plot and characters are just people, who are acting within the divorce setting. Getting a divorce didn't turn M's father into an emotionally abusive asshole–he was already one. (This may have been a contributing factor to the divorce.) And if her parents had stayed together, her dad still would have mistreated her–she just wouldn't have had any other place to go. The book describes the experience of a child whose parents are divorced, but it isn't a proscription. Any parent can be a better parent than M's dad was. Any parent needs to be a better parent than M's dad was.

What I, as a divorced parent, really took out of this book was the need to look not just at what my children need, but at how things feel to them. I have already tried extremely hard to allow them to have all of their feelings, and not to force them to pretend loyalty to me or my family if they aren't feeling it, and to affirm their relationship with their dad's side of the family. But I need to continue to pay attention to the transactional things, such as which clothes are where (they don't care now but they might soon), and making sure that the kids know the whole week's schedule at the beginning of the week.

I also realized that just because my own kids have a father who cares about them doesn't mean that there aren't other single parents struggling with trying to protect their children from an abusive other parent. And they might need some support from me. And their kids might need support, too.

Q&A: Your MIL and Mothers’ Day ownership?

Today's question:

"Here is an "anonymous" question…no way I'd post this with my name! Ever since we've gotten married I've send my MIL a card for mother's day. I've been a mother for 5 years now and not once has she sent me a card. She will call and wish me a happy Mother's Day though. She sends a card for everything else (birthday and anniversary). (And yes, this now sounds petty!)Is there some rule I don't know about…do Mother's Day cards only go one way generationally speaking?"

The devil is in the details, and it's the "petty" things that can eat away at us.

From my limited experience, some women have a big problem giving up the "I'm the Mom" identity to a daughter-in-law. I don't know if it's lack of confidence, or never having transitioned into a new identity that integrates other parts of who they are, but if you feel like your whole worth is in being a mother (and maybe you're not so sure of your skills in that area), and you feel like your child has left you to be with a daughter-in-law, then I can see how it would be hard to share the Mom role.

I'm not sure if you, as the daughter-in-law, can do much about it, except just try not to take it personally, because it really is more about her than it is about you.

You can decide to be a different kind of mother-in-law if your own child gets married someday. My own mother has made a very conscious effort to be as open and welcoming as possible to my brother's wife, and I can see how different their relationship is from my mom's relationship with her own MIL. It's possible, but it really has to come from the MIL, from what I can observe.

Thoughts? Who has a great relationship with a MIL or DIL and can identify why? Who has a bad relationship and can identify why? Who needs to vent about yesterday? Lay it on us.

Q&A: Staying up too late

Jen writes:

"WHY DO I STAY UP SO LATE EVERY NIGHT???"

At first glance, this seems like one of those silly surface questions. We all stay up too late goofing around on the internet or watching tv or knitting or reading or whatever.

But.

I think it's symptomatic of the core problem of motherhood, which is being simultaneously lonely and not having enough time to ourselves. I've been quoting Erma Bombeck for years (although now I can't find the quote everywhere so I have no way of verifying that it's really her quote!) the truest truth about SAH motherhood I've ever heard, and it sure applied to me when I was a WOH mom, too: "She's always lonely, but she never has any time to herself."

Yeah. We're all just fried from everything we do and everyone we have to interact with, and are longing for some deep time with ourselves, but at the same time we're just so lonely.

(I don't know about the rest of you, but it has gotten far, far better for me since my children have gotten older and there's no under-5 human interaction going on anymore.)

Because of my experience with mood disorders, I'm going to posit the theory that staying up too late is a form of self-medication and sensation-seeking.

The problem is that it's not without negative side effects. For one thing, we're tired all the damn time. And lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and inability to lose weight, which contributes to tiredness and frustration. And lack of sleep contributes to depression itself. (If you want to know how that all works, check out chapter 2 of the book NurtureShock, or if you're too tired to read the book, read my synopsis of Chapter 2 of NurtureShock.)

Yup.

So how about this? How about we all decide that starting this Sunday night, Mothers' Day, we are going to go to bed a full hour earlier than we usually do for two weeks in a row. I know an hour is a lot. But you deserve that hour. You deserve those 14 hours. And you still have two nights to stay up reading Cute Animals Bad Dates until 2 am before we start this.

Then, once we have some sleep in us, we'll talk about what to do about the deep loneliness while being simultaneously interacted out of our gourds.

Who's in?

An open letter to Time

Dear Time Magazine,

Please shut up.

We are too busy parenting our own kids to get all riled up about some hackneyed feud with other parents that you're making up to sell copies.

It makes you look out-of-touch and desperate, not to mention misogynist and patronizing.

And no, I'm not going to link to your inflammatory cover.

If you're taking requests, how about doing a piece that will actually help parents instead of setting us against each other.

Sincerely,

Moxie

Progress or stagnation?

Last weekend a lot of bloggers were in Miami for the Mom 2.0 conference. I was not. Instead, I took two days off work for the kickoff weekend of my second year of business school. (Did I mention that I graduate in 361 days?)

I was at school on Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm, Friday 9 am to 10 pm, and Saturday 9 am to 5 pm. I had about 250 pages of reading to do before the weekend, and two cases to prep, and arranging for my mom to take care of the kids while I wasn't there (their dad was one of the bloggers in Miami, so thank goodness for my mom). It wore me out.

But how happy am I? I'm the happiest girl in the world right now, I think, because I am making progress.

I'm writing a series this week over at Moxieville on "TV Moms We Can Learn From" and today's mom is Alice from the tv show "Alice." There are tons of reasons to love that whole show (have I told the story of falling all over myself when I met Polly Holliday who played Flo?), but the strength of Alice's character was that she took a huge derailment in her plans for progress and turned it into lemonade, and ultimately got where she wanted to be.

I have been thinking a lot lately about feeling stuck vs. feeling progress, and how for me that's always the key. If I feel like there's the possibility for movement, I can be content even if things aren't optimal. But if I feel stuck, then I'm unhappy even if things appear OK on the outside.

Where are you right now? Is there movement? Or are you feeling stuck?

 

(For those of you on Facebook. First, you should Like the Ask Moxie page. Then, if you're interested in a totally self-paced, self-defined, and self-rewarded summer reading challenge, Like the Summer Reading Challenge page and make your pledge of how many books you'll read between May 15 and September 15.)

Mothers’ Day for single moms

An anonymous readers has asked for tips for surviving Mothers' Day for single moms.

I think that they key is to identify and acknowledge what you're feeling. For some of us, Mothers' Day is better for being single, while for others of us it's worse, and for others it's just different.

I'm in the "better" category, and I figured out why years ago: I had such traditional and high expectations of Mothers' Day and those were never met, and then I felt hurt and defeated. Once I was single, I knew Mothers' Day was only what I made of it. So I bought myself a present (so I knew I'd like it), told the kids they were taking me to brunch (but I actually paid, as 6 and 3-year-olds don't usually have money), and told them how lucky I was to have them. Now that they're older they aren't having any of my buying myself a guft but pretending it's from them anymore. But now they make me sweet cards and drawings, and we still go to brunch, and they let me take a nap.

I also know some single moms who make it as different as possible by planning a day together with their kids, so it's not at all focused on just the individual moms but on the moms as a group and the kids as a group. I think this is a stellar idea.

It's the single moms who feel it's worse than when/if they were not single that I feel for. (Almost as much as I feel for women who have never been able to become moms but who wanted to on Mothers' Day.) I am wondering if there are ways to make it an easier day for them. One idea would be to invite them and their children into your own Mothers' Day plans so they're not the only adult for the day. Another idea would be to make sure their children have the time and supplies to make them cards or presents for that day, since kids want to give their mothers something but can't always do it on their own.

Can you think of other ideas? Single moms who hate being single on Mothers' Day, how do you make the day OK for yourself? What do you wish someone else would do for you?

Moms who aren't single on Mothers' Day, what do you enjoy about the day? What do you wish were different?

(Remember that to comment anonymously, just put in a fake email or URL.)