Wednesday 28 November 2018

Saying goodbye to part of the village

In the morning I’m going to give notice to AJ’s daycare that December will be her last month there. And I feel.......sad.

This is my meditation on a very important part of our story.

AJ has been part time at her daycare since April. We didn’t want to disrupt her routine too much with the new baby’s arrival, so we kept her enrolled. Plus AJ got to maintain her friendships  and have somewhere to go when Dani was very small and I was occupied with her. It worked out well. I did some mom and baby classes with Dani. She also has been a pretty easy baby so I listened to a lot of podcasts while folding laundry and putting away dishes.

But Dani is bigger now, and able to play with AJ and have a relationship. She is awake and alert for most of our activities. Plus my employment insurance payments end in January and part time daycare is still quite expensive. Instead of preschool I decided to enroll AJ in a few activities. It’s a chance for her to try some different things and see what she likes, plus continue to participate in a structured environment. 

AJ will start kindergarten in the fall, though we don’t yet know where. I will most likely be returning to work. It’s half a day so we will need a childcare situation where she is walked or driven to school. (A whole new can of worms.) Her current daycare doesn’t transport so she can’t stay there; she will have to “graduate” before September. In terms of finances and opportunities to spend time as a family it seems like the best idea to withdraw her now.

But I’m sad about the ending of an era. And more than takes a village to raise a child they say, and AJ’s daycare is part of our village.

Mr Turtle and I kind of flaked out in our childcare search when AJ was a baby. We only toured and went on the wait list at one centre, and we found out AJ had a spot one month before I went back to work. Luckily it worked out.

The first year of being a working mom wasn’t easy for me. I had to adjust to a new job, the working parent gig, and my dad getting sick and dying in the first months.  I did alright at my job but I wasn’t fantastic. I didn’t easily make new relationships at the new school and that has continued to impact on how I feel about my job, although it got better. It’s kind of a cliche that working moms often feel they are trying to do everything and doing none of it well, although we are probably too hard on ourselves most of the time. But I didn’t understand how that felt until I lived it. When you’ve based your self image on being first among equals, or at least second or third or some respectable ranking, it’s hard to adjust to different priorities. Like keeping your head above water.

Leaving AJ at her daycare, I would always feel like I was leaving a piece of my heart and brain behind. It really did feel like I lost several IQ points. I didn’t cry all the time but sometimes I did. Again, it slowly got better. But through all of this, we could trust that AJ was in good hands and that she would come home happy (and sleep through the night). I don’t know if I can adequately express how important that was.

She made good friends at her daycare, which we called first “baby school” and then “preschool” when she was no longer a baby, or just “school.” Some of her friends have already moved on; some are still attending with her.

I met my best friend at the moment (also an infertility/loss mama) through the daycare. Her son no longer attends but we live in the neighbourhood and see each other often. Although my track record is not great, I am really going to try to build and maintain relationships with the other families of her friends in the next few months.

AJ would come home with stories to tell of what she had learned at school and it was wonderful to see her not just passing the time but thriving. I can honestly say I don’t feel like I “missed out” on her development by being at work. That’s amazing, as it was a big fear. But last December I did forget to attend her Christmas party. I meant to then I got distracted by lesson planning and shopping. Oh geez I felt so guilty about that and I still kinda do. I will definitely go this year!

AJ started out in the baby room, moved up through the toddler and preschool rooms. She grew in awareness of her own growing up. She was mentored by the big girls and now she is a big girl.

I have to admit, it does feel like AJ is outgrowing the place. I think she feels it too. 

It’s still sad to say goodbye. We do have Dani waitlisted so there is a chance we might be back, but I don’t know for sure....this could be goodbye for good.

I read about this idea on the internet. You have all your child’s teachers over the years sign a copy of Dr Seuss’s book “Oh the places you’ll go” and then at age 18 you give it to them as a graduation gift. It tickled my fancy, so I ordered the book. And this month, AJ’s daycare teachers will be the first to sign it.

Sometimes the passage of time fills me with a kind of existential terror. How can the concerns of the future so quickly become the issues of the present and then the stories told of the past? Is there not something horrifying about following our daily routines like life depends on them (it does) only to realize one day they have faded into irrelevance and a whole new life is waiting? 

Then I hear a whisper on the wind. There’s  another word for that terror: opportunity.

I’ll end on a light hearted note. I’ve been talking to AJ quite a bit over the past year about how she will “graduate,” to get her used to the idea. Of course she asks what her next school will be, but I don’t know yet what to tell her. One day after thinking about it, she said, “I will go to Dark Path.”

I was puzzled. “What do you mean, you are going on a dark path?” AJ can be a bit dark at times, but this sounded ominous.

“After BrightPath, I’m going to DarkPath,” she clarified.

Well of course. Her daycare is called BrightPath; naturally the next step is Dark Path.

She’s going to be just fine.

Monday 19 November 2018

5 years reflections: This is our family

AJ drew this picture of our family last week:

She writes nice A’s, doesn’t she? She can kinda write her name now too. The X’s are some sort of protective barrier, as far as I can understand.

It all looks so right. I might have to put this picture on a celebratory cake.

Friday 16 November 2018

Dani 9+ months, and family adventures

Happy days....Dani is 9 and a half months. AJ is four years old.

Many changes since we got back from our vacation to visit family last month. Dani was almost crawling at the end of October, and now she is crawling everywhere. She also wants to walk with support lately.

She chatters and chatters in her baby language.   She giggles at people especially big sister. The interactivity is so fun. Although she has been a part of our family for most of the year, I feel like a Dani shaped consciousness truly joined us in the past month. She smiles and laughs so much and she loves to make friends by grinning and babbling  at people. When she is very happy her face crumples up like she can’t fit all the smile into it. Dani likes mom best when she is tired and grumpy (lucky me)  but when she is happy she likes all kinds of people. She got along very well with my ex pat in-laws in the USA.

The flights to and from the states went well. Dani slept most of the first flight and then wanted to be in my lap for the shorter second flight. On the way home she didn’t want to sleep. She passed the time twerking in my lap, stealing my snacks and yanking out the headphone jack. I was grateful to sit next to an understanding gentleman who betrayed no discomfort when she fussed or I breastfed somewhat awkwardly in close quarters (Mr Turtle and AJ were in the row ahead). The worst part was the seriously bad turbulence coming into our city. The plane was bouncing around like a yo-yo and Dani screamed whenever I tried to put her back in her seat, which we paid for precisely for such a situation. I was watching the flight monitor, trying to rationalize myself out of sheer terror, counting the minutes till it was over. I did finally get her into the seat and oddly enough, the pilot (a lady, ha) performed the softest landing I have ever experienced. I could barely tell when we touched the ground. 

AJ was a model traveller. So proud of her. My mom bought her a suitcase as a birthday present and she loved it. She rolled it on her own for most of both trips, including the late night arrivals when we were all tired. I made her a big grab bag of activities for the plane and airport ($20 at the dollar store went a long way) and between that and the inflight movies she was happy. We also did a travel journal where I asked her to tell me what we did every day and I wrote it down so she has a memory of the trip (though at the moment I’m not sure where it is.....probably still in the activity bag which should be good to go for our next trip.)

Other firsts for Danika this month include eating more finger foods, sitting up on her own, and showing more emotions including frustration. For example she really doesn’t like it when she finds a prize on the floor such as one of her sister’s endless collection of stickers and I take it away instead of letting her chew on it. 

Speaking of chewing, two bottom teeth and one top one just cutting, which may account for her more restless nights lately. 

The interrupted sleep plus shorter days and colder temperatures have been making it harder to motivate myself to do things, especially during the week when I’m alone. Sometimes it’s after 3 by the time I get out of the house. We also went to a bunch of parties after getting back from vacation. I’m very grateful but I had the urge to be a hermit afterwards, and now I have to try not to let it become a habit. Also having less disposable income I second guess going to concerts or things like that, because how do I pick one over another, and  then I give up on making a decision and we end up going to nothing. 

Anyway, winter is long so I’m not going to let this go on forever. AJ’s party was a success, so that’s good. It went as expected: two hours of kids playing on bouncy castle and eating cupcakes, then home to our nice quiet house (our kids fell asleep; I hope other parents were as lucky).  I am looking forward to Christmas and happy to see bright lights and decorations on the long winter evenings (though I still think it’s tooooo early for Christmas music).

I’m using the carrier more with Dani as I anticipate snow making it more difficult to use the stroller. Unfortunately the mei tai doesn’t do front facing but it still is working pretty well. We also have an underused chariot / jogger and I want to get the flat tire fixed as I think it will be handy in snow and cold conditions. Thinking of introducing AJ to cross country skiing this year. If we have anything resembling the insane amount of snow we had last year I think I will also get snow shoes!

I will end with this Halloween picture. The dress is a hand me down from AJ. The furry object are black bear ears Dani refused to wear. (Her nickname is Dani bear so she had to be a bear for her first Halloween. I was also a bear. AJ was a T. rex again and Mr Turtle was also a T. rex.)