Early on it was the MOST stressful part of my parenting experience other than my kids getting sick, which, you can ask my friends, we had plenty of (how many nebulizers can one family own?) I agonized each time over leaving my infants with anyone other than me. The first baby, particularly, was difficult. We were new parents, learning how to do this thing called 'parenting'; three short months later, maternity leave was over and someone had to watch this baby.
In the midst of the exhaustion and shock of having this newborn, new daddy and I got to seek daycare. There were fancy agencies to find you the best nanny (for hundreds of dollars to register), you could risk taking out an ad in the newspaper and pray for Mary Poppins, or you could get on a waiting list at a day care center. The internet was not yet at our fingertips, thus no Craig's List, Sitter City or any other form of www.
For some reason, once we finally hired someone they were short-termers. I want to believe that it was because I was part-time and that was a harder niche to fill (rather than my kids were bratty). Remember the show Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen where each episode she had a new secretary? That was the story of our day care - we went through about twelve babysitters in half as many years. I wish I could tell you how many times I called my husband after walking in the house on a Thursday evening to say "she quit again".
Then we found M. M saved us; not only did she love my kids, but she added stability to our somewhat chaotic home, the best being when she got fed up with my linen closet she would re-fold all the towels. M worked for us for six years and raised my youngest (we often wonder who my youngest is really asking for when she calls "mommy"). M is part of our family, so much so that when she announced her pregnancy, my husband said "we are going to be grandparents", and her three year old now proudly calls me "Gramma Yorie".
I wish I could say that after M left us for a full-time job that our headaches were gone. Sure, as my kids got older, the fear of leaving them became less. They could speak and keep me abreast of what was going on at home while I was busily seeing clients. But, I still had to find someone that was responsible, kind and was a careful driver (I long since gave up on laundry or linen closet maintenance).
I found myself today paying, again, for Sitter City. Luckily, I have already had a phone interview with a college student looking for some after-school work. Can I trust her, will the kids like her, will she be able to find the dance studio where kid #3 spends most of her time?
I think of all the new moms embarking on this journey that I have travelled so many times. I can feel their anxiety and fears in my stomach as my own; for I have been there and know their struggle. I have had many clients in this spot and have been grateful that I could fully empathize with them.
For anyone that is on the quest for the right day care, particularly as the school year starts, please know that I GET IT. Your fears, your tears and your worries are valid and normal; I would be happy to share them with you if you need, feel free to contact me.