That sentence, that sentence above is what I texted to a friend on my first day at my new job. I think I had been there all of three hours yet already I found myself sweaty, exhausted, and with a cup of coffee I desperately needed going cold on the counter because I hadn’t yet had the chance to sit down and take a sip.
My new bosses are…crazy. First of all it’s like Office Space and I have three. Three. They issue contradictory instructions, their communication skills need work and even having been there for only a few days I’ve already witnessed some infighting as they strive to establish some sort of pecking order.
Ok I can’t keep up this cutesy facade any longer – my bosses are babies, guys! Like, literally babies. Well, toddlers to be exact.
Let’s back up a bit.
When we decided to move to Edmonton, the process of finding work and childcare for Olive was really stressing me out. The thought of putting her in daycare left me heartbroken, but, like most modern families, we simply don’t have the luxury of subsisting solely on one income. I had always hoped to stay home to raise our children, but I mean I’d always hoped to rock blunt bangs too, and sometimes one has to accept that reality looks different than you had initially imagined. Life happens, you know?
(Life, and an awkward cowlick, that is.)
Although I know many families use them and love them and I do really enjoy the opportunity for socialization that daycare can offer, I really didn’t want to put O in one. The thought of dropping her off somewhere each morning to spend her day with strangers who don’t love her like I do made my heart ache. And beyond that lay the sheer logistics of the thing. What comes first, the daycare or the job? What if I got daycare all lined up and then my job didn’t start for another month and a half? What if I found my dream job but couldn’t get her into a daycare we felt comfortable with? Thinking about it was stressful and confusing, and I had sort of hit a wall with where to start.
Then, serendipity. I was speaking with a dear friend of mine, a mother to two children. She was returning back to work in early April after a year long maternity leave. She too was debating childcare options and we were commiserating about the stress of finding some place that we felt our children would be loved, respected and safe, and she happened to say something along the lines of, “I wish you could just look after them.” I sighed and said, “I know.”
And then I thought, “Wait- why couldn’t I just look after them?”
I’d get to be with Olive every day, and earn a bit of an income, too. I wouldn’t have to put her in daycare. She would still get to play with little buddies each day, and my friend would know that her children were loved, respected, and safe. It seemed perfect.
But just like blunt-cut bangs, reality can sometimes look a little different. I think I had imagined some sort of Von Trapp situation (the coordinating clothes and the obedience, I mean…not the Nazi’s). I mean damn, people! Damn this shit is for real!
There are three of them, and one of me. Three toddlers: a one-year old nicknamed Snuggy Boy, Olive (eighteen-months), and a three-year old I shall call Queen Elsa in homage to her favourite movie, one I have not yet seen but I suspect I shall gradually begin to absorb through the scientific process of osmosis.
The days are LONG. And tiring. And filled to the brim with poop, and wiping half-chewed food spattered on the floor, and me repeating inane sentences I never thought I’d find myself saying. Things like “Only gentle with other babies. Show me your gentle hands!” and “That’s not how we ask for things. Say ‘Put a Queen Elsa braid in my hair please.'” and “Are you pooping? Who’s pooping?! SOMEONE IS POOPING! WHO’S THE POOPER? WOULD THE POOPER PLEASE IDENTIFY HIM OR HERSELF IMMEDIATELY?”
I love it.
I love it because it affords me the ability to be with Olive every day, which is more important to me than anything. I get to see kids whom I love like they were family grow and evolve and become best friends with my daughter. As much as I love it however, it’s also (already) incredibly challenging. Mothers everywhere know that the work you do with children, while hard, isn’t at all stimulating or cerebral. It is rote, and monotonous, and repetitive. Days necessarily have to have a rhythm and a routine and this can make them all sort of blend into each other as you go through the process of preparing food, feeding food, cleaning up after food, putting jackets on, going outside, coming inside, taking jackets off, diapering and wiping and refereeing spats and then preparing food, feeding food…and on and on. Rinse and repeat.
At the end of the day if the house looks the same as it did and the kids do too, you count it as a success. We are all adjusting, these three little creatures and I, and although my expectations for this first week have been embarrassingly low, I am happy to say that I – WE!- are exceeding them! The children are happy and play well together, I have only overdosed on coffee once, we have even left the house once or twice! Olive gets to excited to go see her little friends in the morning, and I can’t wait to see the friendships that are formed by these three being so close.
Once we are more settled here in this here Big City I plan on contacting a few social service agencies so I can volunteer with them once or twice a month as a way of keeping my hand in, because if I ever do decide to work with teens again – barring an incredible leap to bestselling-author, super-famous “Don’t you know who I am?!” status, that is – it will come in handy to have a few contacts, and a bit of current experience under my belt.
In the meantime I have the good fortune of seeing three children grow and negotiate the world around them each day. I am so happy that we found a way to make this happen, and happy too that it’s a situation that benefits both me, and my friend, too. I think that informal/unconventional childcare arrangements like this can be a real saving grace for everyone involved.
And really, who else can say that one of their bosses brushed their hair for ten full minutes while proclaiming it “Bootifuww”, while the other two took turns chewing on a dog? (No one, I hope, good god seriously no one.)
I’m livin’ the dream, y’all! Livin’ the dream. Except now I keep thinking about those bangs…