Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Plus ca change, plus ca meme at the car wash

There are some things that we do now that will end when 3B gets here, and some that will continue, but maybe change a little bit, and some that will stay the same.

One of the things that will end, for awhile anyway, is our weekly trip to doggie daycare. We started taking Barky when we found out that he was barking for, oh, nine hours a day while we were out. We called the vet just to ensure that nothing physical was wrong with him. (It later turned out that a failing carbon monoxide detector was randomly going off during the day, driving him bonkers. Now he's hypersensitive to any beeps--the microwave, the washer and dryer, and even the waffle iron.) The vet referred us to a behaviorist, who recommended some training techniques for us, tiring him out, and giving him more of a social life. Doggie daycare met those last two needs, so off he went for many days in a row, tapering off to our current once-a-week schedule.

Yeah, somewhere along the way our life became a sitcom.

While we're at home, however, there's no need to take him to daycare, so those trips will end. We may, however, still be taking regular trips to daycare, depending on what we do about work. We're sure that I'm going back to work after taking about a month off, and then working several part-time weeks, but we haven't decided about Mama.

I think that both of us, as we were further from 3B's arrival were more set on one parent staying at home with our baby for the first year or so. At that time, both of us were just starting on our career paths, so we weren't sure who would be better suited to staying at home. I'm happy to say that we've both moved along in our careers at about the same pace, so we've both advanced, but we're in the same equal position when it comes to staying at home.

As we get closer to 3B's arrival, however, both of us are talking more about Mama going back to work fairly soon. She has three months of paid maternity leave, and she can stack her accrued leave on top of that, staying home for four months. But will she, or 3B, be ready for her to go back to work then?

There's no way for us to know, but to make it possible, we would need to reserve a spot at a daycare, since they tend to book up a year in advance around here. Yes, you have to reserve a spot before you're pregnant, if you hope to get your kid in daycare anytime close to birth. So, we've missed that opportunity, but we could probably work something out if Mama decides that she wants to go back to work, which is something that I'm more in favor of the more I think about it.

After all, I didn't love my Dad any less than my Mom, even though he worked throughout my life. Why would 3B love Mama any less just because she works? Wouldn't that mean that he will love me less than Mama if I work and she doesn't? That just doesn't seem possible.

And Mama is deeply gratified by her work--as she should be; the programs that she works on save thousands, if not millions of women and children from disease and death every year. I know that 3B will mean more to her than anything or anyone (sorry, Barky), but I think that she can still enjoy that relationship and get the gratification that working brings her without endangering 3B's development, personality, or enjoyment of life.

If that's the case, why shouldn't we both work?

Then the question becomes, when should Mama go back to work? That might be partially answered by logistics, depending on what we're able to arrange on short notice. I think we both want to get on a daycare waiting list in case she does go back, but we've both been too busy and forgetful to do that. Anybody out there have any ideas? Experience? Know anybody else who has an opinion, some experience, a big mouth? Send 'em on over here to tell us what to do. (No guarantees that we'll pay attention, of course, but we do want to hear what's worked and what hasn't.)

Both of us going back to work would leave us with a slightly changed event in our life--going to daycare to drop off 3B, rather than Barky, which would involve a little less explanation every time we said it:

"Gotta go. Gotta get to daycare."

"Picking up the kid today, eh?"

"No, the dog, actually."

(Mametesque pause.) "Oh."
The one thing that won't change is our crazy hound, pictured above. After we scooped him up at daycare today, we stopped to get gas and decided it was time for our biannual car wash. I ponied up the extra buckage at the pump and we rolled into the magic garage, all of which Barky slept through. As soon as the water hit the car, however, he was on full alert, as you can see. Had the car seat not been in place, he would have been walking circles in one of our laps. He did have a hard time staying gripped because he was so tired from daycare, but he did a fair job of defending the car against the onslaught of clean.

Of course, rather than attempting to calm him--we've learned that assistance is futile--I took pictures of his distress to share. Yeah, it may be best if I'm not the stay-at-home parent, if we go that route.


  1. OK long comment, but it's a big issue for us too:

    I don't think it's an issue of the kid loving one parent more because they are home. I think it's more that the baby is necessarily more dependent on mom, especially if breast feeding. Just like we try to keep newborns warm and in a quiet environment to gently get them used to being out of the womb, in the same way we keep mom close by for as long as possible.

    That said, I have found it depends on the kid. Hunt progeny #1 still resists the concept of even part time daycare, at 3 1/2 years, though he might not have a choice sometime soon. Progeny #2 is much more independent and would probably be totally OK with full time daycare even though she's a year younger than #1.

    I believe very young kids need a daily rhythm, a homelike atmosphere, and not a lot of intellectual stimulation. They need firm but loving direction, some structure but not too much, and play play play!

    My advice would be to honor Mama's need to continue her work, and find a very stable daycare environment. Having the same caregiver consistently will help 3B feel secure while Mama and Papa aren't there. Also go to the daycare site several times (even unannounced, some people say) so that you can see how you feel about the people there. Nothing worse than having to leave your baby with someone you don't feel good about.

    The timing of Mama's return to work is something you won't know until you see how 3B, Mama and Papa feel about it.

  2. Wise words.

    That it depends on each of our personalities and how we interact has been a major factor in our delay.

    We get to a certain point and say, "Yeah, but what if he. . .? Or we. . .?"

    I think we need to push past that to at least have a few options, so whichever way things go with him or us, we have some choices.

    This is just the beginning of the fun, isn't it?

  3. Maybe you can find a daycare that takes dogs, too?? I should start a business like that...I'll be in charge of the doggy side, of course, and my partner can handle the baby business.

    Mama's lucky to be so fulfilled by her job. Even though I don't want kids, every time I see a stay-at-home mom I die inside a little bit of total jealousy. My job is THAT unimportant and I want to not work that bad. And hey, without the kids around, staying at home would be sweet! Think of all of sleeping I could get accomplished. Boyfriend's not exactly on board with that plan though. I can't imagine why!