Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winter in PDX

Let's start with an update. Ollin is doing a crab-crawl, with one leg tucked under and one leg extended, and it looks like this is his chosen crawl method, not a phase. He says "dog" and "cat" which is interesting because we have neither. There are pets at his nanny share house, and we see them frequently on walks. His new loves are going to the dog park, all animal noises, pulling up on the things, flipping through big-people books and fanning the pages, finding everything we haven't babyproofed yet, his papa's kisses and games, waving, and the "little toy house" his grandma made that matches the one in "Goodnight Moon" (well, it's actually way cooler, but he makes the connection).

I have been grappling with work and mom-hood, still. I did not find an easy replacement for the job that I put more than six years of investment into. I think my biggest justification is that starting a new job is just as or more stressful than keeping this one going, since I'm already into it and know how to do it.  Also, I mostly like my job, like the challenge, and I like fulfilling my commitments and I like the continuity in my career record (not taking a leave of absence in the middle of the year). I decided to get through these next five months and take a leave of absence next year, giving myself ample time to plan for a different type of job that allows me to be home more days a week. I think. A benefit to making it till June is that then I have three months of a paycheck without needing to go to work or pay for childcare. I think it's worth it. Now just to get through the next five months....

The childcare search has  been quite a process. For the last four or five months, we have been sharing a nanny with another family, going to their house, which is on my way to work, and Ollin has a buddy a few months older than him to play and giggle and get along with. They have great fun. There are a few annoying dogs. Ollin loves them (hence, his first word). Our nanny is amazing; a trained doula, future massage therapist, mother, and expert at taking care of children. But because of all these qualities, she is moving on. We need a new caregiver. (Also, she's been sick, on-call and otherwise indisposed more than I expected, so I'm basically out of emergency leave.)

I worked for a while with the other mother, Robin, to find a new nanny to share. We interviewed countless people (or I could count them if I felt like it). Some got other jobs, some flaked, some needed more money, etc. Some couldn't hack it with two babies. We realized how amazing our nanny is. I began going slowly crazy (or realizing my slow decline). It's been such a pain in the ass to haul O into the car every morning with all his gear, milk, bottles, food, diapers, my pump, ice packs for milk, enough food for a breastfeeding mama's metabolism, oh, and work materials. I inevitably forget something. I drag him out of the house just before his natural nap time, and pick him up again just before he would otherwise go to sleep. I try to keep him happy for 20 minutes of driving each way. If I stop to get groceries or something after picking him up, we get home almost as late as if I were working full time. I don't feel good at my job. My students are more challenging this year, and I have not been giving them proper feedback regarding their progress. I usually plan a good lesson on my way to work while multitasking, but there's very little follow up. And I'm tired. 

So, we are hiring someone to take care of O in our home. It will be 100 times easier than schlepping him across town. I think we found someone. She is young, kind, alternative, and trainable. She's no doula-massage-double-baby-whisperer, but she's someone who will probably follow my instructions and make a strong connection with O. If she can't get him to sleep, she'll just take him for a long walk. But now we're back to the money issue. There's no sharing the cost of her, so now my paycheck after childcare is so much less that the question returns: is it even worth it for me to work?