Thursday, November 8, 2007

Women Are Fantastic Friday

My friend Sophie over at A Hole in the Fence came up with Women are Fantastic Friday. And I think this is a fabulous idea. (Sophie, I could not get the html to work to save my life, but I hope I've linked appropriately.)

I've been thinking about this for a while. I have been thinking about all the wonderful women who have been caregivers for my children over the years.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that they came into my life by chance. They were sent by God. That may sound a little melodramatic or overwrought, but it is true. All of these women came into my life at a perfect time and they were all angels in my eyes.

Before Bubba was born I had already scoped out a daycare. In my mind there was no doubt that I would go back to work. Financially I didn't think we had a choice. About a three weeks before I was supposed to go back to work, I went to scope out the daycare ONE MORE TIME. There was a young girl taking some of the older kids out to the playground and she yelled at them to COME ON. It was such a harsh tone that she used. (In her defense, it is a tone that I have now used with my kids many, many times and it is drawn out of me by dawdling and whining). But at the time I was horrified. I could not leave my child there.

So, I called my boss and quit my job. And then I panicked and called him back and said wellll, maybe I wouldn't quit, but could we work something out? He was willing to let me work two days a week. But what in the world was I going to do with Bubba two days a week? Those of you with kids in daycare know that most facilities won't let you do part time. I was screwed.

And then came Dwan. I actually met Dwan in my postpartum depression support group, if you can believe it. She had two kids, a two year old and an almost one year old, and she and her husband had been living in separate towns while he looked for work in Savannah. It was hard on her, to say the least. There were only two of us in our group, so we bonded kind of quickly. I was talking about my dilemma in the group and she offered to keep Bubba for me.

The situation was ideal because she lived just around the corner from my office. I could go to her house at lunch and nurse Bubba and then she gave him my pumped milk during the rest of the day. During this time Dwan also started a playgroup that became my lifeline in those early days. We met every other week and some of those girls became some of my closest mom friends.

Eventually, finances forced Dwan to go back to work and I ended up putting Bubba in a traditional daycare. He was eight months old by this time and I was over my new mom jitters (a little). I found a new daycare in town and he quickly became the favorite of Ms. Rasheeda. She loved him like he was her own and she always called "My Bubba." Every day when we went to school Ms. Rasheeda lit up like the sun when Bubba came in.

The day that we took Bubba out of the school to move up here, Ms. Rasheeda just cried and cried and truthfully, so did I. We still talk about Ms. Rasheeda to this day and that was almost 4 years ago.

When Punkin was born things were very different. Financially we were struggling a little and I couldn't afford to put her in the same daycare with Bubba and there was no way I could stay home. I actually started answering ads in the paper for "Qualified Caregivers." I made several appointments that I ended up canceling just because of weird feelings I got while talking to these women on the phone.

There was one, Denise, that lived very close to our house, so I made an appointment and one day on my lunch went out to visit. I knocked on the door and a young woman opened up, looked at me and said "Are you Madame Queen? Did you go to XYZ High School?"

"Yes, I am and I did." And lo and behold I had gone to high school with this woman! Denise graduated when I was a freshman, but I knew her younger brother very well. Again, God delivered an angel.

And she truly was an angel. She loved Punkin' as much as I did and her two young daughters doted on Punkin so much that I never had to worry that she lacked for attention. She care for Punkin from the time she was 8 weeks old until she was almost a year old. When we moved to our current house it was too much of a commute for me to have her continue to keep Punkin', though I tried for over a month. Eventually I had to deliver the bad news. And she cried. And I cried. And her daughters wouldn't even come out of their rooms. Punkin' left there before she was even a year old and it breaks my heart that she will have no memory of this wonderful woman who cared for her and loved her every day.

And finally, there is Lauren. Lauren had been my back up sitter for a little while. I met Lauren initially through a local mother's group and I put out a call that I needed a back up sitter one for the Friday after Thanksgiving. When Denise's children had dentist appointments or if she was out of town, Lauren was there for me. And when ultimately we decided that I could no longer make the commute to Denise's, Lauren was there for me again. She kept Punkin 5 days a week, in addition to her own two at home and she was fantastic. So patient (more than I am, that's for sure!). And they were always on the go -- to the Library, to the Park -- always keeping Punkin's mind active and doing exactly the kinds of things I would do if I could have stayed home with her. And she loved Punkin' too. And Punkin' loved her and her family (and their dog -- Punkin' even named one of her stuffed dogs after Lauren's dog!). A lot of big life changes ultimately led us to put Punkin' in the same daycare as Bubba, but we still see Lauren and her family on a fairly regular basis. But now Lauren and her family are moving. And although we are excited for them, we are sad for us because now they won't be just right down the road and we won't run into them at Wal-Mart on Saturday mornings!

I'm leaving out a lot of wonderful women who work in my children's schools, but the women above are the women who stand out in my mind. These are the women who made a difference in my life. Because they cared for and loved MY children like their own, I had peace of mind. That is a wonderful gift. And for that I thank you.


AndreAnna said...

That was such a lovely post. I also got lucky with our daycare situation. charlotte goes to a dayhome two days a week - a family style in-home preschool. There are only 3 other kids and I am grateful everyday for my arrangement. Charlotte loves her "Shell" (michele) and is happy to see her everyday and I know she is safe and happy.

And I, too, would cry if we ever had to leave.

Lauren said...

Im so touched! Thank you so much for including me in your's made my whole day. And I feel just as lucky having been able to take care of Punkin'...she felt like one of my children (and also gave me the confidence to take on 3 kids of my own!)

I'm going to miss our meetings at the grocery store too (somehow always in the baby food aisle?!) but we'll probably still have to come back for trips to the wally...and we definitely want y'all to come over and play once we move!

Karen said...

Isn't it great to have such wonderful people brought into our lives? Your children are blessed.

Esme said...

What a wonderful tribute to these women in your life... I hope there's a way for them to read this and know how much they are loved and appreciated! I can see why you call them angels...

Colleen said...

that was truly a sweet post. we've just been very lucky to have a great daycare facility with great teachers that now care for Cooper that used to care for Gavin in the past three years.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

That was really sweet! So far I only have one really special caregiver for my daughter. Her name is Shell and if she ever leaves our daycare, I'm pulling my kid. I don't know what I'll do, but she really is what makes the place perfect.

All Adither said...

Wow, lucky you. I've gone through a series of college girls. Most of them have been great, but I've come across a few stinkers.

Lulu said...

What a sweet post!

I went through similar events when Gus was a young child. It's so taxing trying to find a caregiver that you can trust and that will take care of your child like their own. Gus eventually ended up in daycare as well and did just fine.

However, the most difficult part is when they get too old to go to daycare, yet a little too young to stay at home by themselves. It's a neverending childcare saga...

Sophie said...

I'm honored that you picked up the meme, Madame Queen. I'm so sorry that I haven't been able to read it until today (things at work are really terrible right now. They should be better next week.)

What a wonderful idea for a WAFF post - what would we do without the caregivers in our life? And you write beautifully, too, Madame Queen. I love reading your posts.

So, may I add it to my WAFF page? I've got a collection of these great posts going.