Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Baby Days of Spring Semester

My grandmother talks about "the dog days of summer" - those days where it's so hot nothing seems to get done.

Well, I'm having the "baby days of spring semester."  Baby G. is getting more active by the minute, and I even think she's at the beginning of doing some teething (!), so that it's more difficult to get writing done.  I do still have that book manuscript due: I think I'll have to start moonlighting to get drafts done.  Typing one-handed was hard enough, but typing with a squirmy baby is much tougher.  My maternity leave also ended on Tuesday, so I'm back at work doing administrative tasks.  Most of these are being done at home, though I do get into the office for a brief meeting here and there (and bring the baby, of course).  Hard to do that during these "baby days" as well.

It isn't just that Baby G. is more active that makes things harder to do, of course.  The day care center called last week and said, "We have a spot for your baby in May."  "I'd rather wait till August."  "In August, she'd be too old to enter with the incoming baby class and therefore you wouldn't have a spot till she's two."

Hmmm.  For those of you fortunate enough not to deal with day care, let me translate. The day care center tries to keep a balance of younger and older babies.  They have twelve spots in the younger baby room (6 weeks to 12 months) and twelve spots in the older baby room (12 months to 24 months).  The babies rotate in groups at the appropriate time (they move in May, August and January) so that there's always an incoming class of younger babies, and always a like-numbered group moving up to the older baby room.  Since the total number of spots available for babies stays the same, the only way to get a spot if you don't rotate in early is for someone else to drop out.  Guess how often THAT mythical experience happens? So that's why in May, Baby G. is good to go at five months, but in August at eight months would be unable to go.****

I didn't know all this initially and so was quite taken aback.  I want to stay home with Baby G. till August, and I can do so because I'm on contract till May 15th (I'm presuming I'll be offered another contract that starts again in August ;-)): she'll be more independent of me then because she'll likely have started solids and by that time, I'll be screaming ready to get out of the house and teach some college students.  That's how it was with L. anyway.  I stayed home with her for nine months and was glad to spend the time but equally glad to get back to work.

I thought briefly about other options - I know of a couple other day care places that could probably take Baby G in August.   But the upsides of this day care are that it is on my work campus, L's preschool is there, and it's a close walk or drive from my house.  All good.  Other day cares are 20 minutes' drive one way in the opposite direction.  I had that experience the first year I went back to work - the 1.5 hour commute to get L to day care was not conducive to much family life at all.  You can probably imagine yourselves how much better our lives have been as a family once we could cut that drive out of the equation.

I feel somehow like I'm robbing Baby G. of some time if I send her to day care in May - she'll still be nursing pretty much full time even if she's on solids.  And I'm not sure I'll quite be ready to let her go.

 I know, it's the conundrum every mom faces anyway, and I'm very fortunate not to have to face it as soon as most moms in the US.  The likely thing we'll do is pay for May but hold off on actually putting her in day care till late June.

Still, the fact that time is swiftly running away from us makes me want to hold on to these baby days all the more.

****This is roughly the way I understand it. The director told me about all the quid pro quos too, which seemed to amount to: "SOME older babies will get in in August, but not yours."   So the upshot is, it's all way complicated, involving waiting lists and other sundry info and it doesn't really work the neat way I described above.  Ah well. This is why I am not a director of a day care center (God bless her) and I'm quite sure I'd have a hard time dealing with parents exactly like me ;-)


  1. My daughter was born 11/29, so I had 9 months (mostly) with her as well. And have lost a deposit or two to a preschool that I decided wasn't quite a fit... and had my nanny quit 7 days before my semester back started.
    Childcare is so hard.