Mom-101: The F Word, I have decided to weigh in on the discussion from a slightly different perspective.
There is something that doesn't happen enough, in my humble opinion, in the world and on mommy blogs -- mine especially: The extolling of virtues of those behind the scenes -- namely daycare providers -- who are helping us raise our children and ensuring that feminism flourishes.
I'd like to introduce you to Lori, our baby's stay-at-home-mom. Annabel calls her "Yaya," while I often refer to her as "the babysitter" in this blog. I always wince before writing "the babysitter," because it's not a word that aptly describes what she does for our family, and most especially for what she does for Annabel. She is the reason I am able to work, retain health insurance and keep my sanity. She is a friend, a mother and I just can't imagine her NOT being in our lives.
This is our story:
When I was five months pregnant this woman -- the wife of my husband's friend and someone I only knew in passing -- told me she was unhappy in her job. She knew I was planning on returning to work, and she had been praying for God to guide her. She was leaning toward the idea that her path was leading to me. She was thinking she would want to take care of our child when I eventually went back to work.
I was silent. I knew her family enough to know that in addition to raising two beautiful girls, she had also suffered the death of a child and a late-term miscarriage. I knew her as an intelligent, eneregetic, ethusiastic and empathetic mom who loved Disney World and Christmas stories and public television. I knew, without question, that having this woman provide daycare for my baby would be the best of all possible scenarios. Even, I am ashamed to admit, if one of those scenarios included me being the at-home mommy.
But I couldn't ask her to give up a CAREER to watch MY baby. That was something, I told myself, she would have to decide.
For the next four months, neither of us mentioned the conversation.
Once the baby came, she visited bestowing gifts. She looked sad and didn't seem interested in getting too close. So, I began calling around for placements. There were none to be had. I began to realize that even if I could find a facility willing to take on my child I wouldn't get a choice. I couldn't leave my daughter with a stranger much less the only place willing to take her at that.
I called Lori seeking the name of a woman her husband had previously recommended; a woman whom he and Lori had used when their own children were small. She was silent. A long pause, and then quietly she asked me if I had given any thought to what we had talked about way back when.
I nearly cried.
Turns out neither of us had thought of much else since that conversation, but each had so much hope invested in the prospect that we couldn't even let words escape us. Even I - the heathen - have to admit that devine intervention cannot be ruled out.
Of course there have been struggles. There are religious and political differences as well as occasional communications break downs, but nothing that I would call outside of the normal 'family' growing pains.
I can even say with complete honesty that I haven't once been jealous of Annabel's love for Lori. I am grateful for it. She is another strong, independent woman for Annabel to admire and an inspiration for her mother to model.
When we first started this endeavor I told Lori I thought about this arrangement as "women helping women." Now I'm telling you fine folks, I couldn't have been more right. Two years and one month later, I just want to say thank you to Lori for being in our lives.
Note: How cool is this? Mom-101 nominated this as one of her picks for best post of April. Thank you, but I'm a little verklempt. Please, talk amongst yourselves.