Monday, October 1, 2012

What the WHAT...?

So much to tell, so little time to type...

In the past several months, we have faced the possible loss of my job, the impending job change for Monkey Doodle Daddy, health issues for both girls, and the loss of first our main caregiver for Monkey and our backup, her sister, who stepped in for just this summer.

We have been FREAKING BUSY, and in the trenches, taking mortar shells, dangit!! Plus it was summer, and nine zillion degrees, and summer in Financial Aid Land means you have to schedule potty breaks into your Outlook calendar or it will be 4:30 and you realize you last went like, 10 hours ago. So there was also all that mess. Holy schmoley.

The short version: I did NOT lose my job, though it was looking iffy for a bit there. I tucked my tail between my legs, fessed up to my shortcomings and took my lumps. Like a grownup, even. And miraculously...moved past it.

Monkey's main baby sitter is a very close friend, whom I've known forever. I used to babysit HER when she was a kid, along with her little sister and brother. (Said "little" brother is now like six foot four.) Well, she got divorced in April and has been doing the "What NOW Math" MDD and I know so well from our own situations. The initial discussion was that in the fall, she would be going back to school. Thus, if we planned to keep Monkey in her same preschool for another year, we'd have to find a way to get her there. Not ideal, but we could swing that.

However, then, out of the blue, she was offered a really sweet job. A FULL TIME job. As in: no more stay-home-mom, and thus, no more super-convenient, just-like-family-nanny for Monkey. But she HAD to take it. She is a single mom now and has her own son to support, and, I can't fault her for taking a great opportunity. But it was a crushing blow to our plans for this year.

Because, on top of that development, our main caregiver's sister (my other surrogate little sister) lost HER job in May and has been home. They were both there for a couple months. However, Sis had already planned to go back to school in the fall and finish her nursing degree. Another can't-miss opportunity to do right by her own kids, after her own divorce...but further closing the door on this chapter in Monkey's care. She was able to take care of Monkey through the summer, but that would have to end once school started in August.

These developments, coupled with my stress/discomfort/extreme Mommy guilt from my own job, had us doing ALL KINDS of speculations.

Should I stay home? COULD I stay home? <Pleasepleaseplease>

Should MDDaddy change jobs? Could he? Does he HAVE to?? We played out all kinds of options.

In one scenario, I was considering swapping places with our caregivers-- between the three women, we have four kids. Someone has to watch them, right? Maybe I, except the math didn't bear that out, and I would've had to be at their house, which negated the benefit of my being home to tend to our domestic chores and what-not. Very sadly, I acquiesced and let that idea go.

The next scenario: could we find someone else who could watch Monkey in that same area, so we could keep her going to the same preschool? The one where her sister went, and we know people, and OMG is any of this going to pan out at all?

Sadly, no. We had to choose tolet go of things that just aren't in the cards right now. We live in one town, the preschool is in another, and our two jobs are in two opposite directions from both of those places.

It so happens I work at a university which has an on-site daycare and preschool. We'd looked into it briefly when I started there, but at the time Monkey was in baby/toddler-land. As any working parent can attest, that means BIG BUCKS for daycare, limited hours, and limited spots. But back then it didn't matter, because we had such a great setup anyway, with our family friends, and cheaper, and more flexible hours... <sigh>

Well, now Monkey is more than two years older. And POTTY TRAINED. Ding ding ding!! So I looked into it, and talked with the director about our scenario. Problem was, it was May, and all the good preschools in Chicagoland book up in like, February... and this one is top notch, in a high-demand area.

So after my brief talk with the director I realized I didn't know the wait list situation. I called just the main desk number for general info, asked about the wait list, I got this lovely answer:

"Oh YES, there IS a list! <Is that a sneer I hear? Yes, sure sounds like one...> It runs, oh, about 18 to 24 months from the time you get on the list to getting a spot."

WHAT THE...WHAT??!!! Did I MISS SOMETHING? What, do people sign up for preschool from the maternity ward or something? <Apparently? Yes. Yes, they actually do. Or even, beforehand. Like, once the stick turns blue, people around here are waitlisting preschools. I am not even kidding. Chicago is weird.>

Heartbroken, I emailed back to the director, again explaining our plight and that we had daycare only until August and if this was not going to happen I needed to know. She asked me to come meet with her and tour the school. Which I thought was kinda mean, if it was just going to be to say, NA NA BOO BOO look what your kid COULD have been doing...

Turns out, I am kind of slow on the uptake. Full-time employees and full-time students get priority placement at the university's preschool. This never even occurred to me. The person I'd spoken to on the phone was giving the generic, pat answer for the general community-at-large. Oh, THANKYOUGOD.

And, folks? This place is IN-FREAKING-CREDIBLE. Hell, *I* want to go there!! Writing stations, and patio gardens, and three playgrounds--including one INDOORS--and field trips, and opportunities to help in menu building and taking part in chapel and Their creative play area alone made Monkey's cute little head spin. It has a loft. It's like a real house, right in the classroom, only smaller and with labels on everything to encourage them to read.

So, we signed her up, starting in August. Which means, she now rides to and from work with me. I hereby get an extra HOUR of one-on-one time with my daughter, right when I was lamenting the fact that our finances couldn't support me being with her full time.

It's a consolation prize, true-- but hey, I will gladly take it. This change also freed up MDD's schedule to address issues with his job. That solidified his idea of moving on to a bigger company where he could earn more. With this preschool booked for Monkey and the hit it puts on my paycheck (which wasn't so fantastic to begin with), the need to offset that increase prompted him to move forward in the application process.

I could write a whole post on that. He's an engineer. Apparently there are companies whose sole purpose is to hunt down engineers who want to change jobs and match them with more jobs. So even when he's happily employed, he still has options because there are people whose entire jobs exist to fish out happily employed engineers and encourage them move on to a new job. I did not realize this even happens, much less in this economy. I'm just saying: Com majors do NOT get such treatment.

And, whaddyaknow? He got the job! And, it's a big raise! Go, Team Doodle!

I am pretty sure there must be some kind of interplanetary significance to August 27th. Monkey started her new school with me that day. MDDaddy also started his new job. Aunt Missy's college classes started that day too. Just, yeahhh... I should've played the lottery, but I thought that might be pushing it.

Another choice/change: starting Monk at a new preschool also means I have now made the commitment to stay at my current job for the foreseeable future. We've already had to pull her out of one preschool and into another, and I don't want to do that again. Finding somewhere I feel confident leaving my flesh and blood is NOT an easy task, and I want her (and us!) to have the stability of knowing where she will be. So we can plan. And not do this insane scramble, like, uh... ever? Yeah. Never's good for me. 

Well, at least until she is going to start kindergarten...because we ARE going to move before then, though we're not sure where... Maybe closer to her sister, or the other direction, closer to our church and MDD's new job...and then that means packing...and more choices...and, crap. Where's the Tylenol?

As far as the medical issues: Monkey's big sis had The Ear Infection Which Would NOT Die. Seriously, it was over a month. She was on antibiotics I couldn't touch or even inhale, for risk of anaphylactic shock. And by the way? That stuff smells like dead rhino. For real. Thankfully, it managed to kill that evil beast of a bug and the child was finally able to hear and chew without pain again. It was ugly.

Monkey's medical issues are still a bit nebulous. For a while there it was like an episode of House. The diagnosis is elusive, but we have some suspicions of lingering UTI or possible digestive troubles. I've had both, so neither would be a stretch. Plus it pops up rather conveniently, such as when she's in trouble for something...I don't know.

If there is anything worth discussing I will do so, later. Just know we spent much of the late summer dealing with lab tests and follow up visits and still no one seems to have much of a clue, nor much of a concern. So, maybe it's nothing. I surely hope so. Knock on wood, as it's subsided since August.

Just some more of those unexpected twists of the road, which in turn point you somewhere you never thought you'd be. The last time I posted, we had the next year all planned out and now here we are...and very little looks the way we thought it would.

Interestingly enough, I think we're headed in a good direction, though it is bittersweet on many levels.

On a related note: It is now October and the wedding is less than four weeks away.
So of course, today I woke up with my first wedding-induced anxiety attack at exactly 4:40 AM. I have no idea what worried me enough to wake me up but yay, here I am with an extra hour of wakey-wakey time. Coffee, anyone???'s what happens while you're busy making plans.

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