Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's always been a matter of Trust...

I started this particular blog post almost 3 weeks ago.  Then deleted it.  It was scathing.  It was crude.  I wrote this post instead in an effort to relieve the rage that was about to spew forth from my furiously typing fingers if I allowed myself to discuss what had just happened.

A little over 2 weeks ago, we fired our babysitter.  The baby has been enrolled in an in-home childcare with "Grace" (all the names in this post are being changed, by the way) since I went back to work.  I knew that by making the choice to be a working mom that I was resigning myself to the fact that someone else was going to be doing some of my mommy jobs.  But, let me be honest - as much as I love being around that little guy as much as I can, I was (and still am) okay with someone else changing the diapers for 8 hours a day.  Okay?  I said it. However, I also know that even if I hired someone with a PhD in childcare, it still wouldn't be me doing the job and so there's no way it would ever be fully up to my standards.  Because he's mine.  And I'm his mommy.  And I may be new at being a mommy, but I have years of experience being a control freak. 

It's just true.

Grace, with her 14 years of childcare experience, probably knows how much trust I instilled in her the day that I left the center of my universe in her care.   It's Trust with a capital T because it is unlike any other trust I've ever given to anyone, anywhere. And honestly, it was Trust that I blindly handed to her.  I'm a new mom.  I didn't know any better.
For the most part, I felt pretty happy in my decision for the 4 months he was enrolled in Grace's daycare.  I wasn't crazy about the level of communication (we never received any kind of written or verbal report of his day other than "good" day or "bad" day), the defensiveness that we were met with when we questioned a procedure, the fact that her busy body sister (with the worst boundaries I've ever seen...and I work in mental health) sometimes took over, or the fact that there were several times when she clearly wasn't ready for my son to be dropped off at drop-off time.  These things were annoying.  Deal breakers?  No.  I figured it was just the control freak side of me that was unhappy and that I needed to learn to give a little bit if I wanted to have the best of both worlds.

So, imagine my rage when my husband called me in a sort of reserved panic and relayed the conversation he had just had with our babysitter at drop-off time.

Husband:  So, we've been making our own food and starting tomorrow we'll be sending you two solid meals a day to feed the baby.
Grace:  Well, I've been feeding him solid foods for awhile now.
Husband: (rendered almost speechless) You have?
Grace:  Yeah.  Like, carrots and cereal and stuff.
Husband:  (absolutely gobsmacked) Okay, well, we're making our own food and we'll start sending that to you tomorrow.

Here is a short list of all the things wrong with that conversation:

  • We did not tell her to start feeding the baby solids.
  • She did not tell us she was feeding the baby solids.
  • The baby had just turned 6 months old, so he didn't really need to be getting 3 solid meals a day yet.  In fact, we only told her that we started solids at 4 months in a passing way so that she'd know why his poop started looking different.
  • I make my own food.  Why?  It's cheap.  It's healthier.  It's less chemicals.  It's so simple even a caveman  I can do it.  But I am sure this woman was not making her own food.  I have no idea of what brand this woman was using.  For all I know it was the cheapest, most chemically infused garbage on the market.
  • "... and stuff."  Stuff?  STUFF?!  Can you be more specific about WHAT you have been feeding my child?!
  • We did not tell her to start feeding the baby solids.
  • She did not tell us she was feeding the baby solids.
  • This conversation took place on a Monday morning.  The night before, I fed the baby carrots for what I thought was the first time.  But, apparently not.  So all of that "First Carrot Feeding" photo documentation?  Null and void.
  • I've been following a very slow and specific schedule for introducing foods to the baby as you're supposed to do to make sure the baby doesn't have a horrible allergic reaction.  Who the hell knows how the babysitter was introducing foods.  She never told us what foods she was feeding and we never told her what foods we were feeding.

So, now my head is spinning.  Sometimes Grace would tell us the baby didn't eat well.  Did she mean he didn't eat the solids well or the bottles well?  Was he not eating the bottles well because he was so full from the solids or vice versa?  One time we found a pacifier during pick-up in our play yard.  She swore up and down that she wasn't giving him a pacifier.  Was that a lie?  She's told me lots of "home remedies" for some of the baby's ailments.  I had always just taken them with a grain of salt and followed my pediatrician's guidelines.  But now I wondered if she is taking matters into her own hands and making decisions for our baby that were not hers to make.  Basically, I was panicking.

The door to my office was open when I got my husband's call so all co-workers within earshot heard my yelling and cursing and other inappropriate work behaviors.  But, wouldn't you know it?  It was as though someone had raised the Mommy Threat Advisory Level to Severe and sounded the alarms.  Within minutes I had fellow mommies sending me emails with links to popular childcare finders.  A friend gave me her actual log in information to so I could search for some babysitters in my area.  Less than an hour after our phone conversation, my husband sent me an email with links to three or four different Craigslist ads for daycare openings.  Another friend started texting every working mom she knew to find out how they found their babysitters and to try to get some referrals.  I even received sympathy calls from other moms who had heard through the grapevine.  All in all, I have never felt so supported and validated in my life.  In my 6 short months of motherhood, I don't think I've been this angry or out of control, but I was fortunate to have so many people that day who helped me hold it together no matter how much I was ripping apart at the seams.

No part of me wanted the baby to continue to go there, but it was such short notice to find a new situation for him and we only had one promising childcare lead out of the hundreds I probably looked at that day.  I wanted Grace to know that what she did was wrong, but I didn't want her to somehow take it out on the baby.  (Is that an irrational fear?  Do other working parents feel that way?  It's clear I have trust issues, but I don't think this is out of the realm of possibilities.)  Fortunately, in a unique twist of fate made for another blog post (or a TV movie),  the single lead (from Craigslist) worked out.  Two weeks later and we're already happier.  Sublimely so.  (And though it's another 10 minutes each way to get to the new sitter's house it is still totally worth it.  Easy for me to say since my husband is in charge of pick-up/drop-off.)

Firing Grace wasn't easy for either of us.  My husband was horribly sick on the day it had to be done.  He said he actually thought he was going to have to fire this woman and then ask her if he could go throw up in her bathroom.  We decided to cop out and tell her we had just find someone that we knew (partially true) who was more convenient (not at all true).  Surprisingly, Grace seemed to have a tough time with it.  She cried a little and seemed sad when we picked up the baby and she had to say goodbye.  Of course, she had a Craigslist ad posted to fill the spot before the day was through and she made sure to remind us of her 30 day cancellation policy.  So.  Whatever.  No love lost.

So, how do you keep from having your Trust betrayed in such a way?  Short of quitting your job, asking a (reliable) family member/close friend to watch your child, or paying thousands upon thousands of dollars a year to send your child to the best of childcare centers...I don't know.  Most of the mommies I know aren't able to exercise most of those options and the ones that have still have moments when they aren't 100% happy.

What I do know is that I had no clue what questions to ask from the beginning and I really had no idea what I even wanted out of our childcare.  In a way, I wonder if out of all the ugliness created by this situation gave me the opportunity to discover what I was looking for when it came to childcare, to allow me to really assess my values and philosophies of parenting, and to remind me to not give that Trust away so freely.

The good news is: there's a happy ending to this story (and that post will follow), I didn't blog angrily (which is a huge win for me), and I ended my 3 week blogging hiatus.  Everybody wins.


  1. I'm not a mother but I totally understand your rage. It seems unthinkable that a woman would randomly take your son's development into her own hands. Maybe it was "easier" for her to do what she wanted, but hell, that's not what you paid her for! You were totally in the right to fire her. But you/Jim are nicer than me- I would've read her the riot act at her firing time and gave her a piece of my mind. Good for you.

  2. You know - that's been the most validating part of this entire situation. Everyone I have told this story to - new moms, old moms, non-moms, they've all been similarly enraged. Which makes it all the more infuriating, there's no way this woman could have thought what she was doing was going to be okay with us.

  3. This is why, while I go batty in the house with my baby (let's face it, it's not always so great even though we must pretend it is) I'm so scared to go back to work! I don't know what I would have done, and I've heard far too many horror stories. So I've decided - This. Is. My. Life. DIAPERS. You are definitely a better person than I am. I think I may have attempted to drown her in her toilet bowl...

  4. Valerie - I've said several times since this happened how fortunate it was that I didn't drop him off that day. I don't know what I would have done. It wouldn't have been pretty, I am sure of that.


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