Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Jack was unwell when I picked him up from daycare yesterday, and he had a fever. So today he's home with me, after a grand total of six work shifts.

He's getting some much-needed sleep right now. I was thinking about how some people have their parents to rely on in times like this. My work is good about accommodating this kind of thing, but it doesn't make me feel like a good employee to need time off this soon. But he needs me, so here I am. And, honestly, I'm the best person to make sure he sleeps and drinks enough.

But thinking about not having my mom gave me one of my old dreams, the one where she's still alive.

Normally they fall along a certain pattern. I find out she's not dead yet, but she's left me anyway, to go live her life somewhere else, to die away from me after doing things on her own first. I chase what feels like a shadow, look for clues, ask others, beg for a phone number, anything. I always wake up before I find her.

This time was a little different. She did leave, but now she's better and wants to see me. I'm so excited, and I'm trying to get to her, trying to dial a phone that won't work, be where I'm supposed to be with obstacle after obstacle in my way.  I get messages and encouragement. And my son is alive in this dream. She wants to meet him. Everything is going to be better.

And then just like that, it's crushed. She faked her death, so I can't see her or the life insurance will sue. She won't see me. She goes back into hiding. I get to see a picture. She's happy. I know she loves me. And I wake up.

These dreams would haunt me more if they weren't the only opportunity I get to see her. And at least this time she wanted to see me back.

Monday, March 17, 2014

First Week Of Daycare

Jack has spent a week at daycare. He's eaten his weight in food, dropped a bottle from his daily feed and is not taking much in the way of naps.
Home after a busy day of daycare.

The eating part I'm feeling pretty great about. He's nearly a year old. Moving away from formula is a good move. The sleep part worries me. I've been so militant about it, going well out of my way to ensure he sleeps enough. But it's hard on him being somewhere new and trying to sleep there.

This weekend he stumbled around like a drunk, exhausted even after naps. He slept in. And today he had a leaky eye, runny nose and I got a call that he started running a mild temperature. He'd napped only an hour all day. He barely wanted dinner, so I did his bath routine 45 minutes early. And he's been waking up every 30 to 90 minutes with a cough or cry. Poor pumpkin.

And poor me.

You know, what's hard about being a parent isn't necessarily the extra labour. It's often the unknown variables you deal with. It's the lack of a support system when you're living away from most of your family. It's wondering how you balance your work obligations with your baby's needs. It's all the mental and emotional space your baby takes up in your mind and your heart.

Like right now, what do I do? He's wetting one fewer diapers than normal. Is it because he's sick? I don't want to wake him, but is his temperature staying steady? Was it the right thing to put him to bed early, or does that have anything to do with his restless sleep? These little choices feel so large.

I'm liking being back at work, but when Jack isn't feeling well, I don't want him away from me. I think he'll get better faster in my care. And I don't want to take time off work my second week back. He went till nine months without so much as a sniffle, and he's had three colds since, which actually lines up nicely with the increase in trips to the Early Years Centres and daycare. Sigh.

I wouldn't go back, but that doesn't mean there isn't a part of me that wistfully recalls my simpler life, which I didn't even appreciate as being simple. I can admit I struggle with certain aspects of domesticity, and throwing another person's needs into the mix at times feels daunting.

With him feeling under the weather, I feel no sense of predictability about tomorrow. At least this whole night has not been spent with him crying. Some sleep is happening. Maybe the morning will be okay. Maybe.

God, I'm lucky he's an easy baby. Jack is not the baby I deserve, but he is the baby I need.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

End of Maternity Leave

I'm at the end of my mat leave. My last day was February 23, 2013. I took a little vacay, mat leave began on March 1, and bolstered by a little more vacay, I'm due back at work on Tuesday. Jack starts daycare on Monday.

Friday was the last real day, where I had my baby all to myself while the Dude was at work. And it was a really great day. In fact, I had a really good week. Jack had been kind of sick for two weeks, so we didn't do much for awhile. But last week was really lovely.

Monday the Dude took the day off and we went to the subsidy office.

Tuesday I took Jack to an Early Years Centre in the morning.

Wednesday I took Jack to an Early Years Centre in the afternoon.

Thursday a mom friend came over with her little boy in the afternoon for a nice visit.

Friday I took Jack for a long walk after a day of him eating plenty and taking great naps.

So, it's ending on a high note. The notes haven't all been high, but now that my leave is ending I realize just how much I'll miss it. It's an era of my life that's over. I watched my baby grow and it's been a sweet time.

Deep down, I guess I used to feel like parents had some sort of protocol or idea of what they're doing... but we're all really just flying kind of blind. I made everything up as I went, Googling, asking my doctor and other moms for information, and now I feel like I've got some sort of handle on it all. And just in time to go back to work and do things I'm completely rusty at.

I was rocking Jack in the glider yesterday evening as I fed him his last bottle of the day and I had a little cry. Very soon that time of the day is going to really matter more to me than ever before. At the end of a day of work, I'm going to have to get as much out of our time together as I can, all two hours of it.

The Dude and Jack have a great relationship, and sometimes the Dude doesn't even get to see Jack at the end of the day, though when he does he says it's amazing quality time. So I can't be afraid of our connection going anywhere. I was raised with daycare and was very attached to my mother.

It's just I don't think I'm fully ready for it to be over. That's all. If I could just have one more month, maybe, or two. There's so much I'm going to miss.

You know, it took me some time to adjust to being a mother, to truly fall in love with my baby and to get into a groove where I wasn't feeling inadequate. And now I'm there. But at least maternity leave did that for me. It gave me the time I needed to become confident and competent and to create a relationship with my son. I can't imagine what American mothers go through, leaving their babies at 6 weeks, 12 weeks... I had over 11 months and that still doesn't feel like enough.

But here we are. I'm lucky. I just have to remember that. Jack will be just fine, and soon so will I.

We'll still have Sundays.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Toronto's Daycare Subsidy

So, the Dude and I were approved for daycare subsidy. We were fortunate enough to find inexpensive home care at $45 a day, and it's been reduced to a little over $39, and only Tuesday through Friday because I don't work on Monday. But it's still a savings of around $80 a month, which is nothing to sneeze at.

And I intend to move Jack to the actual daycare centre when he's 18 months and there's space in the toddler room. Care then will cost over $70 a day and with the subsidy in place I should still only pay $39. I think. Either way, it'll be cheap enough to be affordable with the subsidy and all the leg work has now been done.

And what leg work there was.

We had to provide our Child Tax Credit statement, where our household income was assessed from our taxes. We had to provide our own tax assessments. I needed to provide a letter of employment, plus pay stubs and the Dude had to fill out forms for being self-employed. Then we needed our lease to prove we lived in Toronto. And we needed Jack's birth registration. And we both needed to go, so the Dude had to get the day off work.

So, we were lucky enough that my in-laws were in town and they took care of Jack. My goodness, he loves his grandpa. They visit on the iPad all the time and looks like it really has been enough to forge a relationship. The little guy was in grandparent heaven.

We got to the subsidy office later than intended because it's located in the worst part of the city: Islington. My god, what a hell hole. No, it's not riddled with crime and gangs. It's just car-centric, boring and horribly laid out, plagued with heavy traffic and nothing interesting to do or see. We missed one turn and it took us 20 minutes to get back to where we needed to be.

Screen shot from Google Street View
because it's too boring to take a real picture of.
In the office we gave our paperwork and at one point we were called over to verify some things. The lady cheerfully informed us we were missing things and was on the verge of telling us sorry, go home, suckers. Luckily it was she who missed something and so that didn't happen, although we saw it happen to someone else, a single mother who was there with a sick child. This place was all-business.

We had our interview with another woman who was even more walled-off than the first. She too said without a hint of concern we were missing things. There was no reassuring conversation that things could still be processed or that everything could move forward, so we were left feeling jittery and agitated. Apparently because I was on maternity leave, I needed a letter stating that and indicating when I'd return. And of course this was never mentioned until that moment.

I had very disturbing stomach rumbles during this time. When you have one crack at gaining a subsidy that will allow your finances to align for the next year and ensure quality care for your baby, you experience quite a bit of stress when it appears like it's not going to work out.

But thankfully, shitting my pants was not in the cards because I was informed that mat leave letter could wait and be sent in later. And just like that, we were approved. It seemed sudden, after all the mulling over our papers and very serious tone in the room. Immediately the mood lightened and the woman started conversing more naturally, answering questions and even nearly smiling.

It's definitely a weight off my shoulders. It's good to know what to budget for. All this time it's been an X factor. That's one of the crazy things about having a baby in this city. Finding a daycare is crazy, finding one you can afford is crazier still, and securing the subsidy can be tricky (And that's if you find care that'll accept it). So you can't make a sensible financial plan. I was quoted $1,400 a month from one place, which I could not afford. I'll pay about $820, which is a steal.

I'm so grateful I don't want more children. What you have to go through to get through life with one is more than enough. He's worth it, but cripes.
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