Realities of Parenthood

Well kittens, by now you know that there is one subject that I just can’t seem to get away from writing about – and it is childcare. Before I roll up my sleeves and get into it, again, I feel that I should let you all know which Kitty is writing today. Happy Kitty. I am happy kitty today.

 No no. Don’t be a fool. Of course I haven’t hired Mary Poppins and solved all my problems.

And no, it wasn’t my family that had the winning lottery ticket, thereby enabling me to quit working and make half these problems go away.

Everything is the same on the homefront. But I think I must have clicked my ruby red slippers just enough yesterday to make myself find my inner zen. In fact this morning my mom came over for last-minute babycare duty and said to me “did you take your happy pills this morning or something?”

HA! I wish.

Though I will say, what helped was during this morning’s workout class, during the stretch time at the beginning my instructor said “OK everyone, breathe out the anger.”

We all laughed. And it was like she sprinkled magic fairy dust on me just by saying that.

So, everyone, take a minute and breathe out the anger. Really, it helps.

And now, back to the realities of parenthood. I just now had a minute to log onto the Washington Post online and catch up with what I’ve been missing on this week’s ‘On Balance’ blog: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/onbalance/

And much to my surprise, seems that this whole week someone has been writing about childcare. In particular, they’ve been focusing on the recent article published in The Nation that I’ve also been meaning to get too, I urge you all to read it if you haven’t already:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070312/rosen

Seeing as how I’m a little late entering in on the action, there is very little that is original or new I can say in response to the article. Except to reiterate that I am currently living the reality of the childcare crisis that we all face. And if you aren’t a parent yet and are contemplating having a kid, or you are pregnant, then you’ll face it too. And then there are some that choose daycare instead of nanny or some that choose nanny instead of daycare – but not a one of us gets away unscathed. We’re all in it together.

There will always be a sick kid, a sick nanny, something  just always comes up when you just aren’t expecting it and you really don’t need it. It just does. We can’t live our lives in a bubble. Something undesirable comes up and when you just don’t know who is going to take care of your child that day, or you both have equally busy and important days at work with meetings that you both must be physically present for meanwhile you have a kid with a raging fever – something’s gotta give.

It’s just the reality of parenthood.

SO how do you decide what has got to give without tit for tat? Without one person always taking one for the team and the other parent never has to carry that burden? How do you both, as partners, manage the realities of a childcare crisis?

I’m asking. I’d love to hear from you.

I think one of the important points made in the On Balance blog and that I was trying to make a few weeks ago when criticizing Mom’s Rising, www.MomsRising.org, is that fathers need to be included and from the beginning.

From the day that baby is born, if you as the mother create a situation where you are the only one that knows how to take care of the baby and the only one that responds to the miserable 3am, then 3:30am, then 4am, then “not f’ing again” 4:30am cries, and the only one that keeps up with when to buy more formula, and more diapers, and more A&D ointment. And then the only one that deals with the stress of staying home at the last minute when faced with a childcare crisis.

Well, then you are exactly the kind of mother that I don’t feel sorry for. I believe you sleep in the bed you make. And if you enable your partner to have a bird’s eye view into parenting and participate in the good and joys of a child but checkout during the struggles – then that’s your fault. You are not going to win any awards or trophies.

So – we make it work chez moi because we both have been involved, engaged partners from the time darling daughter entered the world. Sure, there have been plenty of mis-steps along the way. Sure, we’ve had some serious “You’ve got to do more” conversations, and sure, I am carrying the brunt of finding the new nanny burden. I’m not pretending that it’s a day in the life of the Cleavers only this time it’s perfectly balanced.

But the thing that helps keep me sane is that my husband participates. He stayed home yesterday during our ongoing childcare crisis, even though we both have big and stressful deadlines looming at work. He’s gotten up to help tend to baby from the early days of her life so that I could get some much needed sleep. He even left work early once because I was a weepy new mom, crying my eyes out on the front step, totally unable to just get it together.

So – to the point that Rebeldad made in the On Balance blog, father’s have got to be involved and play a role. They need to be counted on during a childcare crisis, which really does rock the center of your universe and throw obscene amounts of stress into your life, and they need to be a voice for the importance of paid paternity leave and flexible hours for working parents in their offices. This is what I think, and I think we all need to push them and encourage them to do this. Otherwise how can we be capable of breathing out the anger?

What do you think?

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