The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: Daycare

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationIt was pouring rain yesterday, as in severe storm-type of pouring. So, with his little windbreaker hood over his head, I hurried the little guy out to the car in the morning as we headed out for the day.

With the new car seat in place, especially with my tiny car, it takes a little longer than it used to set him in place, get his arms through the loops, and fasten him into place for our morning commute.

So, as I sat in the backseat, half of me sticking outside, I was getting absolutely drenched and did, in that split-second, what made to me perfect sense – I closed the door. I got him all buckled in, gave him a toy for the ride, and then went to get into the front seat when I came across something quite unexpected.

I was locked in.

I had my keys and remote in my hand, so I tried the ol’ ‘lock it, unlock it’ and when I went to jiggle the handle got absolutely nothing.

I tried calling my wife, but she was getting ready herself in the house and didn’t have her phone with her.

I looked over at the little guy, who laughed and clapped (yes, he’s clapping now, and I’m so glad he found daddy as hilarious as I was) and I just looked at my situation and had to laugh myself.

With my little car and his big car seat, getting to the front seat would not be easy. I tried to climb over, feet-first, but couldn’t due to the size of his car seat. I sat back down while he looked at me curiously and took off my shoes. I tossed them over and into the front seat and, as best I could with the small space I was given, tossed myself, head first into the passenger seat.

From there, I was able to make my way to the driver’s seat, get my shoes on and make our way out of the driveway and on our way.

It was certainly an acrobatic start to our day.

It’s been an emotional 24 hours, and it all begins with a dry erase board.

What? A dry erase board? How much wallop can a piece of plastic sitting on the refrigerator really pack?

Quite a bit, actually.

You see, the dry erase board has been hanging on our fridge from the day we first moved into our home (our first home, I add). As the past three years have ticked by, nothing was erased from it, only added to it. It began with my wife’s adorable drawing of our house right after the purchase, and the phrase “our house” above it, a nod to the song that makes us think of that day we finally closed on our little starter home, often prompting a “remember that” hug. Then came some messages back and forth leading up to our wedding day – an I love you here, an I love you too, there. Messages from visitors. Even some doodles of our three kitties that have expanded our family over the those three quick years (and are the reasons I discovered my paternal side and just how ready I was to be a dad).

This weekend, though, those memories went from the dry erase board that we passed every day, to memories for life in our heads as we erased to make way for a new chapter.

That chapter, of course, is the life with our newborn son. He’s 7 weeks old now, and today marked the first day my wife had to return to work and that dry erase board now serves as the list of reminders for our new morning routine.

I’ve written previously about my fears leading up to this, but today was it.

Due to a number of factors, including the challenges that have come about with breastfeeding, as well as some economic restraints, we’ve taken a member of the family up on an offer to watch him during the day while we’re at work. While this strikes our wallets much easier, it still has not made the emotional punch of separating him from mom any softer.

Yesterday was filled with that anxiety of what’s to come, every routine movement filled with so much more sentiment knowing a pivotal point is about to begin. From his bath to his evening feeding, everything was filled with a tinge of sadness, knowing that tomorrow and the days forward would be different.

This morning, our new routine began, waking several hours earlier, getting ready, and most Earth-rocking, getting him ready. As we fitted him into his carrier for a trip in the car, it was hard not to fight back the tears that followed. He is our baby, our little man, who has spent these past seven weeks with his mommy at every moment.

We would love more than anything for my wife to be able to stay home with the kids, but financially, it is just not possible. We’ve tried every equation to find some way to make it feasible and the numbers just never add up. The front door closed as I carried him down the steps, my wife’s tear-filled face behind it.

It was the hardest thing emotionally I’ve ever had to do. I can’t imagine what it feels like the first time a parent puts their kid on the bus for school.

The family unit has survived my (gasp) return to work, despite my insane fears of hardship and anxiety last week. Meg has been home with the wee one, who has slept for most of the days, except for when he’s hungry or dirty, of course.

I can’t wait for the times ahead when he’s awake and taking in the world around him, including his mom and dad. Seeing his eyes open are an enlightening experience each day, even if they are brief, before the wails bellow from his lungs asking to be fed or changed.

While we have adjusted to our new routine, and I look forward to seeing his face and Meg’s when I walk through the door each day, there is another cloud of anxiety that has slowly crept in and hangs above us like a dooming gray forecast in the sky.

Before we know it, Meg will have to return to work as well – something neither one of us are looking forward to. Here, we have just created a miracle – a living, breathing, human being, instilled with parts of each of us. Even as I write it, I am astounded at how amazing the concept truly is.

However, the thought at this time of handing this little person, so helpless, so reliant, who knows only his mom, his dad and his kitties, over to people to watch him for the bulk of his day, only to return to us for a few hours before the end of the day and a long night’s sleep, quite frankly, scares me.

I’m not just talking about the frightening costs of childcare, which, even at the decent prices we’re getting compared to others I’ve spoken to. Sure, those costs could equal out another mortgage and a half, making me realize that our dreams of a slightly larger home may be put on hold for quite a while.

It’s the thought of handing over our little boy to strangers, whom he will spend the bulk of his time with at such a tender age, that rocks me to the core.

Not that they are bad people, but that as he starts to awaken to the world around him, he’s going to be awakening to it where he spends more time with other people than he does his family. At his tender, newborn age, I just can’t bring myself to feel right about it, no matter how common it may be.

I would love to prevent it, to have him spend his time going from newborn to toddler, spending the bulk of his days in the presence of his parents, but right now it is depressingly not appearing to be in the cards. Some have suggested that I look into a part time job to supplement income so Meg has the ability to stay at home (if she wanted to, of course. I feel that I have inadvertently put undue pressure on her to take extra time off to be with the baby) with him without worry about money. Others have suggested having a relative watch him, which just doesn’t work geographically for us.

It’s a conundrum, and one that is creeping upon us as the summer ticks away. I wish I knew what the best solution was. I wish I knew automatically what way to make it all work for him, for her, and the family as a whole.

I don’t, though. When I think about that, I feel as helpless as the little boy whose crying for me to change his diapers.

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