27 January 2010

Talk About a Moot Point

See yesterday's post.

Today, our long wait for daycare at my place of work ended. It began before A was born and I was assured that though my records would remain on file, I shouldn't call them, they would call us. The waiting list for the Center was...long. (Oh, hello, Understatement of the Year.)

Thus began our new roles, M as the SAHD and myself as the so-called breadwinner.

And suddenly, it's over. A will start full-time daycare in less than a week and a half and M has 90 days to find employment (the Center's policy, otherwise, A gets the boot).

With this huge shift, the shift we'd been talking about and the shift that I thought I was looking forward to in a way, comes a larger than anticipated sense of loss. You see, I've learned that M and A are part of the fabric of this neighborhood now. The butchers at the meat market around the corner see her every day on her walk as she stops to moo at the cows in the window - and they give her a lolli. The women at the drapery shop anticipate the time she'll come by, press her nose against the glass door and wave. The women at the Dunkin' Donuts must watch the clock because when they get there, M's coffee is ready, along with a bag of goodies for A. They lavish her with adoration.

I've met random strangers on the street who know them by sight, and praise M for being so clearly attentive. In fact, it's because of them that we know the people we do here.

They are as much a part of the daily scenery as the T buses, the old Marine in his motorized wheel-chair, the vaguely disturbing "art" on display at a house around the corner.

I feel like this is bittersweet. A will get the interaction, more studied education and other benefits we wanted for her in daycare, but she'll lose the freedom that she has right now to walk at her own pace and examine the tiny ants or an interesting leaf; to stop and say hi to whomever she finds worthy; to take a break on the sidewalk and rest where she pleases. These are things we never saw as needing to be reined in. After all, we both believe that the best education she'll get is the one she chooses.

She'll also lose out on trips downtown - aimless rambles through the city to wade in the Frog Pond, play on the slides, see the horses at Faneuil Hall and the seals at the aquarium.

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to childcare, but both of us are feeling a strange sense of loss now that we have what we thought we wanted for her. How odd.


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