Tag Archives: wisdom

Adventures in Babysitting, Part I

I was due with my first baby in mid-June, just about the time I graduated from MBA school and about 10 weeks before I started my PhD program, a time frame which turned out to be perfectly suited for maternity leave.  I planned to find childcare during that time and I figured it would be like finding a doctor – you go on a website somewhere that lists all the doctors within a certain radius, you check their qualifications and then you pick one based on who has the best decorated waiting room and hope like hell they are in-network.

We lived just a mile outside of downtown Chicago, just down the street from Oprah, and I was pretty sure there had to be like 66 million daycares and each of them were pining for the chance to take care of my infant.  So then one day when I’m about 7 months along, I was in a deli minding my own business, eating my farm raised, low mercury salmon and asparagus sandwich and reading a Harvard Business Review case for class and two ladies on their lunch break sat down next to me.  They were talking about office gossip, which was way more interesting than my reading, so I was listening in. And they probably noticed I was pregnant and listening to them so suddenly they began talking about how annoying another woman was at work because all she did was freak out everyday about how there were no slots for infants in any daycare centers anywhere in Chicago and she was only 3 months pregnant and what a dumb ass for not realizing this before she got preggers. Hmmm.  I looked down at my belly and winced as two things happened concurrently: my fetus/son gave me a swift kick to my kidney, and I had an epiphany. I’m fucked.

The search for a daycare commenced immediately.  I went to Google to find the website that listed all of the daycare centers/ family daycares / nannys / nanny-shares within a 1 mile radius of my house.  We only had one car and I would have it most of the time at school.  BD would have to be able to walk from work, to daycare, to home with the baby.  I thought maybe 1 mile might be too large a radius, but we could start there and then figure out how to narrow down our choices.

I opened up Google. Now to find the website…..this nice, informational website….I’m sure it’s here somewhere….Hmm…wait, where is the website?….Nope, not it….Not this…..(My kid kicks my bladder at the same moment as if to say “you’re doing a helluva job so far, Mom) um, no. nonononononononono. NO…..

There. is. no. magical-daycare-finding website.

I am alone in the vast urban and Internet wilderness. Google has forsaken me. I had to sift through a tangle of daycare websites and dead ends and phone numbers. The whole finding-childcare-for-your-perfect-beautiful-newborn-that-you-can-afford-without-selling-your-kidney-and-is-located-somewhere-in-the-state-of-Illinois journey was kind of like the Trail of Tears for new parents.  At least finding the big daycare center chains was easy. They were nowhere near my condo, but I called anyway.  They had nine month waiting lists for infants.  Okay…I’m not great at math, but I think that means that on the day of conception you sure as hell better reserve your spot at Kindercare. Now I finally realized why God sent an angel to tell me of my children’s conceptions – so they could get a spot in daycare on time.  It would have been nice if he had mentioned that as well.

Well, this is bad news. I need infant care starting five and half months from now, and apparently this is really late notice for the whole childcare world.  I mean, I haven’t even met this kid I’m going to have. I know nothing about being a parent or about babies or about my specific baby or what I’m going to feel like in five months and I have to find a perfect childcare situation now, or I can’t go back to school. I’m not going to get my PhD. I’ll have to be a stay at home mother. One thing I knew for sure was that being at stay at home mother was out of the question, because I already loved my unborn child. I would not subject him to the psycho mother he would come to know if he were in my care 24-7.  So I re-doubled my efforts and kept coming up short.

I grew up in a home daycare. And I loved it. It was like having a second family, and we didn’t have any family nearby, so it was awesome. I guess I wanted something similar for my son, so I was partial to the idea of having my baby go to a home daycare nearby. But searching for home daycares on Google is futile and I was really starting to lose hope that the baby I was about to have wouldn’t be some kind of juvenile delinquent due to my poor parenting (non)decisions made while he was still in the womb.  So I went to the Starbucks in the building next door. It was an odd choice because I don’t drink coffee, but I felt like I needed something warm in my belly for the next few hours I planned to spend curled up in bed crying and worrying about what a bad mother I already was. And Starbucks kind of seemed like a church to so many yuppies, I thought maybe they sprinkled you with calming fairy dust when you went in and I might find some peace there.

No visible fairy dust, but as I waited patiently for my Caramel Apple Cider, I wandered over to the little bulletin board they have by where you pick up your drinks.  There was a lime green flyer right in the middle of it. My stomach did a flip and my knees kind of buckled and my brain said, “You are fucking kidding me, GOD!” (Yes, I have ongoing conversations with God in my head like “Oh God! You’re so unpredictable sometimes!”  or “God, why did encourage me to have the third glass of wine? I feel like ass this morning. You should have stopped me!”).

There on the board was a flyer for a new home daycare starting up in the condo building next to mine. I know, right?  Seriously.  I grabbed the flyer and ran home. I forgot my Caramel Apple Cider.  I was panting when I called BD.

Love: “I found a daycare for our baby!”

BD: “Cool.”

Love: “It’s in the building next door! And they do yoga! And its all organic food! Oh my GOD!”

BD: “You don’t even do yoga or know anything about organic food.”

Love: “What? Um. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that my prayers have been answered. I must call her immediately. She is The One.”

BD: “Go for it.”

I got off the phone with my heart beating fast and I immediately dialed Miss Amalia’s Place.  No answer, but the long-winded, rambling, breathless message I left went a little like this:

Hello! My name is Love and I have a baby. No, I mean I’m pregnant with a baby that I will have in a few months and I need a daycare in August and I just love home daycares and I saw your flyer at Starbucks and I took it but I will definitely bring it back but I was wondering whether you had a spot for a newborn and I’m sure he is going to be a really good kid because I didn’t cry a lot when I was a kid, but I guess we won’t know till he gets here  — heh, heh — but anyway I really think we should talk and I just love that I’m in the building next door so we’re neighbors and what great timing that I found your flyer and I will bring it back because I forgot to pick up my caramel apple cider anyway, so I’ll put it back but I really think we should talk and my baby should go to your daycare and please call me back.

I hung up and thought, “Seriously? What was that? You idiot. You sound crazy. Maybe you should call back again and explain that you aren’t crazy. Or would that be crazier? ” I hung my head.  But then I brightened knowing that stalking people who need to be in my life is one of my most valuable talents and Miss Amalia’s Place just moved up to the top spot on that list.

I waited five minutes with my hand clutching the phone receiver. No call back. Ten minutes. No call. Maybe I should call again? Just to say I’m not crazy? Fifteen minutes — the phone rings. It’s her!! The woman sent by God to take care of my unborn child, as soon as he gets born.

Love: “Hello?!”

M.A.: “Hi. This is Miss Amalia. You called about needing daycare in August for an infant?” (slight Korean accent)

Love: “Yes! Yes! Where do I sign up?”

M.A: “Ha ha. You are funny. It’s not that easy.  I will  interview you to see whether you’re the family I want to take.”

Love: “You’re going to interview us?”

M.A: “Yes. There is no other way. Can you and your husband come interview with me in a couple of days at 6pm @ Starbucks? You’ll both need to be present.  I have a long waiting list, but I will choose who gets the spot based on my interviews.”

Love: “Oh. I didn’t know this is how it worked. Here I thought I should interview you.”

M.A: “You should. Part of my decision will be based on the questions you ask me.”

Love: “Um. My son isn’t even born yet, and we’re new parents, so I’m not really sure what we’ll have to say.”

M.A: “I find my relationship with the parents is as important as with the child. This is the way I do things. If you’re uncomfortable with the process —”

Love: “No! No! Heh, heh. No! We’ll definitely be there. With good questions.”

M.A: “Great. Don’t be late.”

Love: “Right.”

Okay, so the world had changed from the time I went to daycare. Up to that point, I had spent my whole life competing to get in the best schools, in the best programs, hired by the best companies for the most exclusive jobs and I always won the things I set out to get. Because I loved those games and I was really good at them. No matter that I usually ended up not really wanting all the things I’d won, but who doesn’t like winning games? I wasn’t going to let a home daycare lady be the first to reject me or my unborn child. I wasn’t losing this game. She was our only hope and clearly God led me to Starbucks and this whole thing was meant to be.

We were going to be the family she chose. Period. Now I just had to figure out how to morph us into the “right” family for our interview.  I quickly opened my browser and searched for “yoga” and “organic food”.

Part II

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Don’t worry – if you have a big ass, or I think you’re gay, I’ll be the first to let you know

Sometimes I have trouble filtering.  If I consume even a drop of alcohol (Fine. No. I’ve never stopped at a single drop, but shut up, I’m trying to tell a story here), I lose the ability to not to tell you exactly what I think on any subject, including unpleasant things I think about you. I just…tell it like it is. Well, I tell it like it is for me.  And I tend to think that my perception is universal reality, so I can get quite passionate about your flaws as I list them out for you after my second martini. But only because I’m doing you a favor. I honestly believe that I’m just trying to help.  Honestly. There is absolutely no malice involved. I just get alcohol in my system and it occurs to my brain that what you really want — no, what you really need — is for me to tell you about what your problems are. My brain assures me that surely if I see your problem, then several other people are thinking it and you might not know it, and don’t you want to know? And so even though its uncomfortable for most parties involved (and I often make these revelations loudly, which tends to get several people involved), I’m convinced I’m doing you a favor.

Some people are mean or angry or happy drunks.  I’m a truthful drunk.  And this is a very dangerous variety of drunk to be, especially since I’m also a drunk that does not remember the next morning any of the shit I tell people or even who I may have talked to.  But if I try hard enough, sometimes I can conjure up a memory of the look on someone’s face when I tell them exactly what I’m sure that they need to hear.  Coming from a friend. Who loves them. And then I try to piece together what I must have said in the morning hangover fog, but I know what I must have said because I just think to myself about what I really believe about that person and with 100% accuracy, that is what I told them.

Needless to say, I avoid alcohol around those I do not care for, but I’ve never gotten a beat down, because like I said, I don’t say these things with any sort of malice. I say this with grave concern and love, like when I tried all throughout college to get one of my guy friends to just admit for once that he was gay.  I pleaded with him for three years to just come out, but he swore he wasn’t gay. He wanted to know why I thought such a thing. I told him the tight turtlenecks he wore, coupled with the track lighting and the crystal wine glasses he had in his dorm room, along with the key lime pie he was so fond of baking kind of gave it away. No, perhaps it was his slight gay lisp that probably was even more telling. But I suggested this out of genuine love and affection, which makes people less likely to punch me in the face, I think.  And it turns out he was gay. And he actually thanked me for my incessant drunken pleading in college. It helped him come out faster, he said. But then he disappeared from my life quickly after that. (But I don’t care because now I have Thomas.  Ah, Thomas. My fabulous queen.)

I don’t have a problem approaching complete strangers. Because I spontaneously fall in love with some of them and convince myself they need my advice.  Like the time I was at my company Christmas party and I told my boss’s boss’s girlfriend that he was a total prick at work, but I could see that she was a really nice person and maybe that means he really isn’t as terrible as I think he is and maybe she could work on him a little more and tell him to chill out. Or dump his ass, because he is kind of a fuck face (I never tire of this expression) and I would if I were her — all this while he was standing right next to her. But she was so NICE. I just thought I needed to tell her.  Maybe she didn’t know.  It got a little awkward after that.

But maybe God sent me to this earth to give people a clue. To help them out of their misery. Or just embarrass myself.  Oddly enough though, I think my friends would tell you that this is my best trait.  They want me to meet their new significant others immediately because they know that I won’t lie if I think the new guy is a total douche. Even my boss gets me drunk on purpose and then grills me with questions so she can figure out who is sleeping with who and who is talking shit about her and whether I’m going to quit or what.  And then there are the times I’m with my friends who are drinking and getting all pissy because they haven’t found someone to marry yet and I just very kindly tell them that maybe nobody wants to marry them because they’re fucking crazy. Or maybe too passive-aggressive? Oh, and that I wouldn’t date them either. And yes, earlier when you asked about whether your ass looked big in those jeans, you were spot on. It does. You are embarrassing yourself. But I’m only telling you because I’m the only one kind enough to do it.

But my revelations aren’t always bad. Noooooo. Because I think positively. And if I think good things about someone, I’m not afraid to show my love for them. Like when I spotted BD across a crowded bar in 1999, several months after we had a few dates that went nowhere, and I graciously told him in front of several of his friends that I felt bad that he had absolutely no game because if he did then we might be together because when I met him an angel told me that he was The One, but he ruined it because he doesn’t know his head from his ass when it comes to dating and now I might be lost forever to him, and now he’ll never get laid by me. Ever. Ever! (I forgot to mention that I was kind of in a serious relationship with someone else when I told him this. That dude should never have let me go out drunk by myself). But that guy wasn’t The One. And BD was and I felt strongly that The One should be made aware of how much he was fucking with destiny. But I don’t know how much game I had if I told a guy I went on three dates with that an angel told me he was The One. In front of his friends. That is creepy. But I don’t have a good friend like me who is willing to tell me about all the mistakes I make. Luckily, when BD is drunk, he is quite tolerant of women talking about having sex with him, so he listened. And we got married.  So its not like its all bad, right?

So I will make an offer to the internet populace – if you want my opinion on something, I will promise to drink my requisite two glasses of wine and ponder your question. And I will tell you what I think. Exactly. Send me pictures or inquiries to lovenotestomyego@yahoo.com and I will let you know. For real. Because I love you.

Oh, and Oprah – because I love you the most of all, I will continue to supply you with all of my thoughts about you via this blog. You needn’t email because I already know all of your problems and awesomeness that Gayle will not, cannot, reveal to you for fear you will kick her ass to the curb. I’m just keepin’ it real. Because I love you too.

This is the part where I try to be positive

I promised myself that my blog wouldn’t be a cesspool of all of my sarcasm and judginess. Hence, this blog is not called Hate Mail To Self.

My issue is that I’m one of these people who is all about trying to find true meaning in life.  So I read self-help books.  Yes. I am a junkie. I like the books that are all about the Law of Attraction and a bunch of other Laws they make up. But these books are all about positive thinking and attracting what you want and all this stuff. I get all lathered up about it when I’m reading thinking ,”I will never have a bad thought again! Oh crap! I said “bad thought” when I really need to say “I will never not have a positive thought”” because you know, the Universe in its infinite wisdom will bring you whatever you think about, but it doesn’t understand the word “not”.  Thats kind of weird. Because my two year old understands “not”, but the Universe doesn’t.   So if I keep thinking “I SO do not want wine right now”, I will only attract wine.  I SO do not want a glass of wine right now.  Ah, I think I’ll let it breathe for a few minutes.

The other books I read are all about being “present”.  Of course I had to read “A New Earth” because Oprah said to and that book was all about just don’t think anything really except about whether you can hear birds singing in the trees and focus on that.  So I’m not sure whether I”m supposed to think all these good thoughts to attract good things or if I’m supposed to think about nothing so I can just live in the moment. But I’m sorry, most moments in my life are pretty damn boring — they aren’t really moments I want to live in. Not that I don’t want to live in them! Either way, I’m attracting “life” right now – do you see?

The Law of Attraction people have all these caveats. They tell you that everything in your life is directly brought to you because of your thoughts, so then naturally people are like, “I’ve been thinking about making as much money as God FOREVER, and I’m not rich”. And then these guys say, “Well, you really have to believe it”.  And then you’re like “I BELIEVE it!” and they’re like “No you don’t. If you did you’d be rich. Like me.” Hm.  Oh, and then there is the whole sickness argument. They say that if you get sick, if you get cancer, you actually attracted it to yourself. I thought if you smoked 2 packs a day or went tanning everyday that you attracted cancer.

But I can’t help but be the skeptic when they say stuff like when kids get cancer, it means their parents attracted it through their thoughts. Umm…that is crazy talk.  I had cancer as a kid and I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t do it. But you know, I was young, so maybe they did and I just don’t remember.  I sure hope they aren’t attracting cancer to me now. I really don’t have the time or the patience to kick its ass again. Besides,  I have to save my energy for wading through bogus jobs on TheLadders.

Crap. Maybe just by saying that I’ve now attracted cancer to my kids. I’m the meanest mom ever.  I think this glass of wine has done enough breathing.  If you’ll excuse me…I have to start my healthy heart wellness program with my glass of shiraz.