Friday, March 19, 2010

Searching for Mary Poppins

So it's that time of year when many of my friends are starting to head back to work after their year of maternity (some thing we work at home mom's luckily don't have to think about) and now they are thinking about where to bring their babies. A few have sought my advice, for some reason they think I have a degree in Mary Poppinsism, well maybe I do, after all (here's where I toot my own horn, feel free to look away), I did run my own daycare centre for over 16 years.

The first thing a parent needs to think about is what kind of care would suit their child best, a large group centre where there are usually 10 children per caregiver, a licensed family centre, where the caregiver has anywhere from 2 - 8 children, which allows siblings to stay together or a smaller unlicensed home, where caregivers can have their own children plus 2. Does your child like more one on one contact or do they flourish in a louder, busier environment? Don't forget there are also Nannies, something I will talk about more later on, for now I'll concentrate on Daycares.

It's a good idea to check out at least 2 facilities in each category, so 6 all together. Once you know what type of place you're looking for, it's a good idea to get on as many wait lists as possible, in some neighbourhoods it can take up to a year before there is an opening, so it's best to be prepared early so you don't feel like you're settling for a less than perfect place for your little angel.

The next step is setting up appointments, some places will be ok with you coming by while they are operating, some won't. This could be a red flag...or not. When I ran my daycare I choose to do the first interview alone with the family (without their child), that way they could have my undivided attention. I also felt it was not fair to the children I cared for to have different people in and out not only taking up my time with questions and away from properly caring for them, but for privacy and respect for the families I had already welcomed into my home.

To be continued....time to check on my sleeping kiddos. = )

Turning 40..........

This week I turned 40, to my teenagers 40 is oooolllldd, to me it's only a number...timed by 20. There's a new saying in our home....40 is the new 20, I may have gotten older, but with age comes a deeper appreciation for things that are truly important, like loved ones and memories.

I few nights ago I couldn't sleep because I was worried about finding a special dress, the dress my oldest 4 daughters wore on their first birthday. Two of them were also baptised in it and my niece wore it when she turned one. To all of us it was a special keepsake. So I decided it was time to pull it out and get it ready for our soon to be 5th daughters first birthday party. After digging through her closet and a 1/2 dozen upstairs drawers, I called my mom in panic..."MOM, I can't find the dress!" She knew instantly which dress I was referring to. The pink, 2 layer, multi-ruffled, could be on the top of a cake, adorably cute dress. My mom in her hopeful Christian calm voice said "don't worry, we'll find it". That night I couldn't sleep.

Later the next day she came over to help, while she played pizza play-dough with the kids, I carried on my quest like Indiana Crazy Woman Jones. Who knew a little storage area beneath a tiny stair case could hold so many boxes. A few hours later my heart sank as I finished going through the last box, it wasn't there.

This dress was to be an heirloom passed on to each new little girl in the family (or boy, if mommy or daddy wanted to torture him at his wedding). All I kept thinking about was that big fluffy dress and where it was hiding. What if I couldn't find this lost treasure, what if it was mistakenly dropped off at my favorite consignment store??? Maybe there was a way of tracking the customer down? Finding a needle in a haystack sounded more hopeful, but I was a mommy on a mission, determined to find this dress.

I went so far as to bring a picture of it to the consignment store owner. "I would have remembered a dress like that", she said, "It's adorable!" I think she could tell by the look on my face that her words shot a spike through my heart. She checked my account on her computer, no pink dress. The dress would be very hard not to remember, it's the kind you might see on a prized porcelain doll. My stomach filled up with knots.

Then I remembered the last time my mom came over to help me sort through baby boxes. It was 1 year ago, I was a week away from giving birth to my 6th baby (daughter # 5), we both thought it was time to donate years worth of clothing I had kept. Most of them had been passed on to each new daughter, some I was saving to make a memory quilt, some I was keeping because I didn't have the heart to get rid of it. So we gathered them up, labeled and sorted through them, one or 2 boxes for consignment, a dozen or so for charity. Could I have mistakenly folded the dress up and put it in one of the charity boxes, mistaking it for a keepsake box?

Visions of my daughter's baptism came to me like a famous poster (Man holding Baby), she looked so angelic in the arms of my brother. Her tiny feet dangling over the baptismal font, while the poofy pink dress surrounded her like heavenly clouds. "An Angel in Arms", the title might say. Tears welled up in my eyes. What am I going to do if I can't find it. What if I did accidentally donate the dress??

The answer.... 20 years ago this month my first daughter wore that dress, and 20 years later my youngest daughter will wear another. That night, after the kids went to bed, I sat on the couch with my head in my hands thinking about the pink dress, and how none of my grandchildren would ever wear it or see it up close. My husband reminded me that I had forgotten something, it wasn't the dress that gave me those wonderful memories, it was living my life that did.

The sentimental hoarder in me took a deep breath, I smiled at my husband and thanked him. He was right and it was then that I was able to let go of the memory of that dress and welcome new one's in. I finished planning my daughter's birthday and had a wonderful FULL nights sleep.

First thing in the morning I went to that same consignment store to drop off another box, as I walked in the first thing that caught my eye was a white and ruffly dress, no it wasn't
'THE' dress I had scoured our home for, but a used one on display. It was just as beautiful as the one I so desperately wanted to find the day before. As I walked up to the cashier, I thought about the family who gave their dress and how we would make some wonderful new memories with it.

This weekend our family will celebrate our daughter's first birthday, we will watch her as she tears at the wrapping paper and plays in boxes instead of her new toys and we'll laugh with her as she smears birthday cake all over that new used dress.

I'm 40 now and even though I've lost some weight and that 20 year old pink dress, I know the memories are here with me and more importantly so are the loved one's I've shared them with. I'm thankful for the 40 years I've had and I'm looking forward to the one's yet to come.