Saturday, September 6, 2008

Angst

Mister Man started preschool on Tuesday. He's doing well, and except for the mishap where he almost got onto a bus that would have taken him to the elementary school instead of his school, it's all gone well. I still can't believe he's only got five kids in his class this year -- I know it will grow as the year goes on and more kids qualify for and enter the preschool, but still five kids is tiny!

Little Miss was also supposed to start preschool on Tuesday. In fact, we've been using the "They won't let you go to St Marks if you aren't potty trained" refrain for several months now. But she didn't go. Why not you might ask?

Well, Mister Man's preschool is our local early learning center for special needs and at risk kids ages 3-5. Mister Man qualified when he turned three and graduated from Early Intervention but still needed services. His social development was far behind (fortunately much due to his speech delay that is now resolved), and his fine and gross motor were also delayed.

Little Miss has also spent time in Early Intervention. When she was six months old, she wasn't babbling at all. And by not babbling at all, I mean she didn't make a sound, including when she "laughed" - all she'd do was open her mouth wide with a smile and shake. She entered speech therapy shortly thereafter.

A little over a year into her speech therapy, they wanted her evaluated for occupational therapy, as well. She fell constantly and didn't use her hands to catch herself. Plus, she showed no reaction to pain. She had a really hard time moving from one surface to another, like from the sidewalk to grass. She qualified for occupational therapy well before her second birthday. But there were no therapists in Early Intervention available, so we were put on a waitlist.

Last August 31, Little Miss graduated from her speech therapy and now has quite the vocabulary. We were lucky. Her delay was due to constant ear infections (see the comment on pain -- we had no idea) that essentially had deadened her hearing. She's had tubes in for almost two years now, and the hearing is fine -- a huge relief. The speech therapy allowed her to catch up, and she shouldn't need any going forward.

When she graduated from Early Intervention, we still were on the waitlist for a therapist and we gave up in October. It seemed silly to keep paying for a service we weren't receiving. But she still falls all the time and ends up with huge welts and bruises and scrapes whose source are unknown. We constantly get incident reports from daycare and preschool from injuries she's incurred - at least once every other week, if not more often.

So we wanted to have her screened at the early learning center. The screening isn't scheduled until the Friday before school starts. So I found out last Friday that they want her at the school. I knew previously that she would have qualified as you now only need one qualifying criteria to attend (a change in Illinois this year, as it had been at least two until now). Qualifying criteria include everything from a second language spoken in the home to having been in Early Intervention at some point to having a sibling attend the school to income levels and more.

However, the recommendation is to have your child in the least restrictive environment possible, and I was hoping that this would mean the private preschool we'd signed Little Miss up for. They were concerned about her balance and stability, however, and strongly recommended that she attend his school. They picked up on something I hadn't noticed which is that when she stands to play with something, she sticks her feet out like a ballerina which is indicative of a balance problem.

I got the recommendation at 1:26 last Friday and immediately called the private preschool to let them know the verdict. They were closed last Thursday and Friday, so I left a message explaining and asking the director to call me. I just realized that I've yet to hear back from her. Now I'm irritated by that. Hmm.

Because the screening didn't happen until last Friday, the newly eligible students aren't to start until this coming Monday. I made sure to get all our paperwork in by this afternoon, including the bus forms on Wednesday.

By this afternoon, I still hadn't heard about when the bus was going to come to pick her up or who her teacher would be. When I called the school, the admin told me that the principal had yet to make up the class lists and may not get to it today. And that students may not start until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Oh no no no no no.

Monday is my in the office day. I leave the house at 6:15. My mom comes over, and the plan was for her to put Little Miss on the bus at 8:30 or so and to get Mister Man to his "kindergarten" program by 9am. Since it was her first time, I was going to stay to get Little Miss on the bus and take the requisite pictures but then head to work. And my mom had bridge at 10am. And our daycare doesn't exactly smile upon random added hours, nor should they.

I called again a little before five to get an update and spoke to the principal who explained that she'd spent much of the week putting out fires but totally understood my issue and was going to go work on the class lists right then and would call me back later. But no bus. Maybe no bus until Thursday.

I called my mom and she graciously agreed to take Little Miss to preschool on Monday -- which means that I miss out on seeing her off on her first day! -- and ensuring that my dad would take Mister Man to his program. That whole thing about trying to be in two places twenty minutes away at 9am just wasn't going to happen, and I can't go into the office that late. Or shouldn't anyway.

The good news is that she does have a class now. She has a teacher, and it's a teacher that I'm totally cool with. And there are currently only ten children in her class with a teacher and two aides. I know that will grow as the year goes on, but I don't think it will ever get above 17.

The bad news is that I'm missing her first day now! I'm debating faking the photos and pretending like her first day on the bus is her first day. Or making my mom take the photos and praying that she learns how to use the zoom feature.

The other option that I've seriously been considering for awhile is quitting my job. What I do is generally interesting, but I have a schizophrenic boss now. He's a huge micromanager which just doesn't work for me in general. And he piles on random assignments that he then forgets about two days later. He is never on time for meetings and frequently blows off meetings with me with no warning. But yet I'm an incredibly valued employee who they treasure.

I hate missing the moments of their lives. And I have so much going on outside work that I'd love to focus on more. I've yet to put together an agenda for the PTO meeting on Tuesday. I need to confirm that the newsletter goes out on Monday or find someone who can go to school and copy and distribute the announcements that the PTO meeting is occurring on Tuesday. I'd really like to get back to running. I'd like to do more on a day to day basis for and with the wee ones.

I knew I was getting burned out in mid to late June. My new boss started in early May. I had my week plus off at the end of August and thought that would be enough to recharge my batteries. I purposely didn't dial into any meetings while away and only checked email a few times. I came back and even that first morning soooooo didn't want to go to work. This is the first time that a vacation hasn't done it for me.

But I work three days a week, two of them from home. And I make more doing that than my husband does working full time. How can I justify giving that up? The situation I have isn't something that you can easily replicate elsewhere. And being completely meanspirited, I work in finance and that sector isn't doing so well. It's possible that my division would be shut down at some point in the next couple of years. The severance would be really nice.

For now, though, my alarm will be set for 5:40 on Monday. I'll leave my mom detailed instructions of what pictures to take of Little Miss. I'll call to make sure the handoff went well. And while I'm at work, I'll have plenty of moments wishing I weren't there, regretting that I'm not with my wee ones, and wondering if I'm doing the right thing.

6 comments:

Cookie September 6, 2008 at 9:47 PM  

We've all had this debate. To work or not to work... Consider yourself lucky enough to have the choice. And from what I've found is that the grass is always greener on the other side!

James September 7, 2008 at 12:40 AM  

However, the recommendation is to have your child in the least restrictive environment possible, and I was hoping that this would mean the private preschool we'd signed Little Miss up for. They were concerned about her balance and stability, however, and strongly recommended that she attend his school.

Angela September 7, 2008 at 9:24 AM  

I feel for you, I really do. I have had so many people tell me they feel strongly one way or the other and that when we have kids I will "definitely" feel this way or that way. I have told everyone that at least for now, as long as we can, I want to stay home with our kids (at least until they are in kindergarten etc.) I'm like you and don't want to miss those moments, but several women have told me I'm crazy and said oh, you'll want to work, you'll be going nuts staying home. But I truly think I'll be content to be home with the kids and maybe work from home a bit. We'll see!!

Meanwhile, of course based on that I would encourage you to take your feelings seriously, but then again, if you only work part time, you needn't feel bad if you occasionally miss a day or an event here or there. So don't beat yourself up - I would tell you to go with your instincts. I definitely understand the income considerations, which loom for us as well. But run the numbers and see what you're most comfortable doing. Would your office consider just letting you work entirely from home, in order to keep you?

Mabunny September 7, 2008 at 12:27 PM  

I understand how you feel Michelle. Fortunately I've finaly gotten into a position where I can work at Nicoles school! I love it, I've already subbed twice and am atm signed up for 5 more days!
That way I see her in the morning, we get home at the same time in the afternoon and all that jazz. It really is better this way , for us at least.
I hope you share the pics of Little Miss and her first day! Hope all else goes well too!

Angie's Spot September 7, 2008 at 5:02 PM  

Being a mom in this day & age is so tough. We're given the challenge to "make it work" and "have it all", but that's such a tough decision because we all want such different things.

I feel sure that you are doing what's right for your family because I truly think that if you weren't, you would know it.

Making the decision to work, even part time, is hard because no matter how the chips fall, there's always going to be some momentous occasion that we miss.

To keep my personal perspective on things, I just try to remember that even if I'm missing an event, at least there is a family member not missing it. And compared to my hubby, I get to see 10x more special times than he does. It's the sacrifices that we make.

Hang in there! You're a great mom!

Michelle September 7, 2008 at 9:05 PM  

Cookie - The grass is always greener. Which is why I used to work full time then did SAHM for six months before going back to the current job. *sigh* And yes, I definitely am lucky enough to have the choice, but a big part of that is because I worked my butt of before having kids and am somewhat ummm frugal. I believe in living below my means!

James - Welcome! I'm assuming you meant to comment on that part of the post and quoted it for that reason, but ... your part of the comment got lost?

Angela - Yep. I was very firmly a "I want to be a SAHM" before I had kids. Then I forget why but I went back to work full time. (As in I know I had a reason but truly don't remember!) I think if you do SAHM from the start, it's much easier than starting it when they're toddlers. Now would be a really fun time to stay at home though... And so the path of indecision continues.

MaBunny - Yep, substitute teaching like what you're doing would be a fun route to go. I'm leaving my fully charged camera with instructions for my mom to take pics, so I'll try to upload them after I get home from work tomorrow. Pray to GOD she has a bus to get onto for daycare tomorrow! Oh, and I already work two days from home and go in only one day. I'm senior enough that I need to show my face, so I don't see going down in facetime as feasible. But I'll probably be having a chat with my SVP in the next couple weeks. Hopefully I can hold off until after my October 2 week vacation and see how I feel then.

Angie - It is, isn't it? And actually, part of my doubt comes from wondering if I'm doing the right things by them. But I have such a great gig (on paper). How do I give that up?

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