Monday, May 7, 2012

The Post Where I Can Now Say Whatever The Hell I Need and Want To Say Again

Have you read Surfacing? It's a stealthily devastating novel, beautiful and horrible and exhausting and exotic and bewildering and interesting and deep and true and dark. It is about the dark layers of water and land, the loamy soil farthest down where bodies sink to decay and be threaded with worms, it is the sunken black blue socket of ocean floor where light is only from the bodies of strange, alien creatures that mystify and terrify. If you could read my face you would read a novel like this today. Today I run my fingers across the bottom and because I have children I think, I would like to lie there, not: I will lie. I will lie down and rest now. 

I'm so tired. I have no complaint that is better than yours or worse than what could be, only the steady and slow decay of hope that life will get easier. I had to quit my job.

I had to quit.

When I birthed Dakota at 19 and held him, nursed him, took him home to lay next to his skinny little newborn body, I said one thing over and over, a fierce promise against the past and for a life of connection, I said I will not leave you. I will not leave you. This meant a million things, it meant I would not let him cry itout- what comes out?- it meant I would not use words to hurt him and turn my back, it meant I would not leave him as a baby or toddler. Over the last seventeen  years it is, to my remembrance, the only line in the sand I have drawn. I will do work I don't want to do at places I don't want to do it, I will put up with rude co-workers and miserable conditions, I will work overtime and I have worked outside work, on the side, all to make it happen. What we do. But. 

I told Mr. Curry, before we were married, there were just a few things he needed to know. Just three.
One of those things was that I would not leave any child of mine in daycare or preschool, nor be separated from them daily, before they were at least 2, or 3. Everyone has their touchstones. Everyone has their demons. Everyone has their secret reasons. I cannot leave my children in the care of another person all day when they are very small. It kills a part of who I am. And if that is dramatic, so be it. It is the same reason I could never have an abortion. Not because I don't think anyone should. Because I know myself, and I know I can't.  It's because there are few things I am solid on in life, and one of them is that when my children are babies and toddlers, I need to be with them, and they need to be with me.  Whatever sacrifices we have had to make in order for this to be true, all were worth it. The connection between my children and I is a daily, living, powerful thing, not something that surfaces only with disaster or heartbreak. It is a connection that I make with working class hands day in and day out from the moment they are born, it is a connection made of human sweat, tears, exhaustion, laughter, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual love, and it is forged inside of time. Moment after moment after moment, strung together until they are similar to atoms, DNA, building blocks, every turn of Ever's head for a baby's silent questioning about what she is seeing or hearing; I am guiding. I am doing. I am loving. That is a mother, to me. That is what I know is a mother, and the promise I made myself and my son 17 years ago has come home again and again, arms full, as I raise four children. 

PART ONE
I had an agreement at work that I could stay with Ever. In the baby room. Something we verbalized during the pregnancy with the baby I lost, and I reconfirmed with Ever's pregnancy, something that was confirmed to me by another person in management only months before. Before now. Before a week ago when I was told that I could not take care of her anymore. So technically, the agreement held. I was technically in the same room as her.  But really? In reality, I would not be her teacher anymore, and not in the same room as her most of the day, as her schedule and mine conflict as we come in and out of the room from stroller rides, outside time, big room time, onward. Most of the day is spent with her gone from me.  I was told in a room full of babies and other adults, while I was changing a diaper. When I gave my two week notice, no compromise was offered after I explained my reason.  I've worked at this place a long, long time. I've loved many things about this job. At times, this place of work has helped me kindly.

As I thought about what to do, the weekend passed. I went back to work. A coworker in another room entirely noticed that on that day, I had Ever with me, when I wasn't supposed to, per the new groups and schedule. She shooed Ever with her hand, ' Come on Ever, let's go back to where you belong, in Group XXX. '  Um. Hell no. I shooed Ever back. Coworker got shaky, squeaky voiced, red faced. Why, she demanded to know - and her voice was demanding- was I not following the carefully crafted schedule that had been set up. She didn't know that one of the teachers in my classroom had gone home sick, or that half our class hadn't shown up for work that day, and the other teacher and I could not 'keep out groups'. But it was none of her business to know this, or not know it. It's not her classroom. She's just that type of person. She's also the type who met me and decided I needed to be taken down a peg. It never fails to amuse me SO MUCH how I meet women who become pissy with me because they think I have such a great, easy, blessed life, with my husband and four beautiful kids and my job where I bring my baby and whatever else they see. Knowing nothing about my life other than snippets they see or hear. Knowing nothing of the backbreaking work is has taken to keep this all going.  Knowing nothing, they judge and their judgement is 'needs to be taken down a peg'.  This coworker went directly to my supervisor and complained- I would bet my nails on it- that I was spending too much time with Ever. That was part of the reason why they decided to do the change. 


PART TWO
We had a meeting to discuss 'what happened' and if I wrote down a transcript of what was said, you wouldn't believe it. 

SUPERVISOR ' So we are here because xxx happened, correct? '

ME ' Yes '

COWORKER FROM HELL (to supervisor) ' Yes well I was incredibly concerned that your well crafted plan wasn't being followed, I mean, when I work somewhere I care about the entire place, not just my own classroom, I'm dedicated to the preschool, I know how much time and effort you put into this elaborate plan and it's such a good plan and I couldn't stand to see it not followed, I just didn't understand... ' And on and on like this, for a good five minutes.  I looked out the window. It was a really pretty day. I saw the raven that hangs around with one leg. He's so cool.

SUPERVISOR ' Yes well I know you tend to have your level go up quickly when you are upset, '
(this to CFH)

ME ' ???? '

SUPERVISOR ' But really you should come to me when you have a thought like this. '

COWORKER FROM HELL ' Oh well I get that but AND HERE SHE BASICALLY REPEATS VERBATIM HER ENTIRE SPEECH SHE SAID A MINUTE AGO. ' 

ME Looking out the window at the trash truck passing by. Ever loves trash trucks.

SUPERVISOR (to both of us) ' Yes well we will be sure to follow the schedule though, right. Because that is the point, they have to get used to other teachers.  '

COWORKER FROM HELL ' Yeah if Ever is attached to your hip all day that's not good, she won't transition.'

ME ' I can't hit people. It goes against my religion. I mean, I'm not religious, but if I was, surely assault would not be OK. I like the IDEA of religious values. So I'll abstain. '


So that's how that went.  Never mind the fact that toddlers don't get used to anything MONTHS BEFORE it actually happens. They can't retain shit, anyone who had taken a single child development class can tell you that. It's why they say don't tell small kids that someone is going to die months before, because they won't retain it anyway. Or if you move. Same advice. Same reasons. Ever is 17 months. She has a long way to go before I had to worry about moving her to the two class. Also? Lola, same parenting, was put into full time preschool at 2 and half and transitioned seamlessly, never even CRIED. That's what happens when your kids are ready. Also? Ever was not attached to my hip all day, not even close. 

For example: The next day at work, I left Ever and three other todders with my supervisor to go on my break. A little girl who is really attached to me cried her eyes out the whole time I was gone, and Ever didn't even blink. Because she feels safe. Because she is safe. She runs around and plays and LOVES it there. 

PART THREE
As Mr. Curry spent days talking about what to do- or not- I went to work on Friday, and this happened: a coworker who has a baby in the baby room had a supervisor come in, assert herself, take over naptime, and assumed control of putting said coworker's baby down to sleep. He cried for a half hour. Screamed, they said. As the supervisor, who my coworker's baby doesn't even know and isn't familiar with, 'put him to sleep.' 

What did you do? I asked her. She shrugged and sighed. Tried to not hear it. 

I knew then. I had to quit.

You know I"m nursing her, right? A toddler. I nurse her to go down to nap, around noon, sometimes a bit earlier or later, and then again when she wakes up. And most days that is it. But it's enough. I have no doubt that nursing a toddler, even in the corner behind cribs with a blanket over her head, is bothering someone ( not naming here ) enough to be an issue.

Damnit.

Damnit, damnit, damnit.

One more week to go. 

I am looking for a job twofold: one as a nanny, bringing Ever, another telecommuting, online, as a writer, editor, social mediasta, et al. Whichever comes first. I am looking at the applications as they slip through my hotmail account into the black hole of the internet. I get no response. I spend hours crafting cover letters for jobs that I would love to have, and ones I would just take, anyway.

One more paycheck.

Then???

PS
I'm so sorry my comments aren't working. Every week I get emails and FB messages that you can't comment, and honestly, it's making me really bummed out. I miss you guys, I miss your voices, I miss talking shit out with you. All my settings are correct, so I don't know what the problem is, and I can't pay someone. Trying to get someone who can help me figure it out.

xo



lulumarie said...

Your love for your children shines through every word. I wish every child could have what yours have.

I'm so sorry certain people make your life more difficult as you strive to live mindfully for your family and yourself. I'm praying (in my own un-religious way) that the "perfect" job will appear very soon so you can have peace of mind to nurture your littlest as you go about your workday.

All good wishes to you and your beautiful family.

liv said...

That was a brilliant post. I love reading your raw truth. And I know that feeling of frustration when you know something so clearly and truly in your heart but so many people around you are nowhere near as awake as you are.

If sending you good thoughts makes any difference, there are a ton of them coming your way!

My "robot word" was Staferm...smile

CitricSugar said...

It amazes me that there are still people in this world who assume that every child is built the exact same way and that the exact same approach works for every individual always regardless of all the little facets and experiences that make up said individuals.

The same people who use the word equity when they mean equality and understand neither concept. Equity and equality are not the same thing and there is no such animal as one-size-fits-all.

So sad and I feel for you and your family. I hope as a teacher that I'm never pressured to do what doesn't work for the staff and students, and by proxy, the families I serve. Policies. A great word to cover up and justify incompetence and busy-bodied nonsense.

Caroline said...

I know exactly how you feel.

Everything will be okay. It will, it will, it will. Visualize what you want, pray for it and keep working hard. That's all you can do. I'm praying for you too and sending love your way, friend.

p.s. After I had baby #3 I quit my job to be home completely with the kids. We sacrificed a car (we share one now) any "extra" you can think of (even the occasional pizza) for that to happen. The budget has been and is beyond tight and it has not been easy, but it works and we make it work even when that means getting creative with just about everything (hello knee patches--it's a new trend, yes?)

You are smart and strong and the best damn writer I know. Hang in there and all good things will come. I believe in you.

LOVE you.

Alexicographer said...

Oh, I am sorry. Except about the part where you can write and say whatever you want, now, that is -- that part is good. The rest, not so much. And I say that as a mom who put my kid in daycare (albeit part time) at 2 months and never looked back: it was, and is, good for me to have time away (and we are blessed with, in addition to good paid care, good extended family care). But that was my choice and this is yours and I do, absolutely, want yours to work.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Someone should hire you to write. Someone would be lucky to be able to hire to you write, honestly. Now, to find that someone...

Catherine said...

Is it possible to have an at home day care center? One where you can promise to spend your time with the children and incorporate some of your beautiful ideas. Not your regular run of the mill day care centers, but a place with music and stories and art and interaction for most of the day from someone who loves to give these little ones attention.

Then a few evenings of writing lessons for those children who having problems with writing for school, for application essays, for anything. Tutoring so to speak. As you get a client or two, look at the SAT writing and see if you can crack it with some high scores that you can then share the info with kids working on that.

But a special niche nursery/daycare might go over very well to parents.

Hugs.

Lily said...

What about starting a home daycare? A lot of friends of mine did this by making connections with other moms in the neighbourhood and the parents of her older kids' friends and they were able to just babysit out of their homes. They didn't need any special licensing because it was just word of mouth.
Or medical transcribing. My sister does this. It's great, you can work when you want and how much you want and you can work from home. Some companies will train you for free and you then pay it off as you work for them. It could be a slow start for earning, but it might be valuable for you later. Something to fall back on in future rough times. There's one called canscribe or inscribe, I forget they'll train you up....

Elizabeth said...

I know it's difficult, but I'm glad you quit your job. I just know that it's all going to work out, and that the change coming is going to be a good one. Have you looked at care.com? It's a fantastic site for both people looking for caregiver jobs and those looking for caregivers. I'd say "hang in there," Maggie, if it weren't such an obnoxiously trite expression. But, hang in there, -- we're all rooting for you!

Heather said...

I commend you for what you did, we live in a world where we are so consumed by things and money, that in our pursuit for these things, all that really matters is lost by the wayside, such as time spent with your children, shaping your child's life, and not letting others or things do it for you.
I hope the best for the future.

Lone Star Ma said...

I'm sorry.

Maggie May said...

Thank you each and everyone who commented and those who tried but instead emailed or Facebooked me. Your words are precious to me, and they embolden me to fear less and live more. I mean that. xo

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