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Nursery School, Nannies and Returning to Work

09/05/2014

Belle

Sabine holding a nature revival in Maine. This is my favorite photo from our vacation (which I need to share with you all!)

Sabine holding a nature revival in Maine. This is my favorite photo from our vacation (which I need to share with you all!)

I need to be honest with you guys – I am not in love with being a stay-at-home mom.

I feel horrible saying that. Yes, I am so lucky to get to be with Sabine during these precious days and yes I am relishing each and every one of them. Seriously relishing because I know I will not have a second chance to experience this. Sabine will be our only.

That said, I miss going to work. I was so pumped about being my own boss and being a part-time personal trainer when we moved here that I overlooked how much I actually like being part of a creative team and how much I enjoy going to work. I miss marketing more than I ever thought I would and find myself looking at job posting regularly and day dreaming about suits and button ups as I put on another navy or grey t-shirt and cargo shorts (my mom uniform as of late).

I have talked to the Professor about this and he is, um, not super stoked. We spent quite a lot of money to send me to school to be a personal trainer and I still have not prepared for and taken my certification exams. I passed the school portion with a 95% average, which is great. I was told I will be an excellent trainer and have what it takes. But, my heart just is not where I thought it was. Gym clothes 24-7 does not sound as yummy as it did when I thought I wanted to be home with Sabine until college do we part.

Childcare is a major issue with my going back to work full-time. We can’t afford childcare until I am working, but here you have to enroll your kids at least a year before you are ready to send them around here. Will I be able to find work to pay for the childcare if we enroll her? I will have been out of the field for two years by then. Will anyone hire me for a marketing gig???

We do agree that we are not ready to send our baby who can’t talk, and can’t walk, off to daycare in a big, crime ridden city. I know this sounds crazy and people do it all the time but we are worried sick about it. We both agree that we’ll be ready once she can come home and say, “Mama, something bad happened today.” and have some concept of “Stranger danger.”

We had  a nanny one day a week while I was in school and it was lovely but… not for us. Nanny culture here is that they act as parent, arranging play dates at other kids’ homes and taking the kids out to run errands and such. The problem is that the nannies don’t tell the parent where they are going. I would have no idea where our nanny took Sabine during the day and I never knew the homes she took her into. Were they child-proofed? Were they clean? Did she eat something she should not have? I had no way of knowing.

Call me over protective or crazy or whatever, but I am not cool with this. The icing on the “no nanny cake” was when I realized our nanny was taking Sabine all the way down to Broadway to run her personal errands. Broadway is a busy street and not always the safest. I am only comfortable taking myself down there during business hours and am always careful when Sabine is with me. People drive like lunatics, accidents happen regularly and there is a good bit of riff raff.

We interviewed other nannies and were surprised to find a lot of push back when we said we were not comfortable with this. I am more than comfortable with walks in our neighborhood, visits to the park across the street and regularly scheduled activities at organized public events like library time but just don’t feel comfortable letting a nanny run free with my kiddo and take her to into homes I do not know. This kind of trust is built over time with a nanny and as your child grows and develops a shred of common sense. It is not ok when your 8 month-old is still trying to taste cat turds she dug out of the litter box (thank heavens we are passed that now!)

So the nanny is out as a childcare option.

Yesterday I decided I was done running in hypothetical circles with my husband and I went to tour a nursery school at the local Presbyterian Church and it was LOVELY. The school has a Parent/Toddler program for littles like Sabine and then at 2 they can enroll in their “2’s Program,” which has a slew of scheduling options at deliciously realistic prices (still high compared to Kentucky but very reasonable by NYC standards). The school was clean and adorable and all the teachers were delightful and clearly loved what they were doing.

I fell in love. It felt safe, secure and happy there. They offer an instructional based curriculum meaning the kids don’t just run free for 6 hours each day, which I think is really important. I want Sabine to be learning WHILE she plays. It feels like such a good fit for us!

Today I went back and registered her for the fall Parent/Toddler Program. Starting in October we will together for 75 minutes twice a week to play, learn and sing. It is a great way to warm her up to the school and check it out. Next week the Professor’s mother will be visiting (also known as “The Investor” and “She Who Kindly Paid for IVF”) and we will take a tour together and then sit down to discuss some options for enrolling Sabine when she turns 2.

My emotions are not where I thought they would be with this. I feel such peace knowing that I can stay with her one more year, until she can talk and walk and that there is part-time or full-time school for her at 2. I am excited to see her grow and gain a little independence next year and am really excited to look at returning to the work force myself. And I am SO relieved to not have to have another discussion with another nanny about my overbearing wishes, too. I am also a little afraid the Professor will not agree! But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Until then, I am going to day dream about watching my lovely little Lamb grow up and start a special school.

How do my fellow stay-at-home mom’s feel about their new “role.” Anyone else surprised at how they feel? And my readers who went back to work, how do you feel? Has anyone started with a part-time 2’s program and then bumped to full-time preschool at 3?

The Name Game

09/02/2014

Belle

Four years ago I married the Professor. Four years ago I thought it would be a great idea to change my middle name to my pen name, Belle, while also changing my last name (hyphenated with my maiden) to reflect my marriage. I filled out my paperwork and off I went to Social Security. I asked the young, pimply guy if I could also change my middle name from Beth to Belle at the same time I was changing my middle name from Maiden to Maiden-Married.

“Sure!” he said. “Why?”

“Because Belle is my pen name and I would like to take it as a legal middle name.”

“OK!”

“Is that all I have to do?” I asked.

“Yep. You are good to go.”

And that was that. I updated my bank accounts, my health insurance, my everything with the new name of Sarah Belle Maiden-Married.

My reasons for changing the middle name are complex. I had blogged under Belle for many years (even before Scrambled Eggs came along), I never felt any spiritual attachment to Beth, many friends at the time called me Belle or Sarah Belle and, honestly, I wanted the chance to reinvent myself. I knew our time in Kentucky was limited and looked towards our next home as the chance to officially shift to exclusively being called Belle.

Time passed and three years later we moved to New York. Here was my bright, shining chance to reinvent myself. No one knew me here so I could easily introduce myself as Belle but… I didn’t. It just did not flow off my tongue like I had hoped. I realized that Belle worked so naturally with my friends in Alabama because they were the ones who had given me the nickname. In Alabama, being called Belle is something that the people I know and connect deeply with do. Yes, I have made excellent friends in NY who I also hold dear, but it just didn’t feel right to have them call me Belle.

A year after moving to NYC and I’m still stalled in my career and identity, even with a shiny new middle name. I have irons in three different fires and not one of them feels “right.” Is this the fault of the name? Oh my gosh, no. I know that a name does not make or break the person. Taking the middle name Belle, though, had a lot of spiritual significance but at this particular junction in my life, I feel very little connection to it.

Belle is a nickname. My bloggers who I love know me as it and some of my nearest, dearest friends call me it. And that is all.

So now we get to the really sticky, annoying part of this journey – my social security card says it.

I have been trying for SIX freaking months now to get an NY drivers license so we can please get a car so I can please get to a grocery store and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GAWD select my own produce ( continued car rant for another day). Each time I go to the DMV, which requires excruciating planning with Sabine and a bus and train ride, I am turned down. The first two times I did not have proper documentation (you need everything just shy of a blood type here) and the third time I was rejected because I did not have court paperwork for changing my middle name.

What? According to the social security kid I had changed it when I changed my last name. And it was legal. And binding. And I did not have to do anything else. Turns out he was wrong. Quite wrong actually, and I never should have been allowed to change my middle name at the time of changing my last name due to marriage.

I have spent the past four weeks digging into what I can do to correct this problem. I can’t get a driver’s license and now my KY license is expired. My passport is still in my maiden name because I’m lazy and cheap and saw no reason to update it till travel made it necessary. I’ve been living under this assumed name for four years now and bought a house under it and no one questioned.

After a lot of researching (and being treated like a criminal at times) I was presented with two options:

  1. Go to court and legally change it.
  2. Go to the social Social Security Office and change my middle name back to Beth.

Honestly, neither are attractive and both require an insane amount of work. If I change it back to Beth I have to update everything that has Belle on it, including poor Sabine’s birth certificate. Changing it back would be a relatively quick fix, though, and should mean I can have a NY license in the next two weeks AND that we can finally get a car (so I can please buy groceries the old-fashioned way).

This entire ordeal has prompted a sort of identity crisis for me. Sarah Beth was a successful editor and communications pro. Sarah Belle… well, she is just stuck. The realist side of me totally knows this has nothing to do with what my name is, but my spiritual self is convinced otherwise. My solution? Hide from the problem and drink beer!

Not really, but boy do I wish.

Today I went to Social Security and had it changed back to Beth. Once I have my new card I will update all my other things and then proceed on like nothing happened, with a happy NY drivers license and, hopefully, a happy little NY car.

Do I feel any different now that I’m back to Sarah Beth legally and remain Sarah Belle in the blog world and with my dearest friends? Nope. Am I any more clear on my place in life and what I’m supposed to do career wise? Nope. Am I finally finishing this fiasco so I can hopefully start dedicating some real time to the core issue here (my career crisis)? Yep.

So there you have it. That is where I have been, and will likely continue to be for a while. I am sure this is not the last you have heard of the career crisis either.

Goose Poop

08/12/2014

Belle

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Today I had to clean goose poop out of my butt crack. But first…

I’m sorry for the silence the last few weeks. I have had a rough run and decided that when there is nothing good to say, it is probably best to say nothing at all.

I have not been feeling well. I have been very tired and my feet and ankles have hurt more than normal. When I wake at night to use the bathroom they hurt so bad I have a hard time moving from bed to toilet without falling. Other things have been happening that are unnerving as well. Unlike “normal” people, when I go to the doctor and am not feeling well I am not told to first improve my lifestyle (eat better, sleep more, exercise, etc.) Instead a battery of scary tests are ran to see if the lupus they think I have is escalating. My kidneys are meticulously examined. My liver. My lungs. My skin. My joints. This time 8 vials of blood were drawn and 12 x-rays were taken. I spent the next 8 days in a downward spiral of panic. Surely this was it. My good luck was out.

Today we rented a Zip car for the day to take my cat to the vet for her 6 month check to see how the radioactive iodine treatment we gave her worked. I was also waiting for my test results. Between the two I was a wreck. Since we had to drop Yum Yum off for the day, we decided to have a day trip and enjoy some family time. We went to Muscoot Farms to let our Old McDonald fan enjoy some real farm animals. Sabine had a blast and I enjoyed a little distraction from more pressing matters.

Halfway through the trip Sabine and I were playing in the grass and she crawled into me full force while I was crouched. I fell backwards and she giggled hysterically. Then I stood up and felt something wet at the top of my butt crack.

“Babe,” I said as I flagged the Professor down. “What is on/in my pants?”

He started to laugh. “Looks like you rolled in some goose poop!”

I groaned and he inspected further. “Um, it’s in your butt crack. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

He cleaned up the poo the best he could and then I went to the bathroom to clean some more and remove my underwear. Later that afternoon I texted my Mama friends and my eternally optimistic buddy pointed out that being pooped on by a bird is good luck. Surely rolling in fresh goose poop is SUPER lucky. And she was right.

Shortly after that my doctor called – the tests are clear. I am ok. Time to work on cleaning up my lifestyle and managing my stress better. Then my sweet cat was ready and we got good news on her, too. She is cured.

Stress is a powerful creature. It has completely ruled the last two weeks of my life and was an excellent reminder of how very important self-care is. We are heading to Maine on vacation at the end of this week. When we return it is time I make some changes. I need to eat better. I need to exercise again. I need to return to yoga. I need to take care of ME and that care does not mean letting the Professor watch Sabine while I cook dinner.

So that is where I have been lately – worrying that I might be dying while all was really just fine. Thank you to the wonderful readers who have reached out to me. I love you all and appreciate the kind words. I have a few posts brewing about self-care. Until then, go hug your spouse/pets/children/parents or whoever it is you hold dear and remember what really matters in life – not the goose poop in your butt crack, but the person who will help wipe it out of there.

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