Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

Everyone always says that parenting is the hardest job in the world. Before I had kids I would hear this and kind of think ‘yeah, yeah, whatever, how hard can it be?’, a fact for which the universe has repaid me abundantly. Now, I was never a particularly unselfish person before I had kids and truth be told, I still sometimes leave TroTro on a little longer than I should just because I want to finish my chapter but I, like every other mammy I know out there, try to consider what’s best for my children when making life decisions.

Of course, this is hard to do. Oh, I’m sorry…I think I may have just blatantly made the understatement of the UNIVERSE. Holy play dates and babysitters, batman – how the HELL do people know how to do this crap?

For example: When Bisky was only five weeks old, I had a dream opportunity to participate as a mentor for a professional women’s organization. The goal of the organization was to help women develop their skills and attain their career goals. Because of my passion to be a coach, this experience was critical and I was so excited to be part of it. Then I found out that the ONLY requirement was to attend a full day training and networking session. The problem? Bisky was breastfeeding exclusively and I was concerned about introducing a bottle too soon. Not only that, I wasn’t exactly an overabundant producer and I was quite frankly completely undone about how I was going to produce a whole day’s worth of milk when I didn’t exactly have any extra. So I explained my situation and asked if it was possible I only attend for 4 hours and was told no and the organizer suggested perhaps I was not ready to be a mentor and should just focus on my motherhood commitments for now. I was pretty crushed but figured when I looked back I’d probably want to have made the choice in favor of my baby. Looking back, I was probably overreacting on the bottle thing, but I was a brand new mom and so did what I thought was best. It’s been over four years and I have mostly let go of my resentment against a  FREAKING WOMEN’S SUPPORT ORGANIZATION NOT TAKING MY BRAND NEW MOMMYHOOD STATUS INTO ACCOUNT!!!!  Ahem…I said mostly.

When I had the twins, someone very high up at the company I worked for told me that my career as a leader in that company was over but that I should focus on my children anyway because they’d only be little once. I believe at the time that this person actually believed he knew what was best for me, but it wasn’t a good feeling to have that decided for me. On the other hand, I still chose to move my family to Washington knowing that physical distance from the ‘locus of power’ at that particular company was not exactly conducive to longevity.

IMG_2395Once the twins came, we had to choose how we’d take care of them. Options were me full time, Dreamy full time, someone in our house, or taking everyone outside the house. This is THE CHOICE…the one that everyone with a child has to make in some way. Most of the time I believe that if I plan carefully and work hard, I can darn near achieve any dream, but this issue is really, really tough to navigate. Keep in mind that the ultimate preferred situation (Dreamy’s business supporting the family, me with the kids 70% of the time with some help so I can coach, write and consult with a few preferred clients) is not an available option.  Much like Diet Pepsi is rarely an available option at all the vending machines I go to in this Diet Coke world, even though it is so delicious, except this situation has a lot more guilt attached by making a bad choice.

So, with no Diet Pepsi, we must do our best with substandard alternatives. Although Dreamy staying home full time while I worked is probably most attractive financially, and the kids would love it, I think it might kill both our souls eventually. And soulless parents are not fun, life-affirming parents. A lot of people I really like and respect have their kids in full time daycare from a very early age and are very satisfied with this decision but a) we can’t afford it and b) my gut says that is not the best place for my littles. They are a lot like me and so can easily be misunderstood as unruly or perhaps dangerous by people who don’t understand them.  And it turns out my little business is actually quite successful so stopping at this point or scaling back, although it would give me lots of time with the children and reduce our child care costs, would require us to live in our car, and with all the car seats there is not a lot of room for sleeping.

So this leaves someone coming in to help us which leaves me with one big question. What the blankety blank blank is WRONG with people and/or our culture??? Seriously, the situation is a hot mess. Your options if you want someone to come to your house range from a licensed, experienced full time Nanny to a babysitter. Au pairs are sort of in the middle, as they live in to provide child care and presumably have experience, but are young and don’t have a lot of life experience usually.  Our situation is somewhat unique given my goals of building a business exclusively to hire people to work in it so I can be with my kids and working from home. Because Tony and I are usually at home, we don’t think we need someone with a medical degree on call all the time but still…it is just im-freaking-possible!

I’m running into 3 basic categories: Seasoned nannies or their agents who charge an arm and a leg and act like you don’t love your kids if you don’t agree that hanging out singing songs and playing games should be paid $30 an hour when you’re in my home, feeding them my food, etc.  Seriously, they do this. And they really believe they should be paid more than many teachers.  Many of them are moms themselves and need to be paid so much so they can afford childcare for THEIR kids because they can’t afford to stay home with them. I don’t know, but that just seems nuts to me. Second category are people who don’t charge a lot because they are stay at home moms who just need extra money. They will look after your kids at your house or theirs, but they have their kids with them. This is a great option but not for someone with three energetic kids. I frankly don’t want one more kid in my house and I don’t want to take my kids somewhere else. The live in solution should be good but there is such a sense of entitlement and you also get a ton of accompanying drama. Not only that, au pairs and live in nannies collude. One of the things they collude about is how bad it is to work for a work from home mom. I’ve had people tell me TO MY FACE that my being around makes their job too hard so I should stay away. Okay, sure, I’ll get right on that….NEVER.

And then there’s playschool or not to playschool. Co-op vs not. How many days a week? Or playdates, of which I’m averaging 1 every 1.5 years so I hope they don’t end up being critical to development.

And that’s just the easy stuff! You just need to go online to be positively bombarded with vaccinate vs not, cry it out vs never cry, breast vs bottle. This debates can go to the DEATH. It’s no joke!

So again, we do what we think is best and when the result is decreased earning potential or opportunities we look at these little lives who depend on us so much and think….’you better grow up and invent the next Facebook, kid, or I’ll be on an all cat food diet in about 20 years’.

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