Two years ago, around this very time, I was looking for a caregiver for the girls. I was due back to work after being home with Frances for a few months. Our sitter from the year before had gotten into small-scale farming, and wanted to be able to volunteer in her boys’ classrooms. And our sitter from the year before that—when I returned to work after having Nora—had moved away to Virginia.
I had found these two women—Nora’s first sitters—on Craigslist (sketchy, I know, but it worked out great). So, in an attempt to score yet another great, third sitter, I tried Craigslist again. However, after scanning many, many ads, I found only potential caregivers who used incorrect grammar and couldn’t be bothered to capitalize the appropriate letters in their ads. Surely these people would be getting nowhere near my children.
Next, I decided to reach out to our newly established neighborhood E-mail network. Through this, we found Candace, the woman who watched the girls for the past two years.
I can remember meeting her for the first time. She walked to our house with her daughter, Tella, and we chatted for awhile. It didn’t take long for me to approve. She mentioned early on in our conversation that she too, co-slept with her daughter (at that time the same age as Nora—two) and was still doing extended breastfeeding.
After hearing just those two tidbits of information, it took everything in me to not be like—You’re hired! When can you start?
I kept myself in check, called all her references, and then said, “You’re hired! When can you start?!”
She spent two years with our kiddos, watching Frances from four months until this past March, and Nora from age two to four, a significant time for both girls developmentally.
She was a fount of knowledge for me on topics such as tandem nursing, baby led weaning, the Fertility Awareness Method, and much more—namely, how to maintain one’s sanity while raising children.
Beyond all this, we shared similar notions about kiddie nutrition, limited exposure to technology, and the importance of spending time outside. She brought craftiness, music, and dancing into our home and was known to scrub out the microwave on occasion, just because.
Also, Frances sometimes forgets that Candace is in fact, not her mom, and that I am instead.
It was such a comfort to have her looking after the girls and minding our house while we were at work. Not to mention the convenience of having someone come to us. The kids could often just stay in their jammies and the breastmilk remain in the freezer.
This past spring, Candace’s husband got accepted into pharmacy school in Erie. They moved two weeks ago. Nora seems to be handling things OK for the moment, though she’s gotten a little wild in the afternoons now that her favorite playmate is gone. Frances is somewhat confused. She doesn’t understand that when we walk past Candace’s house (really, the house of her in-laws), Candace no longer lives there, and lives instead somewhere else we can’t see or visit.
It’s been hardest on me, I think, losing a neighborhood friend and advisor, a trustworthy childcare provider and—perhaps most importantly—someone to whom I can bitch and moan when I need to, or rescue me by taking the girls for a few hours at a time.
Even though the time has come to move on, I know we will remain friends (more like family) forever. And hopefully still have monthly visitation, due to in-laws living right down the street from us.
So who will watch the kids now? Interestingly enough, we have come full circle in the childcare evolution. The woman who watched Nora when Nora was Rowan’s age, recently moved back to the area, and has agreed to watch all three kiddos. We are beyond relieved, and so, so grateful to once again have someone we know and love and trust be with the kids when we can’t be. Pretty wonderful how things are working out. And before they did I only had to read and dismiss a handful of really terrible Craigslist ads, with such stellar one-liners as:
we wont watch too much tv, but i will work on reading, righting, and maths with the kids.
Now we just have to get the baby taking a bottle sometime in the next week and two days. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?