Monday evening I got “‘The Call”—the one every parent who relies on in-home daycare fears.
Or at least I worried that it was “The Call” when my phone rang and I saw my sitter’s number on the caller ID.
If you’re a working mom who isn’t lucky enough to have a relative watch your children, then you know what it’s like to live in fear of “The Call.” It’s the one where the in-home daycare person who’s been caring for your child so well for the past months, years, etc. tells you she has to quit. You’re on your own.
I’ve taken “The Call” once before. Our sitter’s elderly parents had suffered a series of health setbacks, and she needed to care for them full-time, instead of providing in-home daycare for our Little One. I really, really felt for her. I also felt like a desperate, jilted lover–tempted to sob into the phone, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?!
When you lose a sitter, you have to scramble.
Most workplaces aren’t very understanding about an employee missing days due to the loss of in-home daycare, let alone willing to give you a few weeks off while you figure out what to do. So you spend your evenings on the phone and your lunch hours driving to interviews. You worry about how your child will handle the transition to somebody new. In general, you feel really lousy, really harried, and really guilty.
Of course, a day care center provides a bit more stability than an in-home sitter, but centers are much more expensive, and I, personally, feel more comfortable knowing she’s in a cozy house with a limited number of other children. I did look into a center when we lost our last sitter, and guess what – it closed a month later. I feel sorry for the parents who got *that* call.
I’ve always believed that better access to quality, affordable child care could solve a lot of society’s problems.
When welfare reform was a hot topic, I remember thinking it was a no-brainer that if we wanted “welfare moms” to get back to work, then we needed to help them find some place for their children. In the discussion thread of an earlier post, we talked about employers who might pay women less because they feared they would leave after having children.
Perhaps companies that want to retain good female workers could consider providing on-site daycare centers. That’s not a luxury amenity for a lot of women—it could just be a lifesaver. I know I’d be willing to dish out a big chunk of my paycheck just to know my daughter was close by. I’d even get to work earlier, since it would eliminate the morning drop-off.
As it turns out, the call I received on Monday wasn’t “The Call.”
Our sitter’s son was sick, and she wanted to know if our daughter could go to her mom’s house the next day while he recovered. We’re lucky to have a great caregiver who has given no indication she’ll need to be terminating any time soon. But I’m always on guard. I cringe every time the phone rings and I see her number in the caller ID window. You never know what will happen, or when you’ll find yourself on the other end of the phone line wanting to cry, “Please! Don’t go! We can work this out!”
It’s one of the perils of being a working mom, I guess. And I haven’t even mentioned the time when *I* had to make “The Call” because a sitter wasn’t the right fit. That’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post…