This post originally appeared on my Facebook page back in August. If you’ve already read it, skip to the end for new evelopments.
I had a job interview today. And I had to bring my toddler along.
I didn’t have to bring him to the actual interview, but I did have to bring him into Manhattan to drop him off at Mom and Buried’s office. Because childcare is expensive. And I’m not working. (Hence the interview.)
Every once in a while, there’ll be a story in the news about a mom who left her kid at the park while she ran to a job interview, or a dad who slept on a McDonald’s bench during his shift. They usually get vilified.
At least until the full story comes out and people realize they were just doing whatever they could to improve their family’s lot.
I get it. I’ve probably passed judgment myself. At least until the full story came out. And definitely before I had to deal with something similar.
Childcare is expensive. Babysitters, daycare, preschool, camp; it can break your back. Especially when your income is scarce. Especially if you don’t have family nearby to help.
I’m lucky that my wife is working. And that the jobs I’m in the market for have benefits and pay relatively well. But they don’t pay yet.
So I did what I had to do, which meant dragging my exhausted toddler on the subway, letting him sleep on me, then carrying him 8 blocks, all while wearing a full suit on the hottest day in history. By the time we made it to my wife’s office, I was literally dripping with sweat.
It wasn’t easy. It sounds crazy, but it was actually very inconvenient for him to fall asleep on the train like that! But I was lucky my wife was around and able to take him for a few hours while she finished up her day so I could keep my interview.
And at least I didn’t have to drag him in with me. Not everyone has that luxury. Not when in between a rock and a hard place.
Everyone has challenges. I don’t know a single person who isn’t struggling with something – multiple things – financially or otherwise.
We’re all taking shortcuts to get by, doing what we can to survive as people and provide as parents. Some shortcuts are harder – and more desperate – than others. But let’s try to cut each other some slack!
And message me if you have cheap daycare.
This post originally appeared on my Facebook page back in August. I got a lot of positive response, including commiseration from people in similar boats and plenty of words of encouragement. A lot of commenters also wanted to know if I got the job, and guess what? I did!
I’m thrilled to be back at work, but a full-time job presents its own set of childcare challenges, especially now that both my wife and I are working. Daycare for my toddler is expensive and not always comprehensive, he has speech therapy which requires visiting an entirely different location three days a week, and when my 4th grader gets off the bus in mid-afternoon, he needs someone to both walk him home and care for him once he gets there.
Don’t get me wrong. I needed a job and am glad I got one. I much prefer working to staying at home, for many reasons, but it’s not a cure-all. Mom and Buried is also happy to be back at work after a few years staying at home with The Hammer, but she misses the daily bonding time with our kids. Plus, the cost of childcare – which is currently a hodgepodge of daycare and babysitters – offsets a lot of the money we bring in. At a certain point, it’s hard not to question if the trade-off is worth it.
The fact is, none of this is easy, and it all requires compromise, sacrifice, and, if you’re lucky, a flexible work environment and an understanding boss.
Or else a winning lottery ticket.