I’ve previously written about the fact that my son goes to cultural childcare during the week. Or, as we like to call it, Abuela’s house. My son has the good fortune of spending eight hours every weekday with one of my favorite people: my mother-in-law. Yes, you read that correctly. My mother-in-law takes care of my son while I work AND I love her. Imagine that! Now that the school year is ending, and I will become the sole caregiver for my son throughout the summer months. I thought my mother-in-law deserved a special shout out (even though she doesn’t do the whole Internet thing).
The childcare arrangement we have has its benefits and its downfalls. On the upside, my son is with family. My husband and I trust my mother-in-law wholeheartedly. She loves my son deeply, she takes care of his belongings and keeps him clean, and I know she gives him good, playful one-on-one attention. It’s also much cheaper than conventional daycare. OH. And she speaks Spanish to him. Yay for bilingual babies!
On the downside, my son is not interacting with other children on a regular basis—which means less germs, but also means that when we get together with friends, my kid might hit yours with a plastic golf club because he doesn’t know any better.
But really, that’s it. Our situation works great for us. My mother-in-law is a saint, and when I got pregnant, the question or topic of childcare didn’t even come up. It was a given that Abuela would watch her first grandson. Not only do we pay oodles less than most people who have to opt for conventional daycare/home daycare/nanny, but we also have the satisfaction of incredible flexibility.
Summer is here. I am officially not a teacher right now. However. For two weeks during the summer, my husband supervises a summer school grade recovery program. For one week in the summer, I will need to participate in trainings and orientation sessions. Periodically, I will probably read curriculum materials and novels as well as revamp my lesson plans for the next school year. And during those times, we will need childcare.
I have many friends and co-workers who have to put their children in daycare on a regular basis and throughout summer to “keep their slots” at daycare. I can’t wrap my mind around this because I’ve never had to face it, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. I also know people who have to drop their kids at certain times or wait because the daycare is just not staffed to accommodate a high number of kids at once. Then there are those single moms who have to put their kids in daycare in order to survive, even on days the kid (or the mom) feels a little under the weather. Some moms have to deal with the logistics and transportation of children being in school at different times of the day. But my situation? Flexibility. And I know how much of a blessing it is. I really do. And I thank my mother-in-law all.the.time.
If on a weekday during this summer, I need to go to the library and spend some time studying, reading, working on lesson plans, I can just call Abuela up and ask if she can hang with my boy for a while. His toys, spare clothes, playpen, and Abuela’s arms await him. She will be ecstatic, she’ll tell me to be gone as long as I want, and I can go do my thing without a care in the world. If I’m still working at a high school that starts at an ungodly hour when my son begins elementary school, my mother-in-law will drive him. Simple as that. These little blessings lift off so much working mom stress.
Another important aspect of daily life I never have to worry about is food. When my son first started eating solids, I would buy produce for him and make sure my mother-in-law’s pantry was stocked. I’d bring over bananas, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, pears. And she would give him whatever I asked her to give him as he was getting used to the world of food. Now, we don’t need to be “careful” or “experiment” anymore. And ladies, my mother-in-law is Puerto Rican. Enough said, right? If I give her the go to feed my son, she feeds my son. She gives him chicken, rice and beans for lunch as opposed to the messy turkey and cheese sandwich or canned green beans I might give him if I was in a pinch. My mother-in-law is so used to taking care of everybody, making home-cooked meals, tending to the house, ironing her husband’s work clothes… that taking care of my kid? Piece of cake. Rum cake, that is. Or flan. She makes both.
So, here’s to you, Abuela. Here’s to the almost nine months you have been my son’s daily childcare. Here’s to a few days during the summer when I can drop my little dude off and say “Adios” for a few hours. Here’s to the first schools days in late August when you will welcome your grandson into your home for eight hours a day again. And here’s to the fact that you love every minute of it.
Photo Credit (homepage): http://www.merchantcircle.com