Saturday, June 11, 2011

Work: Breaking up is hard to do

Though I normally tune out when someone starts recounting a dream, I need to share one that I had a few nights ago.

I was at Little E's daycare waiting for some sort of student show to begin and I was angry.  The show, it seemed, was delayed and I was sitting cross-legged and sullen in a child-sized chair.  Head cocked, I glared at the center director and snapped my gum impatiently as she smiled politely and offered a continous stream of awkward apologies and acknowledgements of my patience, all while the rest of the parents squirmed in their little seats at the tension.  The dream ended when I stood up and announced that I would be heading out to the lobby to make a phone call --to our new daycare.

I didn't need an analyst to tell me that I was feeling anger toward the daycare; I'd spent enough of my waking hours stewing over the misunderstanding with Little E's registration for next year to be well aware of that.  I did think it was a neat trick of my subconscious, though, to bring together all of my personae in one room.

There was my crazy mom side, the one I keep in check almost always, the one who comes out primarily when I recount for my husband what I should have said in any number of situations.  In the gum cracking and cocked-head glaring was my inner bitchy 15-year-old, a version of me that I find myself in much closer touch with than many women my age simply because of my everyday proximity to a fair number of sullen teenagers. The director, though the object of my crazy self's rage, was also me in a sense, the teacher trying frantically to figure out what to say to mollify the seemingly irrationally angry parent. My polite and reasonable everyday self that works so hard to squelch the crazy mom side was present, too, in the form of the other parents in the room.

In thinking through my concerns about Little E's daycare, I've been feeling all awhirl as my various selves weigh in on how best to manage.  While crazy mom gets all feral at the first inkling that someone might be treating her baby unfairly, her more rational, albeit somewhat cynical counterpoint, the realistic teacher points out that Little E is not the only child in the daycare and not every parent request can honored nor can every child's needs be expressly catered to.  Still, the sulking teenager thinks the whole thing is so not fair, and is thoroughly pissed off at the director's power trip after we've been sending our kids there for six years now.  And while my reasonable everyday self grits her teeth at the shoddy treatment in the face of six years worth of tuition, she plasters on a tense smile because she knows that for now she still has to leave her kid with these people every day for the next couple of weeks.

Being a mother has been both a help and a hindrance at work; though I'm much more sympathetic and understanding than I was before I had kids, my commitment to the job is limited by my devotion to my family.  Similarly, being a teacher has both helped me in interacting with my daughters' teachers by giving me some insight as to their viewpoint, and it has also hurt at times when I've hesitated --sometimes at my kids' expense-- to be the difficult parent that I myself dread dealing with at work. 

In this case, reasonable me won out for the most part, though my teenage self was in evidence insofar as I chose to phone in my daycare breakup just as I did my high school breakup, though with much less name-calling and without a pre-written script and an audience of girlfriends urging me on.  I was pleasant but firm in explaining my decision to remove Little E from the program, and I only let crazy mom out when I reenacted for my husband what I would have said had Little E not been sitting right next to me when I called.

In all, I felt good about the way I handled it. Which is not to say that I can promise there won't any glaring or gum snapping when I go in to pick up Little E on her last day.
It's probably childish that I want to share this picture of Little E enjoying the superior playground at the new daycare with the director of her current daycare.  But would it really be a break up without a little pettiness?

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