Almost exactly six months ago, I shared that Dan and I decided to put Selah in daycare two days a week. We had been tag-teaming childcare responsibilities while both juggling full-time work, and once she became a toddler (aka more energy + less daytime napping), we needed a new system.
Well, the new system didn’t work so well. After a few weeks in this new setting, Selah started to backslide, and even though we tried everything we could think of, she just never adjusted. I think this situation was not a good fit for her in a number of ways, and her increasing distress was telling us that. In December, we acknowledged that this wasn’t working and that we would have to revise again.
Giving myself permission to revise has been essential in all things adulthood: my career, my parenting, my faith. But man, I just wanted this to work the first time. It took me forever to find a caregiving situation that would be a good fit, and I did not want to go back to the drawing board. Not to mention the fact that I had lost some faith and trust in myself. I thought this first place was going to be a great setup for Selah, and I was wrong. How could I trust myself to find a caregiver that actually would be a good fit? And would Selah trust me to drop her off someplace new?
After a few months of dragging my heels and going back to working at home with Selah two days a week, it became absolutely clear that something had to change. (On a particularly tough day of juggling Selah’s demands to “pyay!” with the demands of my inbox, I stormed up the stairs and told Dan, “I can’t take it anymore! She needs other kids! And I need some quiet!”)
After many emails, phone calls, and visits, we found an in-home preschool run by a sweet older woman and her daughter, and their passion for kids and desire to be a second family made us feel comfortable and confident placing Selah there. She has been attending for three weeks now, and so far, there have been fewer tears with each goodbye. She is slowly warming up to the other kids and learning to trust us when we say, “Mommy and Daddy always come back!” And I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic that this might work for the foreseeable future.
But if it doesn’t, I will revise. (Even if I have to grit my teeth through it.)
Here’s what I learned, loved, and read in March.
What I Learned
- The rice trick works…to a point. I dropped my phone in water a few weeks ago, and immediately put that baby in a bag of rice. Two days later my phone still seemed wonky, but on the third day, it appeared to have been resurrected. Until the fourth way, when it officially became toast. Fortunately, Verizon was running a great trade-in promotion that weekend, so I was able to upgrade without losing much money, but I was pretty mad at myself. On the bright side, it was surprisingly nice to be completely unplugged for a few days!
- The leftover (dry) rice can provide at least 30 minutes of toddler entertainment. I spread a big sheet out on the floor; grabbed some plastic containers, measuring cups, and spoons; and let Selah go to town. She was happy for a solid 30 minutes while I worked out! Some rice did leave the carefully defined area, but it vacuumed up easily. Worth noting, though, is we repeated this activity with dried beans the next day, and it was a whole lot easier to contain.
- By the way, toddlers are super fun. Why don’t we talk about this more?
What I Loved
- Exhale: A creative community for mothers. I’ve talked before about my love for the Year of Creativity, a course I participated in through Coffee + Crumbs last year. It’s not an overstatement to say that this course changed my life, my writing, and my approach to creativity. Last week, the C+C ladies launched their new creative membership program called Exhale, which was built on the framework of YOC but will continue to be expanded every month with additional writing prompts, creativity exercises, exclusive podcasts, and a Facebook group.
- Harry Potter. Okay, I already loved all things HP, but Dan just finished the books and I’m having ALL THE FEELINGS remembering what it was like to read them for the first time. Now we’re watching all the movies, but I’m only half paying attention. I want to read the books again soon so I don’t want to jog my memory too much!
- Flair pens. I used these pens for grading when I was teaching, and then I kind of forgot about them. But now they’re my favorite pens to use with my Powersheets for tracking goals and making it pretty! I especially love the colors in this set.
- Black Panther. By far the most visually stunning movie I’ve ever seen, but even better was the richness of the story. This film is so important in our time in history. Dan and I particularly enjoyed the experience of seeing this in a theater with full-on recliner chairs, and I’m mostly just surprised I didn’t fall asleep.
- Our new fireplace! This change has made our house feel even more like home.
What I Read
- Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist: This was the only Shauna Niequist book I hadn’t yet read (which is funny, because it was her first book), and I’m sad that I’ve made my way through all of them now! This one is somewhere in the middle of her list for me—not my favorite (Bread and Wine takes the cake) but not my least favorite, either. She is a gifted writer, and it was fun to go back and see how her skills have evolved since this first book. ⭐⭐⭐
- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown: I really enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t as life-changing as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard so much hype, and maybe it’s because I was already familiar with Brené Brown’s teaching. In any case, this book was super well-researched and very compelling. I learned some new things about how my perfectionism and propensity to foreboding joy are unhealthy coping mechanisms, so that felt really great! ⭐⭐⭐
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: This book slowly but surely won my heart. It started off painfully slow—especially since I tend to be drawn to plot-driven novels, and this one was all character. But I’d heard such good things that I decided to adjust my expectations and read it slowly. I found myself completely charmed by the Count and content to savor Towles’s remarkable insights into humanity and the nature of time. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: This book BLEW MY MIND. I thought I knew a lot about systemic racism, but Michelle Alexander opened up a whole world of unseen injustice. I highlighted at least half the book and frequently said, “WHAT? How is that even legal?!” out loud, even when no one was listening. (And when Dan was listening, I would read aloud whole pages to him.) I hesitate to call a hot-topic book “required reading” because that seems a little bit confrontational…but seriously, this is required reading for every American. Below is just the teeny-tiniest list of things that had my jaw on the ground. This book is incredibly well researched (I don’t envy the person who copyedited all her endnotes) and well written, so think I’ll give it six stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- “Three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses are black or Latino. . . . The truth, however, is that rates and patterns of drug crime do not explain the glaring racial disparities in our criminal justice system. People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. If there are significant differences to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than people of color. One study, for example, published in 2000 by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use heroin at seven times the rate of black students.” (p. 99)
- “In New Jersey, the data showed that only 15 percent of all drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike were racial minorities, yet 42 percent of all stops and 73 percent of all arrests were of black motorists—despite the fact that blacks and whites violated traffic laws at almost exactly the same rate. . . . The Maryland studies produced similar results: African Americans comprised only 17 percent of drivers along a stretch of I-95 outside of Baltimore, yet they were 70 percent of those who were stopped and searched. . . . What most surprised analysts was that, in both studies, whites were actually more likely than people of color to be carrying illegal drugs or contraband in their vehicles. In fact, in New Jersey, whites were almost twice as likely to be found with illegal drugs or contraband as African Americans.” (p. 133)
- “The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.” (p. 180)
What I Clicked
- “I have not sacrificed. I have compromised to get what I want, an entirely different concept.” (Mother-Writer: On Achieving Balance by Lori Duffy Foster)
- “Average Americans began thinking of their homes as monetary objects to be bought, sold, invested in—consumed—rather than places to be experienced, places in which our complex lives as human beings unfold.” (Are Home Renovations Necessary? by Kate Wagner)
- “Nobody gets to tell our stories for us, because our stories belong to us, because we belong to each other.” (For the Women by Amena Brown)
- “I pray someone clutches their pearls over you. . . . Now rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world. You are set apart in your right-now life for the daily work of liberation and love.” (A Prayer for International Women’s Day by Sarah Bessey)