Pat Benatar, You’re (sort of) Always There for Me

The first time I remember hearing Pat Benatar, I was in front of a TV, watching “Video Hits” on CBC after school.   Makeup slashed across her face, ripped clothes, fierce glare, telling me love was a battlefield, and I believed her, even though I was seven and had not a hot clue what she meant by that.

On the rare (ahem) occasion I drink too much, nothing makes me feel happier than belting out “All Fired Up”.  (Try it next time.  You’ll see.)

I even followed Pat into her blues era, for god’s sakes.  Not many people did.  But I could dig it.

This week, I went back to work.  I love it.  I love the job, I love the people I work with, I love the work the organization does (And that’s the last you’ll ever hear about the job itself.  Because it’s just one of those jobs you don’t discuss the details of. )

The husband is in favor.  The Boy is virtually unaffected, as all of this work stuff takes place in the hours he is at school.

But The Girl…..

She’s having a tough time.  She’s in a daycare with a reputation for being among the very best in the city.  I’ve met all the people involved.  They are great.  Really, really great.  And the first day was pretty darned great.

Not so much the second day.

Nor the third.

She woke up this morning, mouth still full of sleep, eyes still closed, mumbling “I not go to daycare, ‘kay?”  It’s what she fell asleep saying.

I think I’m doing a good thing here.  I’m bringing home some money, hopefully relieving my husband of some of the financial burden he’s under.  I’m being mentally stimulated, making me happier, making me a better person and wife and mother.  I’m giving The Girl the opportunity to socialize, gain some independence, break her budding addiction to electronic devices in all their evil forms.  I’m showing my kids that mommies work, just like daddies.

And I’m tearing apart my little girl’s entire world, taking away all her safety nets and touchstones, and making her question my commitment to her, and scaring her, and just generally (possibly, maybe) fucking her up.

I know it will get better.

No, I don’t know that.

I’m hoping against hope that it will get better.  I’ll never ever know if I did the right thing.

As I left this morning, I got to hear her scream.  Scream louder, from a place more primal than I’d ever heard.  More of a keening than a scream.

And as I tried to put one foot in front of the other, see through the freezing streams of tears, Pat’s words were there, in the front of my brain.

“I’m gonna harden my heart.  I’m gonna swallow my tears.  I’m gonna turn…and…leave you here.”

I’m sorry Pat.  I don’t know if I can.


36 responses to “Pat Benatar, You’re (sort of) Always There for Me

  1. That scream will tear you apart, but it does get better. I don’t think it’s possible to harden your heart though – but having them run to you at the end of the day makes things a little easier.

  2. it will get better. i have the benefit of having two ‘day care survivors’, now 21 and 23 years old… and i talk to them about these things. all of the things that i did to them – including day care – that i thought was traumatizing them? nope…

    it was the other stuff… that i didn’t think about that left the marks…

    oh. wait. i was supposed to be encouraging you…

  3. hang in there Ginny, it takes about 2 weeks.

    We experience the same thing at the gimcrack when grown up children leave their dementing parent with us for respite care. Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve consoled a weeping middle aged woman in my office who wants to go back upstairs and collect her incontinent father who needs to be watched 24 hours a day because he turns on the gas and eats cat food or wanders down the highway at 4:00 am….

    your adorable little girl will get to love day care soon.

  4. And it gets better!! (okay, it gets worse) Just wait until she is too busy to say goodbye, cries because she doesn’t want to leave daycare, and gets to school and wants to give the stuff she makes for Mother’s day that you should be getting to the day care provider…not helping?

    • At this exact moment, if she called one of the daycare workers “Mom”, I’d be overjoyed. Sad later, but for now, at least I wouldn’t worry so much. But thanks.

  5. I thought that ‘Harden my heart’ song was by Quarterflash? Lookitmee all knowitall-y.

    She’ll get used to going to school, and eventually she’ll like it. Remember the time you dropped boy off at camp and you felt the same way? She’s going to make friends soon enough, and she’ll be fine.

    Millions of kids are in day care. I have a hard time believing that they’re all fucked up over it. She’ll get over it. She will be cause she has to.

    And so will you.

    • Totally was a Quaterflash song. Pat Benatar sang it later, but really, the Quaterflash version is about 95% better known. And having to surf the net to confirm that COMPLETELY distracted me for an hour.

      That was all part of your plan, wasn’t it? Thank you for that hour.

  6. It’s tough at the start. And then after a while, she’ll be used to it. But it’s awful at the start. And worse on you than her, because she’ll probably be fine after five minutes.

  7. @curtisincalgary

    You can do it! It does get better. Eventually she will love it. You are not doing damage, you are creating independence.

    Good luck

    • Thanks. I was having a particularly low moment when I posted, and now, I really do think I’m creating independence. No matter how hard it is on both of us.

  8. I can only imagine how hard it is (I’m still at home with my little bean). But, if it helps, I grew up with a working mom and I turned out okay (so I think).

  9. That must be awful for you to hear. I don’t know anything about it but ((hugs)) anyway.

  10. Ah, that’s hard Ginny. Hard. Not much different than when they start school and that’s coming soon anyway.
    And Yay! Working mom.

  11. From late elementary school onward, my mother always made me feel as if her job was more important than me. Unintentionally, of course, but it was still clear as water to me that I mattered less than what she did all day. She claims that she was happy about her choice of profession partly because she was able to be home every day at 3:00 when I got home from school. Thing is, she was home, but she was in front of the computer, working. And she didn’t ever hear me when she was sitting there. It was like she wasn’t there at all.

    I was never in day care, but I always felt like second best. What I’m getting at: as long as you’re happy, and making your daughter see that you’re happy, and that she’s the most important thing in your life, I wouldn’t sweat the adaptation to day care. She’s really young, and she’ll get over it. If as she grows older, the job gets to be the first priority and she can smell that, that’s when you should worry.

    For now, I think the socializing and the non-electronic devices can only be a good thing. Plus, kids are resilient, and daisyfae is EXACTLY right about the stuff you don’t think about leaving the marks. Mom worked like mad to keep me in private schools my whole life, an experience I think was ultimately useless to my life as it is now, but the things she said to me during those horrible weeks I was applying for colleges will never, ever be forgotten.

    Just my experience and $0.02. I’m sorry if I made things worse instead of better. Also sorry I wrote a novel.

  12. I teach preschool. I am also a mom to three boys (ages 8, 6, and 2). The screaming tears out your heart, as does the begging and negotiations. I have daycare in tears before because my kids are so torn up. And I’ve been on the other side too. Usually at school the crying only lasts 5-15 minutes (no more than half an hour) and 2-3 weeks. I tell parents to be consistent and don’t prolong your exit (it makes it worse). Sometimes it helps to have a photo of your family that she can look at when she misses you–check with the teacher to see if she has suggestions. Keep open communications with the staff to ensure that is the right place for her. Good luck!

  13. Sorry, make that ‘I have left daycare in tears’

    • She does have a photo there (at the request of the daycare workers, who are amazing and always three steps ahead of me). I’ve even gotten The Girl to admit to the fact that she’s just not used to it, yet.

      Thanks for your words.

  14. I wonder if the reaction to dropping your kid off at daycare differs due to gender.

    My son screamed his bloody face off when we first started dropping him off. Like someone was lighting his skin on fire. And sure I felt a little bad, but I dropped him off and never looked back. It lasted about a week, maybe a little more.

    He’s been going to daycare three days a week for nearly a year now. And I admit, he still screams. Only now he screams when I come to pick him up because he’s having so much fun and doesn’t want to leave.

    It’ll get better soon.

  15. I have a three year old cousin who claims that “school is the worst place in the world” but once there he actually enjoys it. It seems he just doesn’t like getting up in the morning.

  16. It will get better. There’s an adjustment period. But our older boy now loves day care. And he gets so much out of it. Social skills most notably, but his language has really improved a lot and I attribute a lot of it to day care. Just hang in there. It’s heartbreaking at first, but in time it will be OK.

  17. I hated daycare. The whole time I was in daycare I remember hating it vividly. I remember vividly hating the women who ran it too. I didn’t cry or beg. That wouldn’t do any good. And I didn’t come from a place where people listened to what kids had to say on things. So I just went and toughed it out. But I hated it the whole time. Not because it was daycare. Because I really hated that specific place and those specific people. She sounds a lot more upset than normal. She’s not just crying when you drop her off. She’s falling asleep and waking up saying she doesn’t want to go. I would ask her why. Not just assume it is a normal response to being separated from a parent or regular home routine. And if it doesn’t let up it a week or so, I’d start looking for another place or alternative situation. Because no matter how great the place’s reputation? If it doesn’t work for her it doesn’t work for her.

    • That is exactly what has been echoing in my head, Max: “If it doesn’t work for her it doesn’t work for her.”

      And on this, the one week mark, she finally said to her daycare workers, “It’s going to be OK, because I know you, now.” And she insisted that we leave her blanket there, because she’ll be back tomorrow, and she’ll need it for nap time.

      But believe you me, I will always have “If it doesn’t work for her it doesn’t work for her” in my mind.

  18. The boyo’s have been in daycare since they could go and you’re right Ginny, it helps with socializing and shit like that with the added bonus that there have been studies done that show it builds up kids immune systems and makes them healthier and better able to fight disease as they get older, of course nothing kicks you in the balls or uh something else like watching the wee ones cry and beg and pull your strings and you feel like total shit as you get in the car and head off to a job and you question your priorities but really that’s what kids do, hell i’m a gigantic booze swilling-pill popping-bong toting beast and there are days i find myself with tears in my eyes as i walk out of daycare towards my car, still, 3 years in, but we do what we have to do in order to make their lives better right? and sometimes that means earn money… and i for one think it’s good for the little shits, teaches them that the world is not the big warm fuzzy place they think and though we want them to think that as long as possible it’s probably best to start breaking them in early.

  19. I am really glad to hear she is doing better.

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