I have flights booked to go to England on 20th November. The intention was literally a flying visit...to stay for just one week. But I miss my daughter and Billy so much, a week is better than nothing at all. I haven't seen them since May and it seems such a long time.
My daughter has so much on her plate at the moment, and it's at times like this that I wish I lived closer and was able to do more to help.
Before she had Billy she worked as manager of a Montessori School. She loved her work. She loves children and I've never known such a "natural". She has so much patience...I've no idea where this comes from. Not me I'm sure. I could never have found the stamina to work with young children.
After she had Billy, she decided to become a registered Childminder so that she could work at home. She, like many young mums still has to work. One salary these days is just not enough to survive for many couples. She has always been adamant that she didn't want to put Billy into a day nursery...she has some experience of them and wasn't impressed, and certainly wouldn't have been happy to place Billy in that environment.
Becoming a childminder these days is a lengthy and thorough process. I remember years ago having a couple of friends who were registered childminders. All that was necessary at that time was for someone to come out and check that your house was safe, gather a couple of references, and that was more or less that.
Times have changed, and we have thankfully learned that children can be at risk, and that anyone caring for them on a professional basis has to be thoroughly checked out.
She attended a course every week for a couple of months. Childminders are now registered by Ofsted so the environment in which they are cared for has to be absolutely safe. So there were many visits to her flat to check it out, and of course she had to have police checks too. The whole process takes about 6 months and finally she was up and running. She was already collecting two boys (sons of a friend) from school each day and taking them to their home along with Billy, looking after them until their mother and father returned from work at around 6pm. These two are now officially being "childminded" in my daughter's home, after she collects them from school each day. She also has another pre-school child who attends nursery school three mornings a week, and she collects him and looks after him for the rest of the day.
It's a hell of a job for her. They live in a top floor flat with lots of stairs and no lift. She's pregnant with her second child, and she's up and down stairs all day with Billy and her mindees. This week is half term and she has all of them full time.
Last Friday she received a call from the housing association offering them a house. She had to view it on Monday (the first day of half term!) and they had to make an immediate decision, and be prepared to move within two weeks, or the house would be offered to the next person on the list. Of course they have accepted the offer. Not only does this remove all the stress of the stairs, but it has a garden and is also very close to Billy's paternal grandparents, who are a tremendous help to them. Naturally there is very little she can do this week and my son-in-law is unable to take any time of work this month. They will have the keys on Friday and will spend the weekend making Billy's room habitable...the only one that needs some work...and then they will move the following weekend.
My daughter and Billy have both been poorly this past week and are both on antibiotics. My daughter was so bad that she spent the day in bed on Sunday...most unusual for her.
So as I said...she has an awful lot on her plate just now. I spent yesterday trying to change my flights, to see if I could go over sooner, ie within the next two weeks. No chance...there's nothing before the flight I already have booked for 20th November. It's so frustrating. I have time to spare and could be of much more use there than here.
However, I did manage to change my return flight to extend my stay by another week. So I will be there for two weeks rather than one. Maybe she will still have jobs that need doing then and I'll tell her to make a list for me!
Anyone who lives far away from their grown-up children and grandchildren will I know understand this feeling of helplessness that I'm now experiencing. You just want to be there for them whenever they need you and it's awful when you can't.