Choosing your nursery, a real saga! † VERO magazine

For the past few weeks I have been looking for childcare for my son. While there is a shortage of childcare places all over Quebec, I was surprised to find that in my Montreal neighborhood, the opposite was the case. With the pandemic and the rise of telecommuting, families have left the metropolis. Result: Within walking distance of my house, I was able to visit seven nurseries ready to receive my baby, all unsubsidized (still, don’t dream too much!) It was a huge privilege, I am aware, and the families who don’t have childcare, have my condolences. That said, I still found the research process extremely confrontational, not to say painful. A real legend.

However, my boyfriend and I intended to keep it simple. In the beginning, we had only three criteria: qualified educators, balanced meals, and daily outings. Hey la la… Since the seven nurseries met all our requirements, we quickly understood that it would be more subtle elements that would make the difference. It was enough for a director to brag about her air conditioning to destabilize us completely. “Hey! But the! Was there one elsewhere? Should it be a criterion? What’s the priority here? Close proximity? The grid? The size of the property? Natural light? Schoolyard? Air conditioning?”

The more considerations piled up, the less people were able to judge. In one place, the director welcomed as many interns as possible to lend the educators a hand. We immediately added that to the plus column and went home enthusiastically. An hour later I expressed my doubts. “Yes, but yes, how long does it take for a child to build an attachment bond? If our baby clings to an intern who will disappear a month later, that’s a really good deal for you.”

My friend looked at me. An angel passed by.

I was wondering too. Very much. I was shocked to see that it was legal to keep six children in a space that seemed far too cramped to me. Since other parents clearly had no problem with it, I wondered if I was not being too demanding. And when I saw on the Facebook group of mothers in my neighborhood that some immediately rejected nurseries with stairs, while I was not even close to them, I wondered if I was not, on the contrary, a neglectful mother.

At some point I started to think that maybe we were projecting onto our child’s needs that were more ours than his. The spot that seemed ridiculously small to me might have been warm to my baby. What did I know? A baby does not have the same perception of the world as an adult. No, I wouldn’t spend my days with five other people in a tiny windowless room, but I wouldn’t spend hours tearing up a Kleenex either.

All of this even got me “a parent audition” for a foster place that I wasn’t even sure I wanted and ended up not getting. While I fully understood that the educator wanted to choose the parents she would do business with, I didn’t like having to sell myself and try to prove how nice, nice, and cool I was. Even that there was probably something very pathetic about the fact that I smiled so much under my mask, a perfect symbol of all the efforts I made in vain.

In short, this quest seemed inextricably linked until a daycare center made us forget our cursed list of criteria for a moment. Something else took over: our feelings. There was nothing rational about it, it just felt right. The children seemed happy and the educators were motivated. We wanted to spend time there ourselves! A real favourite!

For us.

Would our baby have blossomed just as much in these seven nurseries? Maybe. Children adapt to everything, probably more than we do. But despite the shame I had to make a choice, I still feel incredibly lucky that I had this choice. And in an ideal world, I would wish that on all parents. For having a choice is the first condition for this other great privilege: that of falling in love.

Cover Photo: Cavan Images Getty Images

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