Hitting the Day Care Lottery Jackpot


My wife and I found out, by regular postal mail on January 17th, that our daughter was accepted into a local city-approved nursery school. She’ll start attending with a group of other 2-year-olds in April (the school year always begins in April in Japan).Of course we’re relieved to know that we can both continue to work full-time, and that our daughter will be taken good care of during the week days (day care in our area is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

But it has also driven home to me how fortunate I have been this past year to have taken Parental Leave from my school. I have been able to spend a great deal of time with my daughter at a very formative stage of her personal development, before schooling and societal mores shape her personality in ways I can’t even fathom.

So much has happened since I started writing this blog about my experiences on paternal leave. I meant to write at least one post per week, but that plan quickly fell apart as the necessities of daily life began to pile up. I will say this about my experiences so far: Taking care of a child is a full-time job.

It seems a straight-forward, almost nonsensical statement to me now, but I don’t think a lot of my male colleagues seem to understand this truth about child-raising. This past year hasn’t been an “unpaid sabbatical” or a “vacation” (both of these phrases were said to me…by male teachers).

I’m tired. Really tired. I have all the respect in the world for those who have been doing this for day after day, week after week, year after year. Contemplating the reality of single-parent families, with a parent raising a child full-time and also working a full-time job (or several part-time jobs, or both) is simply mind-boggling. These people deserve a Nobel Prize for hard work. Seriously.

There are still plenty of topics I want to write about, maybe not all of them directly related to paternal or parental leave, but certainly related to childcare and child-raising. I’ve been taking notes, mental as well as written, and amassed a number of photos (mostly taken by cell-phone on the go). I’ll try to post them as regularly as I can for the next few weeks (my Christmas and New Year’s posts were several weeks after the fact…mostly due to needing several weeks to recover after the fact).

But I should spend most of my remaining two months of parental leave spending as much time as possible with my daughter. She’s not getting younger, and neither am I. “I perceive I have no time to lose.” (Walt Whitman)

About MThomas

Long ago, I gave up my high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead wound up working (in order) at McDonald's, a '60s-themed restaurant, a video rental store, a used bookstore, a computer seller, Kinko's, a Jewish newspaper company, and an HR firm. I eventually became a teacher of intercultural communication in Kyoto, where I vainly attempt to apply quantum mechanics to language teaching, practice martial arts and Zen Buddhism, and always keep one eye on the sky. Yes, I know my profile photo's backward. I just think it looks better this way.
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