The first snowfall after earning my driver’s license, I begged my mom for permission to drive to my friend’s house. I promised I’d be careful, and my mom apprehensively handed over the keys.
As I made the right turn out of my neighborhood, I hit a patch of ice and began spinning. And spinning.
I was unable to get the car under control, as was the driver of the truck that was skidding straight for me. I hunkered down, braced for impact — shoulders pinched, jaw clenched, eyes squeezed tightly. But no smash came.
When I dared to open my eyes, I found myself in a parking lot, staring at a welcome sign on the doors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses kingdom hall. The building had just opened that very morning.
It occurred to me that if I believed in signs, I would walk through those doors and convert. A bit of an odd choice for someone with a Jewish mother and Catholic father, but weirder things have happened. If I believed in signs, I’d have taken vows.
But I don’t believe in signs. I didn’t at 16, and I don’t now — even when the signs are about as subtle as a boy’s purchasing a hotel room on prom night. If I believed in signs, I’d quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom — a Jehovah’s Witness stay-at-home mom.
The signs beckoning me to watch my son full time are like the nauseatingly bright ones advertising “Nudes! Nudes! Nudes!”; I may see them, but I choose to ignore them.
Two weeks before returning from maternity leave, the day care facility I selected mentioned they cared for unvaccinated children. Prophesying an outcome as dire as the Black Death or a “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” marathon, our pediatrician urged us to place our son elsewhere.
The mad scramble for a new day care facility commenced. Leaving my son with a pack of wolves would be safer than some of the centers I saw.
And I’m not talking about a pack of sexy wolves that turn into brooding shirtless guys. No, I mean the kind of wolves in “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Three Little Pigs” — the kind that think humans taste like caviar. The day care scramble was scary and something I never wanted to relive.
Luckily, before returning to work, I found an amazing day care facility that I was happy leaving my son at until he was 37 years old and sending his own kids there.
There would be no such luck. The signs were too busy telling me to be a stay-at-home mom.
At 8 o’clock on a Thursday night, I got a call from my son’s day care facility. The state discovered that the facility was caring for twice as many children younger than 2 as allowed. My son was out of day care. Effective immediately.
The next few weeks were pure pandemonium. My husband and I checked day care centers before and after work while friends and family flew in to help watch my baby.
After finding a new place and paying my deposit, I brought my son by so he could get used to the new surroundings. That’s when I noticed something bothersome. It looked as if there were more kids younger than 2 here also!
“How many kids do you have under 2?” I asked.
“Your son makes four,” the caretaker said. “You’re only allowed four.”
“Point them out.”
The caretaker pointed at six children.
“You just said my son makes four,” I exclaimed. “You’re over the legal limit!”
“Then let’s hope the state doesn’t visit,” she said, and then she winked.
I was out of time and out of options.
A friend suggested day care in a Baptist church. A bit of an odd choice for someone with a Jewish mother and Catholic father, but weirder things have happened. I checked out the school and fell in love. It was perfect.
I very comfortably left my son there and have been leaving him there for nearly a month. A home for day care, finally!
Last week, the teacher asked me whether she could mention the Easter Bunny to my son. She didn’t want to make assumptions.
“Of course!” I told her. “I want to raise my son to know about all religions.”
The teacher smiled kindly and said, “You’re open-minded — not like most Jews.”
Hey, universe, if you want me to be a stay-at-home mom, how about letting me win the lottery? How’s that for a sign?