Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's My Last Day!

That's not something I get to say very often, but it's true.
Monday was my last day babysitting. Let's just say I learned first-hand why women are not physically capable of having children 4 months apart. If they were farther apart in age, I could have kept it up--they were too close but not close enough. The perfect storm of baby. Unlike twins (whose parents I have all new respect for, by the way!), they were developmentally fairly far apart. Addie is twice Sam's size and can crawl. Fast. Sam is just big enough to want to play on the floor and learn to move, but not mobile enough to fight back or get out of the way. I really like Addie, but the first thing she would do was make a beeline for Sam and try to poke or slap her face. It's just what 8-month-olds do, and what is more fun than a living, breathing doll that cries when you poke her? The end product was that one of the girls always had to be confined to my arms (Sam's favorite, Addie hates that), or the exersaucer (Addie's favorite, Sam still slumps too much). I felt like I wasn't a good mom or baby-sitter that way, plus their propensity to tag team nap made sure I didn't get even a minute of peace for 11 hours solid. I hate being 0 for 2 on the "good care-o-meter", and as a perfectionist, it was killing me. I'm a firm believer that kids need interaction and to not be dumped in an exersaucer for hours on end, which is why I quit my job to stay home in the first place. It just wasn't worth it to not be giving my baby that interaction and not be bringing home good money to compensate for it.
Unfortunately for me, I also hate quitting things because I feel like a total failure. It was a rough time the past few weeks. I didn't think I could possibly feel any guiltier about life in general. Luckily, being a mom helped--Sam is my first priority and the guilt that I was letting her down completely trumped trying to help my friend out and made the decision easy. I'd rather fail at being a friend than being a mom. Still a lot of guilt to go around though. I don't know where I get it, but I can feel bad for things that aren't my fault like nobody's business. I was one of those kids that was deeply embarrassed to be white when we learned about the Civil Rights Movement in school. Like I was personally responsible for slavery and segregation or something. I wasn't even born yet and my family is from Wyoming and Canada (not bastions of oppression), but still, I felt guilty. I would have apologized to somebody if it wasn't East Mesa where the whole student body was as caucasian as me.
I digress--back to the topic at hand.
I'm not going to pretend that not having to get up at 5am three days a week also played a big part in my decision not to sit anymore.
I was so excited to not have to do that anymore that I was really banking on sleeping in. I was downright jazzed.
Big mistake.
We finally inched Sam's bedtime up from 10:30 or 11pm to a respectable 8:30 or 9. On Monday, she went to bed at 8pm, and woke up at (ta da!) 5:30am. Ahhh, parenting. How is it that kids always find your biggest weakness with what seems to be zero effort? Waking up early is Mommy's kryptonite, and Sam went for the jugular on that one. No fair.
Now, my baby who used to sleep until 9:30 in the morning is always up by 6 am. I guess I shouldn't have looked forward to sleeping after Addie was gone.
Despite the little pink rooster I have living down the hall, once I made the decision to quit and stuck with it, I've never felt better. Knowing I did right by both Sam and my mental health has lightened my load considerably. Starting Monday evening after Addie left, Sam had the giggles all night. I think the relief I felt knowing I could actually get to my housework and wouldn't have to feel like I was shortchanging a child no matter what I did was palpable. Maybe someday, I'll feel better about all the other stuff too. Like those starving kids in China--I'm already feeling better about not finishing a meal now that I've convinced myself it wasn't like the food was on a truck bound for either me or China and chose chubby me instead of the poor Chinese. It took me like 15 years, but its another sign I'm making progress.
So here's celebrating that I had a last day instead of a first one! Now that I know I can handle two kids (even if only barely), handling Sam solo is no biggie at all. I also found within myself the ability to speak up for my baby and me when I need to. I'm slowly but surely figuring out how to say no, starting here, and working on doing it guilt-free. Lessons learned, and they don't come cheap, but wow, are they worth it!

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