When Heather was in therapy right before the hospital, her therapist insisted that we get a babysitter to help during the day as part of the recovery. I wanted somebody 9 to 5. Heather wouldn’t hear of it and we settled on a few hours a week. It made a huge difference in our lives. Heather felt guilty as hell, quite needlessly, of course, but I was willing to get a second job or take on more work if I had to so that Heather could feel better. A year and a half later and that babysitter has a few more hours and is a vital part of our family dynamic. I can’t imagine trying to work at least a few hours a day from home without a babysitter. We tried last week and it was impossible. There’s no way I could even have the time to write, much less get through the email or do the management stuff that I do for the mothership.
Heather’s time management skill with Leta was a finely honed thing that I’m still learning. As Leta gets older and more expressive, her demands have increased. At the end of the day, I’m hammered. It’s all I can do to pick up a laptop and try to be productive.
Parenthood for me right now is about balancing on a storm-tossed sea of toddler emotion. Leta will ask for a food item only to have a single bite and call it a day. Everything is “mine” and even things she wants still get a staccato chorus of “no, no, no, no, no” while I’m handing her the drink of water she asked for… and will drink after she eeks out one more “no” as the cup approaches.
I come from a large family, and as I was a surprise baby for my parents, there is an age gap between my older siblings and me. They started their families when I was not quite a teenager and I babysat for them a lot. It wasn’t really a chore, because I loved playing with my nephews and nieces; Atari 2600 and Lego and chasing and teasing them were all fun. I remember that at my house, we had special rules about drinks of water, and I find myself repeating to Leta the exact commands I gave to my neices and nephews. “Two hands. Slow. You can’t wander around with the cup. Stand still and drink…. …Good!”
I do this several times a day and many times I have flashbacks of being young and bossing my siblings kids around. It was a subtle payback for the teasing and grief my siblings gave me. I like to think I was a fun boss, letting them win at Space Invaders or Sorry!. I took them to movies and went to the swimming pool in summer. Leta’s just getting old enough to have some of these activities, and this summer is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to go swimming with her. If we can get through the no and the mine.
I’m asked three or four times a day whether or not I like being home. I love it. It is not easy, though. I breeched Heather’s domain. I’ve had to assert myself and pitch in. Our part-time babysitter definitely is a godsend, but she’s been off for a week and I’m needing a week to catch up.