Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crawling Out From Under My Rock

You hear how life changing having children is BEFORE you have children and just like a know-it-all teenager, it goes in one ear and out the other.

THEN you have your own children and you are like, OH MY GOD! THIS IS LIFE CHANGING! How come nobody told me this was going to blow my mind?

After Grace was born, I was definitely overwhelmed. By many things. Happiness. Joy. Love beyond measure! OF COURSE!

But also fear, guilt, self-consciousness and a sleep-deprived state rivaled only by crackheads.

Every decision you make regarding your new baby is HUGE because you consider the possible long-term effects. For example, if you breastfeed for an entire year like the "good" parenting books tell you, your kid will go to Harvard and if you can't breastfeed or don't do it for the baby's entire first year of life, than you might as well forgo any dreams of your child being able to tie their own shoes. Each decision is like this and you put so much time and energy into each decision - when to start solids, the bedtime routine, binkys, tummy time, jumperoos, bottles, vaccinations, and the list goes on - you start to hesitate leaving your precious, new bundle of joy with a stranger because how could anyone invest as much time, thought and energy as you - the mother. At least I did.

That's after you have the first child.

After you have your second child, you are reminded of the aforementioned sleep deprived state very quickly (because you call your husband in tears because your computer doesn't work) and your self-consciousness when glancing at your post-partum body (x2) in the mirror sends shivers down your spine because you realize that your body just may never get back to it's pre-baby status.

I remember watching Oprah years ago and her telling mothers to put themselves first. That it was ok to go get a haircut, or to workout or to sit in a dark, quiet room WITHOUT their kids. I remember watching those shows and thinking that the mothers who didn't or who couldn't put themselves first were crazy and wondering why-oh-why would Oprah dedicate so many shows to this topic. Almost two and a half years after having Grace, I realized that I was turning into one of those crazy mothers. (I think this incident drove it home and the fact that I haven't had my hair cut in six months.) Sleeplessness combined with the stress of two small children day-in and day-out requires relief in some form. Relief for a SAHM can only occur when someone other than yourself watches your children - a HUGE obstacle when you do not know a lot of people or have very little family you can count on.

Enter care.com.

I was told about care.com by someone who used it herself to find childcare - albeit in a giant city - but I was desperate after an all-out search where I contacted every human being I'd ever become acquainted with in my little part of the world...or at least whose phone number or email address I had stored in my phone - to find a babysitter. My attempt at networking turned up a few hopefuls (thank you friends!) but in the end, the candidates didn't work out because of scheduling conflicts, etc. My network depleted, I signed up for care.com - a site that unites mothers and babysitters/nannies.

It took over a month to find a handful of potential babysitters. I scoured their profiles, checked their backgrounds, interviewed them on the phone, met with them at Starbucks and eventually invited a few to my home to meet my girls. It's not ideal leaving your young children with a stranger but luckily this is a small world and in a round-about-kind-of-way, we had family acquaintances with some of the references and that helped put my mind and fragile heart at ease. Finally, I got it narrowed down to two candidates and last week we hired a very sweet girl to watch Grace and Charlotte. (For her privacy, I will not mention her here.)

After a brief test run last week where I left the girls for just an hour or two to make sure things went ok, today was the first time in...hmm, a VERY long time where I left the house without a child, a baby bag, a stroller and a shirt free of spit-up. It felt surreal. There was that mother's guilt of course hanging over my head. I'm a SAHM...what gives me the right to take a break? What if Charlotte won't take a bottle? What if Grace cries for three solid hours? What if ... But after jumping in the car and actually getting to listen to a handful of songs on the radio that didn't have anything to do with princesses, the ABC's or the wheels on a bus, I started feeling pretty darn good. It's been quite awhile since I'd had a sing-along session in the car to something other than Beauty and the Beast.

In the few hours I had to myself, I got lots done! I hit the dry cleaners, signed up for a gym membership (something I've craved for the last three years), checked out a pilates studio, went to Costco and browsed   the book section and finally finished up at the grocery store for all those things you don't need in bulk quantity. Not a 100% me-time but a great start nonetheless! So watch out friends in a 50 mile radius - I'm sans ninos and ready to mingle!  


The Gimlins said...

You got to BROWSE?! I am soo jealous! It seems that every single errand these days includes the kiddo and/or hubby. Browsing is a luxury I don't see very often anymore. However, I am escaping to The Davenport this weekend with some girlfriends - I'm going to browse like no momma has browsed before! Glad to hear you found someone to watch the girls and give you an occasional break. I truly believe those breaks help us be better mothers.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what a little time to yourself does for you. As a new mom I totally understand. Enjoy.