Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Auntie Diaries

I had a baby last week. She seemed so small - less than 24 pounds. And you should have heard her talk! Wait a minute, I should explain. I didn't HAVE a baby...I WATCHED a baby - my 23 month-old niece, to be exact, for approximately six days. Her parents, my sister and her husband, were given the opportunity to go to Hawaii for free. Who could resist? And so I happily volunteered to play toddler mommy. Wow, what a trip.

It was only six days, but sometimes it felt like a lifetime. It has been about 11 years since I was responsible for a child that young, so I knew there would be a period of adjustment. What I didn't realize was how I would feel about this temporary gig. It felt exactly like when I brought my son home from the hospital. Suddenly, my freedom was gone. It was...a little scary. I looked forward to this for a long time, as I did when I brought my son home, but I have to admit I thought: "What the hell am I doing?!"

Don't get me wrong, she was incredibly well-behaved and she slept like a dream. Oh sure, she had her moments of stubbornness or the ability to eat less than an anorexic canary, but she was downright adorable. When she smiled or laughed, you just melted.

But it still took me off-guard at how ill-prepared I felt for this event...just like when I became a mom. I was blown away at my inability to entertain this small child. What could possibly keep her interest? "Would you like to watch Gilmore Girls?," I thought but easily surrendered at the suggestion to simply "Watch Elmo."

I was completely outside of my comfort zone. Frankly, I hadn't realized how comfy I had become with my life. Sure, I complain about my teenagers, sometimes painting a picture of them resembling Edvard Munch's "The Scream." But they feed themselves now and the only way I can entertain them is to drive them to the mall or make sure their favorite clothes are clean and the snack pantry is stocked. Yeah, yeah, there's a bit of mental anguish, worry, attitude and turmoil, but last week it seemed like small potatoes compared to making sure that wipes and diapers were close at hand and that we didn't venture far from home when nap time was imminent.

Moms of toddlers, I salute you. I don't know how you do it. Honestly, I don't know how I did it. Oh, wait...I do. I worked outside the home. In the midst of my babysitting duty, it suddenly all came crashing back to me - THIS is why I was a working mom. I'm a stay-at-home mom now, but I'm lucky - nobody's home. It's the best of both worlds.

I noticed one other thing toward the end of my nanny stint that surprised me. I started to get in the swing of things. I became more confident, less anxious and the little dear started to pull at my heartstrings. Sure, I've always loved her, but like a new mom, I was starting to get attached to this little creature. I loved that she loved me, and what more potent parental drug is there than a child who looks you in the eye and loves you unconditionally? It's simply addictive.

Oh yeah, THAT was why I wanted to be a parent in the first place.


At 3:02 PM , Blogger Amanda said...

I've been reading some of your posts and have been thoroughly enjoying them. I'm 23 and I stay home with my 2 year old son. I really liked your post about your son graduating. I know I'll be the same way. Yeah, my little squirt gets on my nerves, but sometimes I can't help but stop and stare at him wondering where he came from and where the time went and that I should try to burn into memory every detail of these random moments. Like today at lunch he was trying to touch my arm with his grubby little hands and when I'd pull away he'd let out a good belly laugh. I couldn't help but think that most girls my age were sitting in a college classroom at that exact moment. But I wouldn't have traded it for anything in the world. Geez, I'm really sorry to babble on like this, just wanted to say, Rock On Mama!!


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