Monday, January 31, 2011

Ain't I a Mother?

My apologies to Sojourner Truth for the title; I’m not sure her sense of humor would extend to parodying her famous words. Yet those four words are the ones I find myself wanting to scream at parents, or at least email in all caps.

I am not a mother. I am a nanny. A sort of second-class mother substitute, if you will. I knew this going into the position, and I knew it was a risk. I get attached to people, especially people under the age of five.

One of the highest compliments I’ve ever received, in regards to nannying, was when Jacob and Caroline's dad told me that I acted more like a second mom than a nanny. It makes sense--I learned from my mother. I’ve been told since I was ten that I’ll make a great mom one day. I pay my rent by watching children, and it makes me so happy to be able to support myself doing something I’d do for free—and hope to, one day, with my own baby.

In the meantime, I spend upwards of thirty-five hours per week being, essentially, a mother. I’ve recently taught the twins to recognize A, B, and C; I’ve started them on potty training; I’ve gotten them to try new foods. I’ve driven to soccer practice and Gymboree. I’ve given baths and bottles, not to mention all the diapers I’ve changed. What I’ve never done, though, is make a decision. When the twins’ mom said she wasn’t ready to start actually potty training, I stopped pushing them to sit on the potty. I thought they could do it. I still think they can do it.

I couldn’t tell Timothy to eat his carrots, because his mother never made him. I can’t try cloth diapers to cure Bug’s diaper rash. I can’t sign the twins up for toddler classes (though I know they’d love them). All of this is obvious. I’m a nanny; I’m not a parent. I could leave or be left at any point. But it doesn’t make it any easier, when I disagree with a parent, that I have to simply acquiesce. The parents I work for are generally great: they value my opinions, and are always open to dialogue. But I never have the final say.

I’m not saying I deserve that power. I don’t. But when I’m spending almost as many hours with the children as their mother does, it’s easy to wish I had the same level of authority she possesses. I started nannying in an effort to quell my baby fever. My soon-to-be-wife and I aren’t ready for kids, but I desperately want to be. Instead, being a nanny has made me want my own even more. I’m not going to be a perfect mother, but I want a chance to try.

I’m so close to being a mother. I do all the mom stuff. My cat even wakes me up two or three times in the middle of the night. Interrupted sleep, diapers, throwing up…I’ve handled it all. Ain’t I a mother?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Head head head

There's a post brewing in my brain, but I'm not ready to type it out yet. Partially because I have nothing beyond a title, and partially because my head is being attacked by my sinuses, and losing.

I'll hopefully be back up to par by tomorrow (Patrick, Lilly, Bug, and Andrew: say your prayers). Wish me sleep and lots of fluids!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Walk walk walk

I've been attempting to do some form of exercise, particularly the elevated-heart-rate kind. This is due to general health, but also in small part due to the fact that when I put my wedding dress on, it was a bit more snug than the last time (granted, I was on my period).

So, I was going to go out for a walk-hopefully-with-some-jogging before heading to Bug and Andrew's. Then it occurred to me: their house is two miles away. Hm...

This post brought to you by a girl who will be VERY sore come Sunday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One of those moments

Both breakfast and lunch with the twins were horrid today. Lilly purposely dumped her bowl on the floor at one point, and Patrick was in and out of time-out for an hour. Aren't you glad that's not what I'm about to talk any more about?

Since breakfast was such a terrible experience, I decided there was only one way to handle today: stick them in the stroller. I casually mentioned, while I washed their breakfast dishes, that it might be a good day to go outside ("good" being defined loosely), and next thing I know, Lilly shows up in the kitchen with her hat on, dragging her coat.

I invited V to come on a walk with us, and we went down to the coffee shop that I took the twins to a handful of times this summer. We sat inside this time, of course, and Patrick and Lilly relaxed enough to get out of their stroller and sit on our laps on the couch. Usually new situations make them cling to the familiar (understandably), but Lilly was okay getting out, and then when Patrick decided he could follow, Lilly moved over to V's lap with no problem.

The two of us sat there - V and Lilly with matching red hair, me and Patrick with matching dark brown - and split a cinnamon bun (which Patrick ate at least 20% of). Lilly munched on grapes. They both shared my juice. The four of us spent over half an hour relaxing together.

It's definitely in the running for happiest moment of my week.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Young experiences with hallucination

Lately, the twins have taken to spinning around and around until they fall down from dizziness. It almost makes me dizzy watching them, but they can entertain themselves for quite awhile with this. Lilly tends to just fall down, giggle, and wobble back up. Patrick, on the other hand, fixates on whatever light is on the ceiling when he falls, and he stares at it. Today, as he was staring at the light in the nursery, he worriedly told me that the lights were falling, over and over. This might be my new favorite activity to encourage.

I'm about to sit for a new family for two and a half hours. They keep coming out of the woodwork. There's even the promise of more: Bug and Andrew's parents want to have all their friends over one night, and basically have V and I run a daycare. That would definitely get new people wanting us too. It's exciting!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tough times

Bug is fighting a cold. Or a something. Whatever it is, it makes her nose run and her temper flare. Andrew, on the other hand, grins whenever I talk to him.

Patrick and Lilly now can recognize A, B, and C, so we're going to start on the next three letters. I made little cards (construction paper cut into rectangles with a letter on each) that they love playing with, and they're definitely learning what each one looks like.

I forgot to shower last night, so I wore my hair up all day, so now I have a headache. Don't I just share the greatest details about life?

V and I got our first wedding present today. I almost cried. We're loved! And feel special. Forty days! (I know, I know: this is a baby blog, not a wedding one. I'm trying.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby

I just spent over an hour, curled up on a couch with my soon-to-be-wife, with a seven-week-old curled up on my chest, eating pizza and watching Monty Python.

The only way life could be better was if it was our house and our baby.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How not to be a bank teller

A few months ago, I went to pay rent on V's and my new apartment. I'll call the bank where our landlord's account Bank Q, whereas V and I have accounts at Bank F. (I love picking random letters.)

The teller at Bank Q, when he saw my cash in an envelope from Bank F, proceeded to lecture me on how Bank F wasn't responsible, and in fact, they'd lied to their customers and were unethical. Bank Q, according to him, was much safer, and I would be better off if I immediately switched my bank.

My first thoughts, in order, were:
1) How dare you tell me what to do?
2) Why on earth should I trust you?
3) Thanks a lot for implying that I didn't research or pay any attention when I made my choice.

Today it occurred to me that this comes across much the same as the traditional model of evangelism that I was raised with. Clearly our version of religion was superior, and we needed to share that message with the world, for their own good. I was never a fan of it. But looking at it now, after having my banking choices questioned, I think I would slap someone who told me I was making the wrong decision about my overall life.

That quote, by St. Francis? "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." It's over-quoted sometimes. It's never over-practiced.

Quotables

Me: ...but don't do that, because it would be bad.
Lilly: Not good!
Me: Yes, exactly.

Subbing

This week has been rough (see yesterday's post, plus terrible sleep). Which is why it's so amazing that V offered to sit for me, when Seth and Isabella's mom asked me yesterday if I could do 9-11:30 this morning. I couldn't. But I didn't want to tell her no.

I woke up about five minutes before V got home from their house. It was absolutely glorious, and for once I feel rested. Necessary - since I have the twins tonight.

Last night, V and I watched Bug and Andrew for a few hours. It was the first time their mom had left him at home, and I think we liked having each other there as much as she liked having both of us. Bug wasn't feeling 100%, so she was fussy. V gained lots of infant experience! I taught her the classic "baby resting on his tummy on your arm" position that little ones seem to love. Him included. But he grinned at me every time he saw me, and laughed in his sleep, and he was so adorably little. Seven weeks.

We're doing the same thing again Sunday evening. Then another full week, then we both have Saturday evening jobs next week. Then it's February. Then it's wedding!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why isn't it Saturday yet?

Yesterday seemed like it should have been Friday. That would conveniently make this a day off, instead of a first-day-of-period, fighting-snow-to-get-to-the-twins, Lilly-throwing-up-twice kind of day.

And that's really about all I have to say.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photographs

There's a new digital picture frame at the twins', and today it was sitting on the kitchen counter scrolling through hundreds of pictures of them, from birth through this past Christmas. It was great to see the toys, bouncers, carseats, and clothes they had as infants; I've missed out on that whole part of their lives.

What made me a bit sad, though, was the fact that I'm not in any of the pictures, nor will I probably ever be. It's one of those things about being a nanny. Hours-wise, I probably spend as much waking time with them as their mom does (okay, slightly less due to weekends). But I'm just the tangental "not quite family" category. I do appreciate birthday party invitations, and their parents have never been anything less than super considerate to V and me. I'm not complaining.

I just want one of my own, so I can be in the pictures too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Introductions

I'm in love. I always fall in love with the people I can't have.

Today was my second day with the 19-month-old, henceforth known as Bug (if you met her, you'd understand). And I'm in love with her. She's crazy! Definitely an oldest child, very opinionated and bossy, but quite possibly the cutest kid with the greatest smile. We went to Gymboree today, which was made for kids like her. She ran/climbed/jumped/spun/slid/twirled to her heart's content. For the first half of the class, I was in with her, then I switched off with her mom, who was holding 6-week-old baby Andrew and chatting with the guy at the front. It was an amazing hour.

The entire morning was amazing. I love both Bug and Andrew. And I'll get to see them every Wednesday, plus some other days!

And, I got paid for the morning. I'm in awe.
(Also, left a bunch of V's and my business cards at Gymboree. We're so grown up.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Raindrops and potties

Twins, again. I earned some nanny points by putting their snowboots, coats, and hats on, and taking them outside to splash in the rain. I managed to not have an umbrella and be in horrible shoes and clothes, but watching them jump and kick the puddles was worth it. I somehow still had to change their pants and socks when we came back in.

Potty training continues. They've gotten better about sitting on the potty, and we do so after every meal - not that anything has happened yet. I just sent both their parents an email about the whole mess, asking what terms they used, etc. I must admit, I've never written an email including the sentence "Are there specific terms you use to refer to the penis/vagina?" before. I'm interested to see what they say (not just to that question!). For the past week or so, I've felt very on my own in potty training, and of course consistency is a big part of what will get this to work. So it'll be nice to feel like I'm on the same page as their mom and dad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Good nanny, bad nanny, mediocre nanny?

It's not often that as soon as I get in the door from the twins, I start writing a blog post. (Truthfully, I put fish sticks in the oven first.) But today was such a good day with Patrick and Lilly, and had such...unusual...moments.

V did get one text today of "these kids are so ornery today," but that actually improved. I felt like the greatest nanny in the world when I drew two As, two Bs, and two Cs on small pieces of construction paper and we played matching. They were 100% at that game: I handed Lilly an A, laid the rest out, and asked her to find the other A. No problem. Then we learned what the letters actually were, and for awhile they were really good with "Where's the B?" and such. Not that they have their first three letters readable in ten minutes, but still. I was proud of them.

Lilly begged to go outside (adorable in and of itself), so we finally did. I got their coats on; Lilly grabbed her hat and put it on, then picked up a mitten and said "Mitten time! [pause] No mittens." So, we went without mittens - it's not that chilly today. They wanted to take their poppers, and we ended up walking a decent ways. We were on the sidewalk next to the main road for a bit, and multiple people smiled and waved. I love being out with the adorable ones.

And then came the wind-down, which was actually fantastic except I'll be kicking myself for days. Normal routine is, after lunch, we brush teeth, change diapers, and get in cribs for nap. Today I brushed their teeth and then took their pants and diapers off in the bathroom; they need to learn the concept of air-on-tush, and plus, having them semi-naked and near the potty kinda counts, right? So then we go to the nursery, I pick up Lilly, put a diaper on her and her pants back on, while Patrick is off somewhere, then call him in and do the same. He felt a little wet, but I disregarded it (idiot). We end up back in the bathroom because he wants to show me something, and, sure enough, he's peed on the floor next to the toilet. Why wasn't I there?? I went ecstatic on him, because I'm pretty sure it's the first time he's done anything outside a diaper, but I'm kicking myself. At least after that they both sat (free-bottomed) on the potty for awhile. Another day, another try.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekend, again

I'm trying to type this through the stench of my cat making liberal use of her litterbox. Forgive me for any incoherency.

Sunday has lately been a day of rest (for all you Bible-readers, novel idea, I know). Last Sunday we didn't leave the house at all; today, we only left for a random trip to Ikea for rugs after we rearranged the "laundry room." FYI: the "laundry room" is an engorged portion of our hallway that happens to be floored with linoleum and contain a washer and dryer.

Anyway, it's been all minimalizing the house (I'm so proud of everything we've gotten rid of, and there's only more to come), scrapbooking (well, on V's end), puzzle-doing, cleaning, rearranging, and way more entertaining the cat than I signed on for. Quite a lovely evening, minus a few kitty nips.

Interjection: Yesterday we got a wrought iron four poster bedframe for $25 at our favorite thrift store! And then a random nice woman with a pickup drove it home for us! Whee!

And so, that is my totally child-free post. Not a child-free weekend, actually; I watched Katie and Sean last night. They were only up for about half an hour, though. Tomorrow, back to the twins...whom I miss, though not the cabin fever that lately comes with them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some thoughts on Christians

Inflammatory title, I know. Guess I'd better watch out, before everyone starts picturing targets on churches. I don't mean anything hate-filled by that title, nor do I intent to rant angrily (though I know it can be a specialty of mine). What I'm looking at is terms.

I consider myself a Christian, though I don't usually phrase it as such. I'm more of an Episcopalian (that word makes me so dyslexic). And I'm more of a "generally try to love everyone" person. When it comes down to it, though, I do have a theology.

Part of the reason I don't share it is because I know what happens in my brain when someone else says they are a Christian. The censors come on, the guard goes up, and I'm just waiting for them to find out I'm with a girl--or any other piece of not-proper living. Basically, it turns any interaction or relationship from "we get along, this is great!" to "guess I'll stick around till you kick me out." I'm not saying none of that reaction is my fault; I've had enough people prove it wrong to know that my brain isn't always truthful.

But I also know lots of open-minded people, some LGBT some not, who have reactions very similar to mine. And I don't ever want them to have the same triggers with me as I do when some people say they're Christians. Let me be loving first, then religious.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I do believe he just peed on my shirt

Today marked a new day, a first time, an initiation: I started my new job. New job, you say? Why yes! V and I are actually sharing it. The position is technically mother's helper, and it's a stay at home mom with a 19 month old girl and 6 week old boy. Basically, she just needs someone to entertain the little girl so she can go to the grocery, clean, and cope with an infant.

I am, to say the least, in heaven. I love toddlers. I love little girls. And this one is adorable, right down to the brown ringlets and round eyes. We spent two hours playing today (and I got paid for it). I folded laundry, swept the floors, rocked the baby, and played.

Oh, and forgot to change the baby's diaper after he got up (I just wanted to snuggle him! I've missed infants.), so after awhile in the rocker I realized the front of my shirt had just gotten soaked. It was exactly what I thought it was, so I changed him and then his mom let me borrow a shirt so I didn't have to run around in pee-damp clothes.

It probably means I'm in the right occupation if none of that bothered me, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Networking

I love V and I being in business together. It's so much better than when she was at the restaurant! Multiple families know of or have met both of us, and it's remarkable how many we "share." V took her three-year-old to the park one day, with a few moms, and gave one of them her contact info; last night the mom asked V to sit today, which she couldn't...so I'm going over there in an hour to do it. Another mom V ends up sitting for/spending time with regularly told her that we make a great duo. V's come along with me to the twins as well as to Katie and Sean's. Best of all, in our quest to make some of our income back up, now that I'm not working with Timothy and Tessa, we're both going to be "mother's helpers" for a nineteen month old girl, while the mom takes care of the one month old boy - and which one of us goes will just depend on schedules!

I love that we can make a living like this. Sure, it's not long term; there are definitely other plans in the future. But we're paying bills, paying for our wedding, paying down student loans...by helping families. By watching children. By doing what we love. And people are thinking we're great because of it. How wonderful is that?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow day

It's been snowing. All day. The roads were passable this morning, so I still went to the twins', and to my great delight, their mom had left their snow clothes. Last time we had this much white stuff, she said it was too cold to go out.

I got them both snow-dressed in under fifteen minutes, maybe under ten. Impressive, if I do say so. They had to relearn how to walk; the toddling around was hilarious, and if they fell over, I had to help them stand. That's what puffy snowsuits when you're two will do!

We made it outside, where Lilly thought snow was a blast and Patrick stood totally still. A neighbor invited us sledding with her kids, so we took the (all-terrain!) wagon two houses down, where her backyard was a great hill. It took some persuading, but Lilly finally road down on my lap, all giggles. Patrick never would try. They both went down the slide on the playset, though, which was super slick.

I was exhausted. After half an hour. We made it back home safe and dry, and proceeded to have some lunch. I have the feeling they took a good nap this afternoon, too! But the entire adventure was so precious and adorable. Once again, I want my own kid to do this with; in the meantime, I'll work on balancing two. Not as difficult as it could be, when one just wants to stand at the top of the hill and stare speculatively down.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Get out of the house

My first nannying job, the summer after freshman year of college, I watched a four-year-old and her almost-two-year-old sister. It was 10-7, 5 days per week. Their mom basically gave me the girls, two carseats, and told me to go have fun.

And did we ever. At least once a week, we drove 35 minutes to the good mall to go ride the carousel, and once we even went down to visit my half-siblings (who were around the same age). Sometimes I could make it all day staying home, but, at a minimum, we usually went up to the church where my dad pastored, to play in the nursery there.

Which is why sometimes watching the twins frustrates me. Granted, it's only for four-hour stretches, but we never go anywhere. The one and only time I've been in a car with them was to go see Santa. When it was warmer, we would walk down to the coffee shop about a half mile away (maybe more; I don't know), but obviously that's out of the question now.

I'm hoping that I'll keep working with them as they get older, and I'll be able to take them to classes or playdates or some non-housebound activity. Or at least that it will warm up and we can walk down to get coffee and grapes.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Following

I like to follow serious posts like the last one with a one-liner from a toddler, but since I haven't watched any children in over forty-eight hours, I don't have any.

Yep, that's right, V and I have both had this entire weekend off. The last time I remember a weekend completely off was the one before Thanksgiving, and I'm not even sure that I was off. I just can't remember any more.

So we have done nothing. And by nothing, I mean: organized storage, taken down Christmas decorations, sold stuff on Craigslist, met with potential families, eaten at Moe's, completed a puzzle, and started a scrapbook.

It's been a wonderful weekend.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Young and in love

Sometimes, this blog tends more toward the nannying side of life. Other times, it focuses on the "two girls" aspect. If you read only for the former, skip this post.

V and I both grew up in very right-wing Christian households. Naturally, this means that our parents aren't overly fond of our relationship, specifically our upcoming marriage. I'm at the place where I am utterly baffled by someone who will change so much of how they perceive their child just based upon the revelation of whom that child is attracted to.

This is a small rant about V's mother. More than that, though, it's a question I should never have to ask. Why do I find myself consoling my wonderful, loving fiance, who is facing an irrational fear that her mother will pray enough to cause a blizzard and we won't be able to go get married? Why would any mother pray against her child's happiness?

I know: obviously she wants her child to be happy, but more than that, she wants her to be saved. I'm just tired of that not having any more options than the one narrow religious tradition. I'm tired of always fighting someone to try to be happy.

I could ramble about gay marriage for awhile. One day I will. But really, all this boils down to is: Hurt, intimidate, or come against me, fine; do the same to V, and I will not be happy.

We're getting married in 57 days. It won't be the end of the world. It'll be the best beginning of ours.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dream job

In many ways, I'm working my dream job. V texted me earlier today, from where she was watching her three-year-old, and said, "We're doing letters. I love that we can support ourselves like this!" It's true; I'm just as amazed, and happy.

I do have a very strong organizational side, though. I was a secretary for years, and sometimes miss it. Thus I've concocted my dream job in my head.

Years from now, V and I will have turned this into an elite childcare business. Our name will be fairly well known in the community, and come with certain standards. I'll be able to be a stay at home mother, while interviewing candidates who want to work in childcare under our name, and then I can hire them, manage the positions, and contact families needing care. (The first analogy I come up with is a madam in a brothel. Ignore that.)

Doesn't that sound awesome? I would absolutely love it. It's my current favorite daydream.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Stats

I was glancing through the stats for this blog, which I do occasionally, and looked at the referring places. Most were what I expected (a few friends I know who link to me), but apparently someone stumbled across this by searching "snoozing girlfriend."

It's probably not what they were looking for, but I'm certainly amused.

Don't put the kids in the washer

I spent the entire washer cycle this morning with the twins in the laundry room, as we watched the clothes go round and round. They have a clear door, front loading washer, so every now and then Patrick would go "froggy bib!" when a piece of white fabric would go by, and Lilly would identify "kitty shirt!" when she saw black. Both of them spun around - excuse me, round and round - off and on for probably fifteen or twenty minutes, and only in the last few of the cycle did they start hiding by the couch and playing "I see you!"

This laundry campaign of mine is part of a new initiative (do I sound political enough yet?) to not treat them differently from other kids because there are two of them. When I'm with one toddler, he or she is always on my hip, helps with laundry, sits on the counter while I prepare food, etc. Physics denies me some of that with the twins, but just because it takes five minutes for both of them to make it down the stairs to the laundry room doesn't mean I should always leave them in the nursery while I go do laundry. Or so I'm realizing.

So, off we went, down two flights of stairs, and they took turns throwing clothes into the washer. Then came round and round. Then we threw the clothes in the dryer, and they started to go round and round like the dryer - but at that point I told them we were going back upstairs. Half an hour in the laundry room is plenty.

In more dramatic news, I got them each to sit on the potty without diapers on! Nothing happened, of course, but they're definitely getting more comfortable with the whole potty thing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Contracts and changes

When the twins' mom officially offered me the job, she asked me to sign a year-long contract. They'd had nannies take better offers and leave with minimal notice before. I gladly signed.

Shortly after I started this blog, my first afterschool family, Jacob and Caroline, abruptly moved out of state when their mom got a great job offer. It made me wish there had been a contract, but Timothy and Tessa filled the void in an almost-perfect way.

Enough foreshadowing yet? This morning, I received an email from their mom, saying that her mother-in-law is moving in with them, due to "a variety of reasons," and so they don't need me anymore. To be fair, she is paying me for the next two weeks. I don't have to work anymore; I don't really even get a chance to say goodbye to the kids.

It's 60% of my salary. It's two kids I really liked. It's totally out of the blue.
V and I are getting married in two months. Loan bills are now here in full force.
I know it'll be okay. I know I'll find something else.
I just don't know what.

Two moments of cute

The note that the twins' mom left this morning said that at lunch on Saturday Lilly told her mom "Lina fun!" How sweet is that? They're talking so much, especially to each other. He's Bubby and she's Sissy and they have opinions on everything.

Today, I put on an animal video that Patrick loves, and when it switched to the tiger section from whatever it was on, he demanded "Monkeys!" I said to him, "But Lina loves tigers!" and he looked back at me and said, "Bubby loves monkeys!"

Changes are happening. Life always seems to throw them at me. I promise I'll stop being so secretive later.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to 2011

I brought in the new year by making money. Seems like a good omen, and seems like something I would do.

What made it more awesome, however, was that the twins' mom invited V to come with me, and bought us cake and crackers and champagne to celebrate. So we played with the twins, had a sweet time putting them to bed, and then curled up on the couch, snacked, and kissed at New Year's. And then got a check.

Welcome to what I think will be a very good year, everyone.