Our first week with our new babysitter has come to its conclusion, and the conclusion is: two thumbs way up!
Even though my maternity leave doesn't end for another three weeks, I wanted to make the transition as easy and unstressful as possible for both me and Sam. Despite wanting a decent buffer period, however, I still procrastinated way too long before looking for childcare. I won't list my reasons for procrastinating -- most of them founded in anxiety -- because I'm sure almost all of you have been there or are there right now, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But still. Anxiety. Gut-wrenching, waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-panic anxiety. It blows.
As I'm finding with so many things to do with parenting, the anticipation was much worse than the actuality. (Heeey... maybe being a parent will teach me Valuable Life Lessons! There's a thought!) When I realized I couldn't stall any longer, I posted my ad in a couple of places, and good old Craigslist delivered. Despite my somewhat vaguely worded requirements, I received a dozen or so responses and my spotty faith in humanity was restored when none of them were overtly nutbars. I did the back-and-forth email thing with a few people, did a couple of phone interviews, and -- praise the lord -- hit paydirt with the first person I interviewed in my home. Somebody pinch me! This must be a dream!
The main reason I like her is, not to put too fine a point on it, because she's a lot like me. More than ten years younger, yes, but still quite similar. Because as I mentioned to Kris once, all we want for our babies is a caregiver who can provide them with almost exactly the same brand of love and care we do... but of course without them ever winning our babies' affections as thoroughly as we have. Is that so unreasonable, I ask you?
Happy ending aside, this process has made me mentally revisit every conflicted-mom-and-nanny op-ed piece Salon
has ever published and made me -- once again -- realize that when it comes to pregnancy and parenthood, I'm not the special, adorably unique creature I once thought I was. Those Salon moms and I? We have a lot in common. And now I want to go back and track down every person who's ever written a letter to Salon in response to those stories, letters reviling these moms and suggesting that they keep their "trivial", "privileged", "middle-class" problems to themselves, and I want to write them each a letter telling them to shut the fuck up.
I mean, seriously, anyone who thinks that the fears and concerns and psychological upheaval surrounding entrusting your tiny, innocent, trusting child to the care of another human being are trivial
? Well, that person has probably never been a mom. When it comes to this issue, there is stuff going on in my mind and body that are beyond all ability to reason with, starting with, oh, the fact that every primitive instinct I have is constantly yelling at full volume, "KEEP BABY NEAR AT ALL TIMES!" To get to the point where I can blithely (or, let's be honest, fake
blithely) say to another person, "Oh, sure, why don't you just put Sam in his stroller and go to the park. Have fun!" requires me to program over some pretty powerful biological imperatives. This has been a tough pill to swallow. Before I got pregnant, I didn't even realize I had
biological imperatives. I thought those were things other people struggled with, while I, on the other hand, had nothing but cool Vulcan logic on my side. It's been humbling, let me tell you. When it comes to Sam's wellbeing, I'm still a lot like a Vulcan... at pon'farr.*
But as I mentioned, I'm really happy with Sam's new friend. She's sweet and calm and creative and fun. I can tell that he likes her a lot, which I reassure her of frequently, since he still tends to seek me out every twenty minutes or so. That's cool. It's a process, building this new relationship, both for me and for Sam. But we'll get there, and maybe we'll even learn a few more Valuable Life Lessons along the way.
*In case I'm the only nerd in the house, "pon'farr" is the time of mating, when the stoically logical Vulcans pay for their rigid control by experiencing a period of total emotional abandon. It gets pretty messy.