This Is How We Do It

It’s Friday, of course, but this post has little in common with the upbeat infectious anthem of the same name, sung (is that the right word?) by Montell Jordan.  It’s also lacking the introspection of the NYT Motherlode’s How We Do It series.  This is just my real life without a filter, an editor or even a Timbaland-esque producer.  For those things I apologize.

Despite my soul-baring post at Outlaw Mama about going back to work full-time, my change-challenged son was NOT on board.  First of all, he likes me to do everything for him.  Brush his teeth, put on his shoes, cut his watermelon just right.  And it’s just me.  Daddy won’t do, aunts, uncles, no one, but Mommy. I know you are thinking I’m raising an incompetent mama’s boy, but until you volunteer to raise him, keep your judgment to yourself and allow me my major mother flaws.  Second, it’s probably my fault I didn’t introduce him to babysitters earlier, but he does not take well to strangers.  And by strangers I mean pretty much anyone but me. I was home for the first two years of his life and over the brief eighteen months that I went back to work when he was two, he never – for a single day – greeted his amazing nanny with anything but tears.

So I wasn’t looking forward to finding another one.  Generally, I’m not crazy about the idea of a nanny (I grew up in a Puerto Rican and Italian family — we didn’t have sitters, we had extended family nearby) but we knew we would have to get one.  It was just too late in the summer to switch my daughter into a full-time daycare.  We found a wonderful woman with trusted friend references and hired her on the spot.  Two days later she quit.  My son is not an easy child.  Let’s leave it at that.

Since I was scheduled to start the very next day, there was no time for blame or second guessing.  Our family needed a solution.  We decided against looking for a new nanny, the sting of that recent burn still smarting.

“I guess we’ll have to do it ourselves,” I said. Oddly, Ian thought this was a great idea. We must have both been out of our freaking minds. But that’s what we are doing.  We have two full-time jobs and NO babysitter.  This is what our day looks like:

5:30am – Ian goes into the office.

6-830am – I get myself ready for work, the kids ready for school (camp during the summer) and leave the house.

9am – drop off at school. Go to work.

12pm – Ian picks the kids up from school, gives them lunch and plays with them.

5pm – I get home to do dinner for the kids and hang out with them while Ian works some more.

730pm – kids disappear in their shared bedroom wearing their pajamas (as long as they don’t bother me I really don’t care what goes on in there).  Ian and I eat dinner, watch Ray Donovan and work remotely.

10pm – we enter the disaster zone that is the kids’ room, pick them up off the floor where they passed out from exhaustion and put everything in its appropriate place.  Go back to working.

11pm – bedtime.

That, my friends, is the chaos of our house for the foreseeable future.  How long can this possibly last before we break down?  I guess we’ll see.

In the meantime, please send patience and cupcakes our way.  A little sleep and/or rational thinking wouldn’t hurt either, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’m a sucker for Sprinkles.

My happy camper

My happy camper. The other one refused to be photographed. Not that I’m calling him difficult or anything.

23 thoughts on “This Is How We Do It

  1. Well hells bells. It looks hard and you’re doing it. Incredible. Sounds like a rough road but you have to do what you have to do. Please forgive me for romanticizing this. There’s something so inspiring about hearing how you’re making this work for all of you. The nanny piece is super hard. Keeps me up at night.

    • “You have to do what you have to do.” — that’s exactly right. And although I blame my son in jest, the truth is it was too much change for ME all at one time. By adding in this extra (hellish) step, I’m easing in to work first, knowing my kids are always with someone they know and love takes so much pressure off me not being there with them. In hindsight it seems so clear, but it has been a messy muddy 3 weeks. That’s life I guess.

  2. In high school I was a caddy on the weekends, and got up in the dark to ride my bike across town to the course at 5am. In college, I was on the crew team and got up at 5am (sometimes still a ‘little’ drunk) to go to practice. Those times are some of my happiest memories.

    And I sure am happy right now in the trenches with you.

    I guess I am at my best exhausted at dawn…:)

  3. Oh, mama. Starting right off with the hug.

    Our boys seem to be cut from the same cloth, right down to the watermelon, which I now refuse to buy since *I* can’t even cut it right anymore. When I first read this earlier today, I was going to tell you that 6 is so much easier (your guy is 4, right?). Kindergarten changed Nathan in ways I never saw coming and he is much easier to deal with in many ways. It was a rough transition for sure, but his emotionally maturity grew in leaps and bounds and it’s just so much better.

    But then, we had the Great Shoe Argument, which is that in 6 years this boy has never had a pair of shoes he’s liked and that’s my fault because I only buy him uncomfortable shoes. 20 minutes of tantrum and shoe throwing ensued. So it’s not always better :) and if you see my Facebook you know a lot of times it’s still not easy. I don’t even post half of the crazy that goes on here. But then there are those moments when he’s easy-going and I realize it’s getting better, little by little, every day.

    You are doing what’s best for your family right now. It’s hard, I know it is. Stay strong.

    Here’s another hug. Reach out any time if I can help in any way.

  4. “but until you volunteer to raise him, keep your judgment to yourself and allow me my major mother flaws. ” Can I get an AMEN?! And could you send this to my mother-in-law? Your post reminds me that there are so many choices out there if we are willing to see them. Good luck to all of you!

    • Yes I will casually mention that nugget to your MIL, no problem! I should point out that this flexible arrangement has not been approved by either of our bosses, so one or both of us may be fired soon. Look out for that post!! Until then, thank you for your well wishes!

  5. Holy cats – that sounds insane. You’re suck a rock-star! Makes my life look so freaking easy right now. But it’s also inspiring for when this little baby is a bit older and I’m trying to make something work. Thanks for sharing! And good luck!

    • There’s struggle and victory in every chapter of my life, just as there was when I was about to embark on motherhood the second time around like you. I have been exactly where you are and it’s easier and harder all at the same time. There’s no comparison, only empathy. You’ve been where I am now too. Maybe it didn’t look exactly the same, but you know the battle to set boundaries, the rush you get with praise from your boss, the task of finding identity in a job that only wants to swallow you whole. We relate.

  6. Wow. That’s righteous. I wish my husband’s schedule could be flexible enough to do something like this, because I would love this child-care/work arrangement.
    Alas, there is no going in early, no flexible hours, and no working from home for him. So either we hire or I stay home. Jury is out on which works better. My money us on your arrangement. 😉

    • I made the comment to someone else — this arrangement was not approved (or told for that matter) to either of our employers. At first it was only because we had no choice, but as time goes on we’re trying to make it work. Either one or both of us may end up fired soon — wonder how that arrangement will look 😉 But for now, I do feel really lucky. I know most people couldn’t put this together even for a day — like my teacher SIL.

  7. Wow Carinn! First, I’ve missed you and am happy to be reading you again :) I actually just had a conversation with my husband about this because I really want to get a ‘big girl’ job (more than part time retail) once school starts and yours is basically the kind of schedule and trade off we will have to do as well. My son is so much like yours, he also hated daycare and I think our nanny would quit within hours if I hired one! Good luck and I hope things continue to go ok for you. Change is hard and uncomfortable for everyone but can be good and turn really awesome as well. I’m always rooting for you!

    • I have missed you too! I was stalking you on Twitter the other day but forgot to send a hello. I know the feeling of wanting to be independently productive again, but it’s really hard to transition out of mommy mode (which I love). I don’t know if there is such a thing as balance, but we all keep striving for it! Thank you for your sweet words Anna!

  8. That schedule sounds…difficult. And yet. Look at you. You’re doing it. I think I’m more angry at the nanny for quitting because seriously HE’S A CHILD. Screw difficult. More than that, though, I see how absolutely horrible our childcare/time off, etc. system is and it makes me even sadder.

    • Thank you so much for saying that. He is just a child. She was the adult who gave up even trying. I completely agree with you – it’s about the system, the stigma of “working less” and the lack of options we have to face reality.

  9. That schedule is unbelievable. For real. Y’all are amazing! Also? All kids are difficult in some way (sometimes many) because they’re KIDS. They don’t have social grace yet, or the ability to not be selfish butt holes sometimes. Eventually they become pleasant humans, with our help. You’re doing a great job – godspeed lady : )

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