One of my ex-boyfriends is just 15 months younger than his older sister. When we started dating, he told me how, shortly after he was born, his parents sent his sister to go live with the grandparents for a year because taking care of two very young kids — one of whom was extremely colicky — was just too difficult for his mother.
I remember reacting to this story with judgement. “HOW can anyone send their own child away? That’s just absurd!”
Now, being a mother to two children just 13 months apart, I can understand why they did this. Not that I want to send Claire or Aerin away, but I can understand.
In just a couple of weeks, J’s parents will be returning to Hong Kong, which means that I will no longer have help with the kids.
And I am scared.
Correction: I AM TERRIFIED.
At 16 months old, Claire is still very much a toddler just learning to be a toddler. She still falls down and trips easily. She is starting to assert her independence. She tests our boundaries. And while she certainly understands the word “No,” she is more likely than not to ignore the warning unless you find a way to distract her, or forcibly stop her (which is guaranteed to end in tears). Additionally, because she is still too young, I can’t fully reason or bargain with her.
At 3 months old, Aerin is severely attached to me. She will not let anyone else even feed her. I am the only one who can keep her from screaming her lungs out. (And yes, she has been known to continually, hysterically cry for over an hour at a time when I am not available.) Unlike Claire, who never really liked cuddling from the beginning, Aerin loves to be held and cuddled and insists on being held by her mommy at all times.
As for how I will manage to take care of both of them, all day, every day, is beyond me. Yes I can put Aerin in a carrier…but she only likes being in a carrier face-out and only for about 15 minutes at a time. I can get a big playpen and leave Claire in there, but she is at a stage where she wants, and needs to explore the world that this too, would only last about 15 minutes before she starts to throw a tantrum.
This is on top of my lack of sleep. Ever since Aerin hit a sleep regression a couple of weeks ago, I have been so tired that I feel nauseous all day. I have lost 5 lbs in one week. My concentration and patience wanes with each passing day and more often than not, I will start crying too whenever one of the kids (or both) has a meltdown.
And this is when I have help.
I have considered going back to work and putting both kids in daycare. But the good daycares in our area would cost us about $4,500/month for both kids and that’s about how much I made at my old job after taxes and other deductions — now that the economy is down and the NYC market is oversaturated with people in my field, I cannot realistically expect to earn that much when similar job descriptions are paying much less.
We have considered putting Claire in a part-time daycare, but part-time spots are rare and the waiting lists are over a year long.
We are in no financial situation to hire a nanny.
The logical thing to do would be to just tough it out. Let the kids cry. Let them watch TV when I need a break. Let the house get messy. Do whatever it takes to just survive. Trust in God. (I just wrote a post about it yesterday, for goodness sake!)
And, if push comes to shove, we will need to make additional sacrifices to hire a part-time nanny or a mother’s helper.