Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Saved By The Sitter

Someone recently asked me what I DO all day as a SAHM. 
I was very frank with my answer.  
I sit around on the couch eating bon bons, painting my toenails, and watching soaps. NATCH!
The truth is, I prefer chocolate chip cookies, I loathe doing my own toes (when I bend over I can see my baby fat rolls and the hint of a C-Section scar = EW!), and I don't think I've ever actually had the patience to sit through an entire daytime "story".
Enter reality... 
I get up at the crack of dawn (sometimes earlier), eat breakfast standing at the kitchen sink while shoveling lumpy oatmeal into my daughter's mouth, finish my breakfast while scooping Cheerios off the floor and tossing the leftovers into my own mouth, spend way too much time making the bed, sunscreening up, getting dressed, changing an oatmeal poop diaper, filling a sippy cup, brushing my teeth, trying to teach Mackenzie how to brush HER teeth...

I then go to Stroller Strides for a kick-ass workout and the holistic benefits of mother-to-mother interaction, come home, eat lunch standing at the kitchen sink while shoveling chicken, broccoli, hot dogs, pb & j, baked beans, yogurt, Cheerios, string cheese, sweet potatoes, whatever my daughter will eat into her mouth. 
Then I spend a few hours following Mackenzie around the house picking up each and every household item she removes from its proper place and drops just about anywhere she wants. 
Then I do enough laundry to dress an army. 
Then I pray that Mackenzie will take a nap. 
Then I literally contort myself into a pretzel in order to get toys out from under the couch. 
Then we go to the pool and I wonder if I'm wearing the appropriate "mom" pool attire. 
I then manage to clean myself while my one-year-old gremlin bangs on the shower door with various toys.  
Then it's more hovering over the kitchen sink while I try to finagle my way into giving Mackenzie a proper dinner, all the while attempting to make something that resembles a meal for Doug and I to eat later on.  
Then it's a bath for Mackenzie, during which she undoubtedly tries to sprint across the tub, inevitably slipping and nearly cracking open her head.
By the time her bath is done I can barely dry her wriggling body before she makes a run for it and ends up deep within the bowels of my closet where she goes to town pulling out all of my cute handbags and shoes (none of which will ever see the light of day now that I'm a mother and I seem to be confined to diaper bags, sneakers, and flip flops). 
But this blog exists not merely for the sake of complaining (AS IF!!!!) 
I'm using this post to salute my newfound savior... 
My beloved sitter (who shall remain nameless for privacy reasons, naturally... and also  more importantly because I don't want any of you pesky moms to snatch her away from me!) 
A recent study by Australian researchers reported that a few hours of "formal" child care a week can alleviate the negative effects of maternal depression on children. 
Now, I hardly consider myself depressed by any means.  
But even mothers who experience occasional (OK - let's be honest) day-to-day maternal growing pains could benefit from some outside help. 
There are times in a SAHM's life where you JUST. CAN'T. TAKE IT ANYMORE. 
And those are the times that our children end up needing us the most.  Or they need SOMEONE to step in and assure them that they're doing fine, it's just not cool to rip up the magazine that mommy has been trying to read for the last two months.  OR... it just won't fly when you toss mommy's phone in the tub when she's running the bath for you.  OR... it's not acceptable for you to throw the laundry in the air right after your mother has diligently folded it.  
It's in these moments where children (according to the study!) may need a neutral figure to teach them right and wrong, and where a mother who's been pushed over the edge may not be able to grapple with reality and compose herself long enough to reason with the child. 
But this is easier said than done.  Especially when your entire world revolves around a single person. 
When it comes to leaving your kid home alone with a relative stranger, nothing is more important than timing (that is, after you've done extensive background checks, contacted all known recommendations, written down said sitter's license plate number, and searched her Facebook page). 
The first few times I left Mackenzie with the sitter it was utter torture.  
On one occasion I collapsed in Doug's arms in tears. 
But a mother needs her space.  
It's the only way she can dig deep down and muster up the strength to deal with the whirlwind ways of a toddler who's always on the go, and always seems to have... 
- An incessant need to talk 
- An obsession with all things sharp and dangerous
- A lack of care or concern for personal property or space (hasn't Mackenzie ever seen Dirty Dancing??? my space/your space!) 
So here's to "formal" child care providers everywhere. 
Thank you for your innate ability and extensive training. 
It gives me the leeway to spend three collective hours... 
- Basking in the sun solo, rather than chasing a stumbling toddler around the pool, spending each moment on the brink of a heart attack as Mackenzie attempts to take an Olympic dive into the water
- Filling my car with gas, without a screaming toddler protesting the fact that no engine equals no more Rihanna on the radio 
-  Getting the car washed, sans a one year old who thinks the suds will inevitably swallow her whole
- Going to the drug store without having to weave the stroller in and out of narrow aisles 
- Getting a fountain soda, and nothing else, from McDonald's -- not a huge deal with a toddler but OH! SO delicious 
- Writing a few thank you cards without Mackenzie trying to eat the pen, paper, and stamps
- Checking the mailbox for my latest eBay purchases: 1 Lululemon Power Y Tank, and 1 Skip Hop Zoo Pack 
- Coming home a half hour before the sitter expects to leave and holing up in the basement so that I can catch up on emails and trashy celebrity gossip... SO worth the money spent on a sitter!!! 
These small indulgences may seem like chump change to most of you, but for me they're worth their weight in gold.  

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