Posted by: thatjen | January 13, 2008

The Spinning Wheel

The past few days have brought more than a few moments of deja vu, except it’s more like being Alice and going through to the other side of the looking glass.

Friday night, we left Natalie at bedtime with a babysitter for the first time ever. Up until now, she’s only ever been cared for by a family member or J&J, the other family we swap care with. J has been taking care of her since she was four months old, and I half-seriously believe that Natalie thinks she’s a third mom (and she definitely tries to call the other J “daddy” but it weirds us all out!). But my stepfather turned 80 this week and we went out to dinner at a tres posh French restaurant past Natalie’s bedtime, so we had a neighbor’s daughter, K, come and stay with her. Although Natalie knows K, she has not been cared for by her previously, and therefore cried pathetically, reaching for us in a way that mangled our hearts as we left. Cait was tense and worried for most of the night, and I dealt with it by compartmentalizing it and trying really hard not to think about it, but we did manage to stay for the entire dinner — and only called once (she did not pick up*, but we’d told her it was ok not to). Dinner was, by the way, outstanding.

As we approached our front door, I was overwhelmed by memories of my years and years of babysitting, with the jarring knowledge that this time I was not listening for the key at the door, but instead turning the key in the lock. I paid K more than she was “owed” as had happened many times to me, finally understanding from the parent’s perspective that I would have paid far more if I’d had it, knowing that Natalie had been well-cared for. It was indescribably odd to be the one employing the babysitter after a lifetime of being the babysitter.

As it turned out, Natalie cried for about 15 minutes after we left, but K sang to her and she fell asleep in her arms. The next morning, Natalie asked each of us repeatedly if “K come play after nap?” and we were much relieved.

Jenny and Ezra welcomed Elsie Jane into the world not quite 18 hours ago, and I have already had the privilege to meet her. (A brief pause to welcome E.J. and give MAD PROPS to her moms… she is utterly adorable and her moms are unbelievable troopers, having endured an incredibly lengthy prelabor, the rigors of childbirth and THEN a harrowing transfer to the hospital to stop Jenny from bleeding. Everyone is fine now and Elsie is as cute as a button.)

The visit, too, proved to be a bit of a time warp, both backwards and forwards, as I gazed down on the tiny being making adorable but unskilled attempts to nurse. I could hardly remember Natalie being so new (she was never so small!) and it’s amusing to recall that my voracious nurser who attacks the breast like a ravenous shark was once incapable of latching on without making me feel shark-bit! At the same time I was keenly aware that if we are lucky, we’ll have a tiny one of our own next fall and we will go through the whole learning curve again.

We also began the great nursery school hunt this weekend. I feel like I am applying to college all over again, which is completely absurd! All we want is a nurturing environment where Natalie can get some opportunity to socialize with other kids her age. It’s thoroughly overwhelming and rather daunting to try and “win” a space when there are fewer than 10 spaces available and easily that many or more families at one of several orientations. If I think too much about it, I start to panic.

At the same time, I know it will be an eyeblink before the new baby is here (god willing), and then not so long until Natalie is the one doing the babysitting, and after that really applying to college. I’m really trying to live in the present so that I can savor what I have now, like the delicious interval this morning tickling and giggling with Natalie as we played on the couch. That’s a moment I would gladly experience over and over again.

*She couldn’t find the phone, as mentioned previously. Turns out I had put it on top of the laundry hamper where it was subsequently buried by clothes. And, for those who are curious, the missing poop was found on the stairs and hastily dealt with. It was, thankfully, a very self-contained turdlet.

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