"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."~Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1816

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Wind Change

It’s been too long since I last blogged. I’ve wanted to try to post at a rate of every week to ten days, but I’ve fallen behind now that writing time has become even more precious with three little ones to watch instead of two. My big writing project in July was reporting and publishing my first newspaper article in 15 years! I only was able to do it because hubby watched the two older kids for me during the event that I covered and my mom watched Baby. She left town this morning with my dad after a visit of nearly six weeks.

Mom quickly settled into a routine here: She arrived by 8 am, helped me take the kids out for a morning outing, helped with lunch, and supervised during the afternoon so I could sleep or run errands while Toddler napped. Mom tried to leave by around 5:30 each day, after I had prepared dinner but before hubby came home and we sat down to eat. She and dad stayed at a hotel nearby and ate dinner out each night. Mom thought the time apart was essential to prevent all of us from getting sick of each other before the six weeks were up. She also wanted us to have private family time in the evening during the important rituals of dinner, bath, books, and bed. She knew we needed to adjust to our new dynamic.

To Girlie, my mom is “Nanny,” (the pet name I have for my mom’s mother too) and she certainly has lived up to the dictionary definition of that word during this transition time. She ran after Toddler at the park and was more careful to minimize knocks to his head than even I. She managed his persistent diaper rash. She played Barbies with Girlie in the afternoon. She braided Girlie’s hair. But Nanny’s chief role was baby whisperer. I noticed Baby markedly relaxed in her arms this week. He had become comfortable with this woman, master at inducing his sleep. She brought to bear every pertinent mothering skill except breastfeeding. That stressful function was reserved for me.

Fittingly, the movie “Mary Poppins” has been the soundtrack of my parents’ visit. I really can’t blame Girlie for her recent obsession, as I too find “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Chim Chim Cheree” supremely comforting. My mom enjoyed watching “Mary Poppins” again too. Its relevance to our current situation was not lost on her. “I can feel a wind change coming,” my mom tearfully said last weekend with the knowledge that her visit – and her usefulness to us while we adjusted to being a family of five – was coming to an end.

We all are better adjusted to our new family roles and responsibilities than we were six weeks ago. We are in no way close to finding a new groove, or breathing a sigh of relief, or getting more than three hours of sleep at a time, but we are blinking in the sunlight, opening our eyes, and getting a lay of the land. It is a land that is starting to seem appealing, one we might be able to navigate, if not now, then soon – hopefully.

I’m no longer frozen in fear at the prospect of facing my three children every morning without my mom’s help only because I was blessed to find a nanny – of the dictionary definition. She starts Monday. She will watch Baby and Toddler for two afternoons every week while Girlie is in preschool. In addition, my in-laws, who live nearby, will watch Baby and Girlie one morning a week while I take Toddler to preschool. So I will have a lot of help.

Actually, of the two days the nanny comes, I need to spend one afternoon with Girlie at her preschool (which is a co-cop), so I really have only one afternoon per week completely by myself. But it’s something: a little bump in the sheer rock face towering above me on which I can grab my toe.

I plan to write during that afternoon.


  1. Laura, I'm so impressed. I'm lucky to get diapers washed and hung out to dry - and I just have one to nurture- nonetheless time to write! (I feel accomplished having gotten the first part of my birth story up, though - 18 weeks later! Who knows when the second will come.)

    I'm so glad you had so much help from your mom, and I hope you guys are doing all right now that she is gone. Having a nanny sounds a great way to get some balance! (I'm jealous!) Big hugs to all!

  2. I'm impressed that you are washing diapers! I tried but didn't have the stomach for it.

    Yes, I'm thankful that we've found a little money in our budget for a nanny - and a person willing to work just a few hours a week. Getting some "me time" has made me a happier person.

    I read your birth story and am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for stopping by my blog!