Monday, December 6, 2010

Who's Watching the Baby?

Ryan definitely wins a gold star award for surviving the past couple of weeks without having (or giving anyone else) a nervous breakdown. Since Herb and I are both performing in the Reagle Christmas show, Ryan was with a babysitter for several evenings last week, all day last Sunday, every night Monday through Friday this week, and all day on Saturday and Sunday. A good bit of the time, he’s been with one of his grandmothers or his aunt and cousins, and at his own house, but he spent several times with a less familiar sitter, or being passed between two different sitters, and once he spent most of the day at the theater being watched by a bunch of different people. So when we got home at the end of yesterday’s performance, it was no surprise that he was starting to have a bit of a meltdown. All of the sitters were great with him, but I think he was just relieved to finally be with Mommy and Daddy.

He was so happy this morning to play with me in his playroom. A few times I went into the study to check my e-mail or into the laundry room to do something, and he immediately protested. Normally, I’d let him yell for a few minutes but after the week he’s had, I immediately went in to show him that I was there. And above and beyond reassuring him, I had missed playing with him so much! The past few mornings, even though I’d been home, I was so busy getting ready for the show and getting ready for the sitter that I hadn’t been able to play with him as much as usual, so having the chance to just relax and enjoy his company was a real pleasure.

There are days when I want to tear my hair out because he wants my constant attention, and sometimes I feel like I never have a second to myself except when he’s napping. But mornings like this morning remind me how much I enjoy being with him and just watching him play and learn and explore. He spent the morning marching around the basement with an old red bucket he’d found somewhere. He swung it back and forth for a while, giggling as it pivoted on its metal handle. He spent some time picking up various small toys and carefully dropping them into the bucket, then taking them out and strewing them all over the floor. At one point he even put it on his head like a hat, and then slid it down over his face and sang into it, chortling at the funny echo it made. If he’d been with a babysitter, I’d have missed that charming moment!

But at the same time, I know it’s good for him to spend time with other people. There will be times when we have no choice but to leave him with someone else for a while, either someone he already knows (like a grandmother or an aunt or a sitter he’s familiar with) or someone who’s a stranger or nearly a stranger to him (like a new babysitter). So we need to teach him that he’s okay when someone else is with him and Mommy and Daddy aren’t around. And he needs to learn that sometimes Mommy and Daddy go away for a while but that we’ll always come back, and that he’ll be well taken care of until we do.

So I guess the bottom line is that as difficult as this past week was for him and for me, it’s been good for him to learn that it’s okay when someone else is taking care of him. And it’s definitely been good for me to learn that it’s okay when someone else is taking care of him. But I’m still happiest when the someone taking care of him is me.

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