Musings from the Mom of an Almost One-Year-Old (Part III)

>> Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is my mini-series on thoughts about going from being the AP mama of a baby to the AP mama of a toddler.
Part I is here.
Part II is here.

Part III: Baby-sitters

I have never left my baby with anyone except my mom. And even she hasn't watched him in several months, due to some health problems that make it too hard for her to care for him. So since January, he has never been away from either his father or I. And it shows. He's very attached to us. He doesn't like to be held by strangers and it takes him a good while to warm up to people.

I never meant for it to be like this. Honestly. It's just that we have no one that we can trust to leave him with.

My sister gets all bent out of shape if he slobbers on her clothes or messes up her hair. She's clearly out as a baby-sitter. She holds him like he has cooties.

I would die before I'd ever leave him alone with my father. Ever. It is just never going to happen. Even in our will and guardianship papers, we are leaving strict instructions that they are not to be alone together until Baboo is a teenager.

I have a couple of cousins with children who I would love to organize a baby-sitting swap with, but they all live at least 45 minutes to an hour away. Not convenient.

We don't really have any friends that would want to watch him.

The Hubbs family lives on the other side of the country.

Originally, I had hoped that once he reached the one month mark I'd be able to leave him at the church nursery during services and various young adult events. I'd hope that by doing that, he'd just be used to it (at one month he didn't care who was holding him, as long as someone was). It's just that he was born during the whole swine flu outbreak, and I've worked in that nursery. I KNOW some of the teachers ignore the rules about washing their hands and using sanitizer. I KNOW that they let the babies slobber all over the toys, and that they are not sanitized on a regular basis. I just wasn't going to leave my baby there when he could get really sick.

Once the outbreak was finally over, he was over 7 months old, and firmly entrenched in his desire to never be away from my husband or I. And now I don't know what to do.

The swine flu is no longer much of a concern, so do I try the church nursery? Do I just drop him off and let him cry? Because I need my marriage back. I need my son to be able to stay with a sitter so that The Hubbs and I can have some alone time together. It doesn't have to be long. It could be even just an hour for dinner or two hours for a movie. It could be 45 minutes for coffee. Just SOME semblance of normalcy. Some small indication that we are still a couple, and not just two friends who happen to be parenting a child. I wouldn't leave him in the nursery to scream for an hour and a half. I'm thinking I'd drop him off for 10 minutes the first time, then go get him if he didn't calm down. Then 20 minutes the second time. Then half an hour the third time, and so on.

I don't know. I'm really just making it up. I just want him to be able to know that when Mommy and Daddy leave, we come back. I want him to know that other people can meet his needs, and that he's okay and can have a good time without us. When is a good age to start teaching him that, now that I've clearly missed the newborn window where they really don't care WHO they're left with? Should I try now? When he turns one? Should I wait until he's closer to one and a half, two years old, and I can actually explain to him that I'm going and that I'll be back? Of course I expect that he'll still cry, but at least he'll be able to understand that we aren't just abandoning him.

Once he got used to the nursery, we'd be able to find a baby-sitter. We plan on putting ads up for Early Childhood Education students at the community college. I'm sure there's someone there who'd like to make a few extra bucks. And then my husband and I could have weekly or bi-weekly dates. I could have the baby-sitter come over a few times and pay them to just hang out with us as a family so our Sweet Baboo could get to know them. Then the first time we could go out for just half an hour, just as a trial. I just feel like our whole first year of parenthood, we've been totally immersed in our son and we need to come back up for air.

I love him more than anything, and I know my husband feels the same, but if our marriage suffers then we all suffer. And I really don't think it can be good for him to NEVER know what its like to be away from us. I don't know. What do you think?


Kate West June 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

Leave him. He'll stop crying shortly after you leave and he'll be FINE. I promise.

It used to torture me at first, but now I know it's just her age and normal separation anxiety. Five minutes later they don't really even know that you're missing. It's an out of sight out of mind thing at this age, I think.

You have to have time together with your husband. It's important for your marriage.

Start small and work your way up to leaving him for longer periods of time. Good luck mama!

Anonymous June 10, 2010 at 12:08 AM  

OK, the 10, 20, 30 minutes thing sounds like asking for trouble to me. If he cries for 10 minutes and you come back, he learned crying for 10 minutes gets you back, and crying for 10 minutes is no longer a big deal, just what's necessary. You're basically teaching him to cry longer and longer by slowly extending how long he has to cry to get you back. If you're going to leave him..leave him. Until he calms down and learns it can be fun. I used to babysit for a little girl who went through a phase of crying while mom was gone. She cried, so I paced the house and sang to her. And after a few times of this happening and her parents not coming back, she learned that it was OK, crying wasn't doing her any good, and settled down and loved spending time with me.

Some kids are more stubborn than others. But teaching them that getting upset gets mom to come back every time isn't doing them favors...because then they're learning to live in a state where they're upset.

It's hard. You don't want to just abandon you've either got to build up really slowly (you being there, someone else co-holding, or sitting on two people's laps, slowly moving to other people holding with you in the room, slowly moving to you leaving longer and longer) or just letting them deal while you're gone and not giving in.

Anonymous June 10, 2010 at 12:10 AM  

Of course, I say this with the caveat that I have no kids :-) So I'm SUPER smart! :-P

Hopefully this doesn't offend...I'm a dog trainer, and in some things dogs and kids are similar...esp. dogs and infants. I constantly have mom saying, "That's just like with kids!" when I give them advice for their dogs. But all of my experience is purely canine at this point!

The Psycho Mama June 10, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

Haha, no worries, I'm not offended. My son IS kind of an animal. For awhile my husband was doing the sign for "monkey" whenever he said his name :P

Thanks for the advice ladies. I'm really, really nervous about the thought of leaving him. What if they don't want to deal with it and page me? What if he screams until he pukes? What if he never trusts me again? Its freaking me out!


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