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Kangaroo Spotting

30 31 32 36 32 36 37 38 Kangaroo Spotting: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Child Care, the Benefit and the Burden

I have dark circles around my eyes and not the fun kind.  The last time I left the house was over seven days ago.

We've been forced into hibernation again.  This time the culprit is a nasty virus- barely preferable to depression....but it's lurking in the walls of our self-imposed incarceration.

I’m not sure where she picked up the bug, but it hit Lavinia Sunday evening and by midnight we were in the Emergency Room.

What started with a runny nose escalated into vomiting and fever.  The thermometer wasn't reading accurately and a house call could have taken hours.

At 3:30 am behind a curtain and beneath florescent lights I held my naked baby whom Matt just shushed to sleep, a small container poised to collect urine beneath her.  Her warm, pink body so vulnerable in my arms, it was like holding onto my insides.

My neck and back were aching from the plastic chair we perched in.  I silently begged her to pee so we could test it and take her home.  I was already covered with vomit and snot- what’s another gross bodily fluid? It was a new low point.

At least Matt was there for this, our second ER visit that week (for a possible concussion days earlier.) Unfortunately the only available target for my frustration and helplessness I shot daggers at my husband for not being able to locate the doctor.

We took our baby home at 4 am and put her to bed.

Twenty-four hours later, Matt caught the virus and by the next weekend, I had it too.

It’s possible Lavinia caught the bug from childcare.   And why deny myself the chance to feel guilty about it?

I enrolled Lavinia in ‘Occasional Care,’ a five hour session, one day per week.  I loved the idea of autonomy.  A chance to make appointments without checking with someone else first.  A break.  Time to rest.  To create.  To exercise or to take naps.  

Seemingly a stroke of brilliance, I still struggled with the concept.  It felt selfish.  I’m on maternity leave- how dare I put Lavinia in the care of strangers?  And pay for the privilege? What would people think?

My mother in law is always willing to come down when we need her- even if just for sleep, but I just can’t justify asking her to make the four-hour-round-trip so I can shave my legs and watch an episode of Orange is the New Black.  That’s not cool. 

Even so, I felt like I needed a few hours to do stupid things.  I knew something had to give when I started feeling jealous of Matt’s commute to and from work.

Lavinia has been to childcare twice so far.  After returning home from dropping her off the first time, I pulled into our driveway alone. I did not race to unlock the door, grab bags or unbuckle the car seat.  There were a million things I could do, free from so many burdens.  

I sat in the drivers seat.  Engine off.  On my phone. Looking at Facebook.   

Once I gathered the courage to enter our quiet home, I immediately turned my ringer on in case the carers called me.  Reminding myself to maximize the next few hours, I took a long shower (phone within reach), cooked a hot breakfast and wrote a blog post.  Next minute, it was time to go pick up Lavinia.

Giddy with excitement I drove back to the childcare center early (as planned) and found Lavnia had charmed everyone in the place.  She napped, had a bottle, a snack, lunch, and played with the other little kids.  She was so tired and happy that when we got home she took a long afternoon nap.

If you ask me, this was a successful first day for both of us.

I’m sure it will get easier each time- like a prisoner fresh out of jail, I need to reintegrate myself into the community.

I used to think that by saying; ‘childcare is good for development and social skills,’ working parents were just trying to make themselves feel better.   Now I realize it’s a true statement. 

Lavinia lit up when we walked into the place on her second day of childcare.  She was delighted at the sight of the older kids and practically leapt into the arms of a young carer. 

The "day care solution" will not fix everything.  Five hours flip by surprisingly fast but it’s a start. 

I will still have to rely on my village, but if it makes me happier, this indulgent, weekly respite will benefit my entire family.

Ahh Choo!

You look like you need a tissue Mommy

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Everything's Fine

“I’m fine.”

Chances are when you get that in response to a question, it’s untrue. 

It’s definitely not true if you ever hear me say it.

Lately I have been thinking about honesty. It’s such a difficult thing to be sometimes, honest. I care too much about what people think, which is why it’s taken me so long to start writing again. 

When you worry about what people think, you censor yourself. In a recent post I wrote some things that were hurtful to people I love deeply. They were wounded by my words. I am not proud of this.

The truth is often subjective. I look at life through the biased lens of my own experience. I meant it when I said that depression is selfish because when I’m depressed I tend to take things so damn personally (as if it’s all about me all the time).

It’s much easier to blame others for why we are feeling badly.   It’s much harder to accept responsibility for over-analyzing or taking comments to heart. Last week I found myself in a dark place, pointing fingers at anyone but myself.

As a consequence of what I wrote, I had some difficult conversations with family members. Raw, uncomfortable and vulnerable.

I realized today that I dislike vulnerability. A lot. My mother raised me to be strong and tough so I wouldn't feel as much pain out in the world. As a result I tend to view vulnerability as a weakness.

I’m grateful those difficult conversations were had. I feel that they are just the beginnings of better, more honest communication. I am working on not pretending to be fine. On letting certain things slide. On creating some healthy distance between other people’s actions and my own heart.  

I’d also like to stop being an expert at putting my game-face on. I can walk into a social setting, dripping with homesickness, devastated from an argument or stressed out about work- and the smiles and jokes would flow as if it were a normal day.

I barely made it to a talk called “Adjusting to New Parenting,” with my mother’s group. I was stressed and exhausted with my newborn at the time. I breezed in 10 minutes late, flustered and anxious but must have concealed it well.

The talk was actually about Post Natal Depression. The organizers gave it a different title in order to attract more people. There were three of us in attendance. Maybe word had gotten out. I remember someone making a comment, “Well since we are the ones who actually made it here, I don’t think we are the ones who need help.” She then proceeded to ask how she could help others who might be struggling.

I remember learning that day, usually the mothers who seem like they have it together are the ones struggling most.

Am I that person?

I have not told my Mother’s group about this blog or that I’m in counselling. I mean we talk about EVERYTHING in gory detail. Of all people who would be able to understand exactly what I’m going through....they would!

I spoke about this with my therapist today (who has grown on me quite a lot since my initial resistance). She asked me what I felt about not sharing with my Mother’s group. I squirmed in my seat like I squirm every time a caring friend asks me: “How are you doing?”

My first thought was maybe I’m just sick of talking about it....but I don’t think that’s honest. It’s actually the vulnerability I’m shying away from. 

I’m now starting to see it takes more strength and courage to show weakness than it does to put a mask on and pretend "everything's fine.”

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