Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Staying home

Look at these two.  Don't they look like they are sharing secrets only siblings could understand?
I love these photos.  Dreamy moments with my babies.
Things (moods) can change as quickly as Ethan's expressions did here.
And believe me, they did.  I should have taken Ethan's expression in the photo above as a precaution to how things would go this particular afternoon.  He refused to nap, both kids were screaming, I resorted to driving to get them to sleep (when gas was over $4/gallon) and still, more crying once they woke up.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  It was the most difficult afternoon.  I felt everything was crashing down on me.  Ethan tantrumed and cried.  Harper screamed.  I went back and forth trying to soothe each of them but that only led to more crying.  Finally, at 4:45pm when I was trying to soothe Harper, Ethan said "no, Ethan crying".  He was showing how difficult it was to adjust to being a sibling, to share our attention, and how he was dealing with Harper's crying.  During Harper's first check up, our pediatrician had suggested tending to the toddler first before the baby because the toddler will remember.  I held Ethan in my arms and he finally stopped sobbing and held a pacifier in Harper's mouth while I shhhed and reassured both of them (and myself).  It was going to be okay.  I was going to make sure of that.  Did I mention that this was the morning after Matt and I had decided I would stay at home full time?  What a first official day as a stay at home mom!  It was like they were hazing me during initiation. 
Harper doesn't smile for just anyone and she saves special ones for Ethan.
She thinks he is fun.  I do too.  And I love how squinty her eyes get when she smiles.
She also gets this look that we like to describe as her "how did I get stuck with this family?" look.  She's completely bored with us.
He loves her so.
He loved to hold her hand when she was this little.  
She always had her hands and feet clenched.  I had to pry them apart to wash the lint out from between her fingers and toes.

See the lint?
I remember this day so clearly. 

Staying at home...Harper was still very difficult and needed me.  We visited the daycare to try it out but we knew it wasn't going to work out even with my flexible, part time schedule.  The daycare we chose for Ethan is fantastic.  I knew they would love and care for Harper the same way they did for Ethan, even though she was a challenge, but Harper had needs that they couldn't meet.  At this point she had requirements of being swaddled, with a pacifier, in the swing, with the hairdryer running - just to nap for 20-30 minutes (she is not a sleeper!).  How was I going to ask the daycare to run a hairdryer?  I still had to wear her and do "the walk" for some naps in the afternoon.  One day my aunt came to visit to help and give me a break.  She tried everything but couldn't get Harper settled for more than a few minutes.  My aunt was working so hard and Harper was showing how our days usually go.  My aunt looked at me, knowing I had decided to stay at home, and said "she can't go to childcare".  It was clear to me but to have someone else see it was reassuring.

We decided to continue Ethan's "school" program but instead of 3 days a week he would attend 2 half days.  I knew I could socialize Ethan with our friends' children, but he enjoyed the structure and activities of school.  We thought it would be best to keep Ethan in the practice of attending a program so that hopefully the transition to preschool in the Fall would be easier.  He was doing much better with separation anxiety (we still have moments of that) and he was benefiting from his time at school.  It also provided me one on one time with Harper.

The agency I work for offered to keep me on staff on an "as needed" basis.  If there is a waiting list of clients, evening clients, or a class comes up, they can call me to pick up some work.  It sounds like a win-win because I do love my job as a parent educator.  As with any job, there are good days and bad days.  Same goes for being stay at home parent!  It is not a party all the time!  

It turns out work has been slow.  Referrals aren't coming in and there are budget cuts.  It's such a shame that families are still struggling but funds are being cut so there aren't as many services available to help.  I miss seeing clients.  I miss those "ah ha" moments where I felt like I really helped a parent/child/family.  I miss that inspiration and motivation.  I do not miss the frustrations, paperwork, and the other negatives of being an in-home service provider.  The good usually outweighed the bad but nothing beats being at home with these two:
The decision to stay at home came with it's own challenges ... money.  Most of my income was going to go to childcare but still, there was a loss of income.  We are making it work.  We have had to cut back in areas.  We won't be able to update our house as quickly.  We won't be able to take expensive trips/vacations.  But we're okay with that.  We knew those things going into this and made the decision that was best for our family (not for everyone).  I've joked that we were given a difficult baby to force us to make the decision for me to stay at home full time.  There is truth in that.  I am really enjoying being at home (admittedly it's the hardest work I've ever done) and I feel it was meant to be.

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