Stress - and pelvic pain - eats away at a person, nagging and nagging like a cartoon housewife. It seeps into relationships and turns simple requests, "Can you turn the kitchen light off?" into attitude problems, it pushes moms to yell at their kids about silly things, and it brings about panic attacks. Last week I felt like I was going to explode in a fury of angry, screaming tears. Matt reminded me that his co-worker's teenage daughter is looking to take on babysitting work and is available during daytime hours. I've never had someone watch the girls who is not family or a friend, but after giving it some thought, I decided we were ready to give this girl a shot. I called her up. She welcomed the job: watching Eleanor while I took Abigail up to equine therapy. And it was marvelous.
This is how it normally goes:
- I have to bring snacks and toys along with me. My diaper bag is bulging and heavy. I lug it, two kids, and this pregnant belly to the car, I corral one kid while I strap in the other, then I strap in the second kid, I collapse in the driver's seat with shoulder and back pain.
-We arrive at therapy, on goes the heavy diaper bag (board books weigh a freakin' ton), unstrap this kid, convince her not to run to the horses while I unstrap that kid, get everyone inside.
-Sit Eleanor down next to a friendly-looking mom - sitting next to a stranger turns Eleanor into a perfect angel who refuses to move a muscle, sitting near a friendly-looking mom means if she does try to get down, the other mom will stop her. Get Abigail a helmet and adjust it so it fits. Sit her on a horse.
-Return to Eleanor and try to keep her contained on my lap. It's like going to Sunday Mass but with a toy. Sit here, don't shriek. No, you can't run around. If the therapist decides to head to the outdoor arena, there is a place for Eleanor to play, but then I have to re-pack and lug everything outside.
-When therapy is over, I help Abigail take her helmet off and return it to it's proper place. Strap on the diaper bag. Pick up Eleanor, who is refusing to walk because she's mad about something or other. Have Abigail say, "Thank you" and "Goodbye" to the therapist, lead walker person, and her horse.
-Lug the diaper bag, two kids, and my pregnant belly to the car. I corral Abigail while I strap in Eleanor, strap in Abigail who is angry because she has to leave the horses, collapse in the driver's seat with shoulder and back pain.
-We arrive at home and I lug everyone and everything across the parking lot into the apartment building and to our apartment. I am probably carrying someone who refused to cooperate, along with a heavy, bulging diaper bag, and my almost-third-trimester belly.
I know what you're thinking: That sounds fabulous, you should count this experience among your blessings. I mean, I know, and I totally was, except not really.
It would definitely all be something I could manage if I weren't pregnant. There is something about back pain, pelvic pain, a lack of sleep, heartburn, hot flashes, and an extra 20 pounds attached to the front of my body that makes taking two kids out of the house make me want to cry.
So the babysitter arrived today (early, I might add) and therapy looked like this today:
-I put mine and Abigail's shoes on, slip a little crochet project in my diaper bag, and hold her hand all cutely as we walk to the car. I put Abigail in the car and get into the driver's seat.
-We arrive at therapy. I get Abigail's helmet. I put her on the horse, sit down, and pull out my crochet project.
-When therapy is over, I help Abigail take her helmet off and return it to it's proper place. I pick up my diaper bag and have Abigail say, "Thank you" and "Goodbye" to the therapist, lead walker person, and her horse.
-We walk to the car. I strap in Abigail who is angry because she has to leave the horses, but it isn't very hard because my diaper bag strap is not digging into my neck and without another kid, I can give Abigail's outburst my full attention.
-We arrive at home and I hold Abigail's hand as we walk across the parking lot into the apartment building and to our apartment.
I felt as relaxed when we got home as I do after a taking a Saturday morning and going somewhere by myself. Seriously, the weight off my shoulders from having a solid 60 minutes to sit outside and do something I enjoy...I got through the rest of the evening without praying for chocolate to rain from the sky. And Eleanor was so refreshed from her break from Abigail that the two girls played relatively nicely together for the rest of the usually death-inducing witching hour.
I was so excited, I understood why guys hire professional photographers to hide in the bushes when they propose.
Abigail's eating clinic appointments are even tougher than the equine therapy appointments. I have to sit in on all Abigail's sessions, so there is no waiting room playtime for us. The therapy room is tiny and Eleanor is jealous that Abigail gets to play with these fun, new toys and eat food and she doesn't. I seriously have to bring twice the amount of food so Eleanor can have some and I have a few special "therapy only" toys and books that I bring that Eleanor only gets to play with when Abigail has therapy. It does alright, except that my attention is divided between paying attention to what the therapist is saying and keeping Eleanor from shoving her goldfish crackers in the electrical outlet. And then there's the "lug a diaper bag crammed full, a lunch box, two kids, and a pregnant belly" thing. Across two parking lots. And get everyone strapped into the car without anyone getting run over.
I am so thankful she popped into our lives at exactly this moment: the moment when I was thinking of stopping therapy until the baby was born because I simply could not handle it anymore. I finally hit the point where paying $15 to go to an eating clinic appointment with only one kid sounded like a bargain.
It's incredible to me how much one break has lifted my spirits. How rationally I can look at new shoes and birthday presents now. No matter how much I schedule Mommy Mornings Off, Date Nights, and Family Escapades, it's the little bursts of relief throughout the day that do the most good.
And we still might stop therapy once school gets started, partially because we aren't made of money and partially because school itself takes a lot out of Abigail. And we still have to figure out the house decision, and