I. Can’t. Even.
If someone would’ve told me 1 year ago that I would be so undecided, sad and jealous when deciding to leave my baby with a nanny, I would have probably laughed in their face and told them to p*^s off because I need a nanny and a maid and a chef and three grandmas. But now I don’t. Not anymore. Now I’m more confused than ever. I have decided to get in business, make more time for myself (gym, nutrition, relax, me-time) and get help. Called the agency, had the interviews, found the one. And now instead of feeling relieved that I have found an empathetic, careful, protective, loving babysitter that looks after my child almost as a grandma would, I feel lonely and I am jealous for every single sweet thing she says to him, and I feel like having two more kids…right now. How weird is this? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I highly doubt it. I guess after being with my son for 1 year and a half every day, after putting him to sleep every afternoon and night (with the exceptions upon he was at my parents’ house or when we were away on holiday), after going to the park with him every day, at cafés, restaurants, hair salons and everywhere else I needed to, now I can just leave him at home, with her, and she does the rest. And let me tell you, the line between sanity and insanity is so thin, I sometimes think I fell into the “in-” part.
As great of a relief it is to be able to go away when I have to, to be “spontaneous” with my work schedule, free time or my girlfriends’ rendez-vous, it feels just so weird to somehow exclude him. If before I wanted time off for myself, but very often couldn’t, now I fee like taking time off from her. (yes I have her for two weeks now, yes I’m crazy, ok?!) I’ve stayed at home with them in the first days, I’ve come home for nap time every day in these two weeks so that my son has me there, like he’s used to, I’ve taken every evening after she’s gone to be with him and be just the two of us, like before. And it feels great, but my jealousy and “mom guilt” haven’t left me yet.
It gets me thinking that maybe there are two types of moms – the ones made to take nannies within the first months after giving birth, and the ones that sacrifice everything else and dedicate their whole time and energy to the kids, until they go to…school. Ok, kindergarden, I don’t wanna be mean. It got me thinking that taking a babysitter or taking them to a daycare from the early months makes both your decision – and your life consequently- so much easier. You don’t feel the real deal, the real one-on-one connection and pure joy until they turn about …one. Until then they are continuously evolving, growing, learning, discovering – themselves, you and the rest-. But after they turn one, everything changes. They start walking, they start bubblering words and saying “mamma” and “dada”, they start learning to do things by themselves, they copy your moves, gestures and words, they get to know YOU and at the same time, they experience that “independent” side of their being. And not being there to witness all this would be tragic in my opinion. I would have rather taken some ‘time off’ during the colics time or the teething period, not now. Now it’s all happening so fast, the baby you knew is turning into a little boy, and the mother-son bond becomes stronger every day. My question is then: when is the right time to detach yourself a little?
Do you know those mums at the beach, who lay in the sun, getting that perfect tan, scrolling their iPhones or sipping Margaritas with the girls while their kids are busy racing to the sea and back, and building sandcastles and stripping their bathing suits of? Well, you bet those mums have nannies around, or grandmas in the worst case. Have you noticed that there is always someone there with the kids? That they don’t have to get up every 15 seconds to say “No” or “Careful” or “Don’t go there”, that they get to finish their Frappé before it melts or gets sprinkled with sand? (I for one don’t remember having achieved this last summer with my 9-month old). However, I bet you they do not feel guilty for a second for having a nanny. Or for soaking up some sun. Because the kids are looked after, and the sun still shines upon them even if they don’t run marathons on the sea shore. One word: relaxation. My husband is fed up with me repeating that we should let the nanny go every single day, and then taking it back the next. I definitely still lack that relaxation I was talking about before.
And I must say…I admire them. These mums who choose to put themselves first, who acknowledge the need for help, who know how to ask and get help, and who realise that if you keep yourself and your relationship sane, the baby will be happy, and you as well. Who said ‘Happy mom, happy dad, happy child’ was not mistaken. Because when you feel good about yourself, when you feel beautiful, and relaxed and in peace, you give it on to your child. And instead of sensing fear, worries or despair, he will feel your calmness and joy.This is what quality time means. I’ve come to not fear about my toddler not eating enough, not sleeping late, or not playing with the right toys (I’ve never had these fears, but I could’ve had), to fearing that I will focus too much on him, and too less on me and my husband. I’ve come to see the huge difference I can make on my own only by choosing to dress nicely when I’m home all day with my son, when I cook, when I go out to the park or when we go shopping together. Feeling pretty and sexy and put-together, as a mom, means you are one! And there’s nothing I love more than feeling hotly young and feeling momsy at the same time.
What you think, you become.
I like to think I am in control of this whole motherhood deal, that I am giving myself enough space and my boyfriend enough attention for our relationship to stay sane (…and not only, but that’s another topic), and also my child enough time to feel loved, protected and safe with me, with us. Someone told me something recently, that stuck to my mind and always will:
“What you did in this one year and a half was the most important job you’ve ever done or ever will do – you have created a destiny. You have dedicated this time to him, you’ve shown him love and care, you have played, you have educated and you have made him self-secure, independent, and safe. This is the greatest investment of your life.”
That time that you spend at home, with your baby, whether it’s months, 1 year or 2, it’s priceless. That is what matters and that is when you have to make sure to make it count. I started to understand how much quality weighs over quantity, but this also took me some time to digest. If you’re constantly tired and cranky, better think about taking some time off, getting help, and start relaxing. When you’re with the baby, be all there, no matter how much time every day. And when you want to get back to your old working or social life, leave the #MomGuilt aside- it’s useless and it’s bulls&*^.
So what I’ve learnt so far from this experience is that nobody ever prepares you for this. For the first year of motherhood when you feel so confused and helpless and lost at times; for the day you decide to go back to work, or for the time when you take a nanny or take your kids to daycare or kindergarden. It all sounds so natural in theory, and you imagine yourself as one of those moms in Vogue who are always out and about and the kids are alright. But it’s not like this at all. I thought the same about myself, and here I am now, doubting whether it’s the right time, the right decision or the right place for me. I slowly begin to think it is. It might take me a while to get used to it and not fire the nanny, but what I can say now is that these extra me-hours start feeling damn good.