Yesterday I was minding my own business at work, deep into a pile of deadline projects (due tomorrow). My husband CT was prepping for his third round of an interview for a dream job. My daughter Issy would be returning from her dad’s that day. Our next respite weekend with the babies was another week and a half away.
That morning, I’d received a gorgeous box of candy and doughnuts from a friend, an amazing gift she sent because she thought we deserved some kindness after all we do for the babies 💗
Talk about divine timing. Or irony.
After lunch, we got the call. The babies needed a place to stay – their whanau caregiver was in hospital. At least tonight, maybe tomorrow, maybe longer.
Why now, I thought. Of all the days.
CT freaked. He needed to prep for his interview. He needed to sleep well. I was up to my eyeballs at work. I could not take half days or work from home.
Is there anyone else? I asked. Any other whanau?
No, no one. The girls would likely be split up and put into different foster homes.
So CT and I hashed it out. And said yes, because I couldn’t live with myself if we’d said no.
To manage this, we hyper-extended ourselves. I collected the girls and they cried for 75% of the 75-minute drive. Ana because she was over being in her seat, and Baby because she had been sleeping when I got her, awoke, realised I was there but she couldn’t get to me, and lost her sh*t for 40 minutes.
CT and I struggled through the girls’ marathon 2-hour bedtimes, tag teaming so he could study his material. We were up today at 5:30am on broken sleep, trying to get me out the door early with the babies to take them to their daycare on the other side of town.
We left late. I got lost. It took me 2 hours to get to work.
Coming home mid-afternoon, traffic was diabolical. Another 90 minutes. I lost my sh*t. I cried for 10 of the 90 minutes.
You know, only light sobbing, so as not to traumatise the kids.
Tonight, we braced ourselves for a long-haul visit, beyond a few days, because you never know. To prepare, I decided to re-sleep-train the kids with controlled timed crying, so as to save our sanity and back muscles. We’d done this when they lived with us full-time, and it saved everyone’s lives. I also can’t get onside with Ana newly needing a bottle of milk to fall asleep at nearly 2 years old plus 2 hours of music and shhh-ing and cuddles, or Baby needing 15 minutes of back patting and 20 minutes of wrestling her back into the crib before that. We couldn’t survive like that if they stayed longer.
Well. It was very painful. Baby was furious. Ana was a snotty, tearful mess. It was hard but they both were out within 30 minutes (of many intervals with soothing back rubs).
I still had to do work. I haven’t finished it yet. It’s due by 9:30 tomorrow. I’m still awake. At least, I felt, it’s great that the babies’ sleep would once again be sorted within a few days of the method.
Got the text. Girls going back tomorrow.
Now I feel terrible. Both girls were crying for me at bedtime; both call me Mama or Mummy as of yesterday. I’m officially their Other Mother. And I put them through rounds of shrieking and ugly sobs for nothing.
They only wanted to be close. Now they’re leaving again. Little beings who love me and call me Mama.
Life feels unfair. I feel like a monster. I still know they need that sleep training. I’m so tired.
As I brushed my teeth tonight, I glanced at the little tub we got for them within the shower, at all their bath toys, and tried to remember that they’d had a nice time here, that they feel safe here, that they love us. It feels like a huge responsibility, a blessing, and a natural disaster all at once.
Goodnight, world. See you again at 5am. Good thing there’s still lots of candy left for tomorrow when they’re gone.