Monday, September 29, 2008

And you thought my dad was the only one I kept busy in retirement

Oh, contraire. After all, why should she get to relax in her retirement? OK, so there are a thousand reasons she should get to relax in her retirement including the fact that as a stay-at-home mom until I entered school full-time, she bore the brunt of raising my sister and me. And after that, she worked part-time so that she could still run the carpool and later, be home for us when the bus dropped us off. She even convinced employers to give her the summer off for a good number of years so that she didn’t have to farm us out to other caregivers, something I am in awe of at this point in my life. My employer is the most flexible employer in the world, but I can’t imagine scoring the whole summer off.

My mom is the rock of the babysitting duo. She is the one who changes diapers, washes and folds the laundry, and gets Helen to sleep. She is the one who has been known to walk Helen through the trials of reflux in the middle of the night so I could catch a break. The only "maintenance" task that she regularly offloads to my dad is feeding. Her status as the caregiver who gets most tasks done is only fair because I cannot tell you the number of times my mother wished that I would have a child just like me someday and do you know what? Her wish might have come true. And had she thought she would be in charge of that child for about a month each year, she might have wished differently, like maybe “I hope you have a child who does exactly what you want them to all the time”. But alas, it is too late for that wish.

Connor is exactly the kind of child that was sent to earth for the sole purpose of torturing my mother. You see, she (like many rational people), thinks it reasonable to say “put your shoes on”, and have someone respond by, well, putting their shoes on. But, Connor’s reaction to this statement? It’s possible he will put his shoes on. But it is equally possible that all of a sudden his feet that were only moments ago running around in circles carrying him in Tasmanian devil style will all of a sudden move as if they are slogging through snow up to his waist. If you look closely when he does this, you can almost see the steam come out of my mother’s ears. I believe I used to do the same thing. But even better, you can tell Connor to “please find your shoes” and do you know what the little dude will do? He will look up at the ceiling, almost instinctively. Just. Like. I. Did. This could drive even Jiddu Krishnamurti to have high blood pressure. Fortunately, I have learned to cope with this for the most part, so it doesn't grate on my nerves daily.

But Connor can also be the sweetest kid ever and he loves sidling up to my mom and having her read 2 or 10 or 30 books - or however many my mom can get through (which is a lot!). He loves that she climbs on the playground equipment with her, gives him gummi bears, and somehow finds endless fonts of energy in his presence. So, even though he can make someone nuts, he is not hard to fall in love with.

Helen, well, who knows how she'll turn out? Lately, we've been getting a taste that she is a bit stubborn. And, if this holds true, my mom can expect lots of exasperated calls in the future that start with "what did you do with me when I...". And, no doubt, when my parents visit or meet us somewhere, my mom will once again be reminded why she does not want to run a daycare, but hopefully also see how fun it can be for just a week at a time.

And, like I warned Dad, Mom, they're only getting smarter and faster, so you might want to take this next week to rest up before you come visit.


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