Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Filling In

In a couple weeks my mother and my brother, who are both raising my 7-year-old niece, will be traveling to New Jersey for my brother to have a headache surgery that could change his life. The surgery and the recovery will take three weeks. My niece C is nearing the end of her first grade year, and three weeks is a long time time be out of school, so my mother begged me for a favor.

We don't live in the same city as my parents; we live in Chicago, my folks are about an hour away. The problem? They need someone to be at their house and get C ready for school in the morning, and someone to stay with her at night. My dad can probably handle the nights, but because he's just starting a new job with a long commute, he isn't able to take C to school.

It boggles my mind how difficult it is fitting a 7-year-old into my life for three weeks. It would be easier if we were in the same city, but even then it would be very disruptive. As it stands, my mother expects me to stay at their house several nights a week -- my grandmother will handle the rest -- which means I won't be seeing my husband at all. PLUS, we've been asked to take her for the entire weekends that my mom and brother are gone.

This is a child that will be gone at school and after-school care all day. I only have to make her breakfast in the morning and help her get dressed, then possibly make her dinner and entertain her for a couple evenings. And a weekend shouldn't be that big of a deal, right?

I love and adore my niece, I cannot say that enough, and she's a great kid. But oh my god do I resent that we're going to have to spend the entire weekends entertaining her. Sure she'll stay at our house, but what about spending time with our friends? I might try and plan a girlie afternoon with my girlfirneds, but out normal routine will be smashed and destroyed, and I'm not entirely ok with it. I can't help it. I want my weekend with my husband and our friends. I realize as I try figuring out how to fit my niece into the way I enjoy my life, that having to do this full-time is not the life I want.

I'm happy to fill in because my mom never gets a break, and I truly believe this surgery has the potential to change my brother's life. It's incredibly important, so I'm willing to help out. I'm going to get irritated, and it's probably going to drive me a little nuts. This is an important thing for me to do, and I'm not going into it entirely negatively. I have a feeling that this is going to be a crucial lesson and affirming my life choice.

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