It appears that starting next Wednesday, I'm going to be spending the following three weeks not "helping" take care of my niece, but living there and basically playing mommy for three weeks. And while I adore my niece and I agreed to do this because it's important for her and my family, I'm furious.
It was sold to me like this: while my mom and brother are in New Jersey for him to have surgery, my grandma and I will tagteam it and they'll just need me to "help out". Of course I said "sure!" This is a big deal that could mean a life change for my brother, which changes my niece's life and my mother's. How great is that? Well, we met with my grandma, and apparently she's the one who's going to be "helping out".
I realized as we sat at the table with my grandma how disinterested she was in doing this. I brought up a couple events that I am not willing to reschedule (A's stepsister's baby shower, the Depeche Mode concert, and Stromkern in Milwaukee), which, after some convincing, she agreed to. My dad is completely unwilling to help with ANYTHING, and the TWO days where he has to pick her up from school are a travesty, apparently. Even as we went round and round, my aunt Karen never offered her babysitting services once.
So here it is. I have to give up my life for three weeks because, as expected, no one is willing to help. Instead of spending 2-3 nights a week in Kenosha, with someone else picking up the rest, I'm spending 7 days a week in Kenosha, and if I want to see A he has to come and stay the night with me, leaving him with a nearly 2-hour commute in the morning. Oh, wait, we have one weekend in Chicago -- with my niece. I have to spend three weeks away from my husband, friends and home. When i need to go into a gig I'll be spending 4-5 hours in transit each day, with my grandmother reluctantly picking her up from school on those days.
I didn't have a problem agreeing to a couple days a week, but 24/7 is a bit much. It isn't even so much that I AM staying 24/7, but that I feel tricked. Tricked or betrayed. I told my mom initially that I can take her during the week OR for a weekend, and here I am now doing both. Three weeks is a LOT of time, and it's a long time to spend away from my home and my husband. Oh, he can stay in Kenosha! Yeah, so we can spend some quality time with my DAD. Because he's already made it clear that if he's going to spend any time with her one-on-one, it won't be without whining and a fight, and that's even if all he has to do is exist in the house while she's asleep. Plus, with all this, I'm going to be babysitting my dad too. I just hope and PRAY he doesn't think he can come home and work from home all day when I'm trying to work.
I'm lucky right now that I'm on this gig where I only have to go into the office one day a week (that was fun to negotiate with grandma *sigh*) andI can work from home. AND, it's on a PC, so I can install the software on my dad's computer. But as soon as she comes home from school she's going to be fighting for my attention, which means I'll have to do the rest of my work after her bedtime. She requires a lot of attention anyway, and she's surely going to be feeling really needy with her daddy and grandma away for three weeks. This is going to be really rough on her, without a doubt. She already thinks that "maybe we can go see daddy" sometime during the three weeks.
I know she needs me to do this, and that's why I'm doing it -- it's worth it for her. I just need to figure out how to do it without resenting the process. Without being angry with my mom for taking me away from my husband, my house, my life. I have the utmost respect for moms -- I'm struggling like hell to figure out how to work a fairly self-sufficient, well-behaved 7-year-old into my life for only three weeks, wondering how I'm going to manage getting up at 6:00 to get her ready for school at 7, being able to pick her up and entertain her for the afternoon, make dinner for her, then work late to make up for the time. Even if A was around, how would we have time for each other? If I'm waking up at 6 am, I won't be getting enough sleep unless I go to bed at 9, 10. If she goes to bed at 8:30 or 9, where is there time for relationships? If I didn't understand before how moms and parents survive children, I really don't understand now. It seems just impossible.
I've known for awhile that children can't fit into my lifestyle and that the sacrifices of having kids aren't enough return on investment. As I consider how this three week period -- ONLY THREE WEEKS -- will affect my life and relationship, I'm miserable. We wanted to see Spamalot while it's in town, but now we'll probably miss it because its sold out for the final weekend, the only weekend we'd be able to go now because I'll have her. I won't get to spend any time with friends, and forget about gaming Saturdays, dinner-and-a-movie Thursdays, date nights.
I understand that the sacrifices are worth it when you see your children, and that you love them completely. I don't question that at all. It's just one of those things… I can't remember where I heard the analogy, but it's true. I look at it and I think "I can't imagine it being worth it". A child is not like a pint of ice cream you can toss out or pass on to someone else if you don't like the flavor. Is it really worth trying and seeing if it really is different with my own kids? I love her as much as if she were my own. After this little 3-week experiment, my guess is the answer will be a resounding NOOOOOOO!!