Adventures in Babysitting


One of the few things I know for certain that I want for myself is children. Having RA has thrown a wrench into that plan.  I still want them but have a ton of doubts and fears.

Keep in mind, I am a closet fan of all the “super sized” family shows.  It’s like watching a train wreck. I DO NOT want 20 kids.  OH HELL NO.  Unless I can have a TLC show titled “ 20 Kids By 20 Different Daddies.”  That sounds like a lot of fun to shoot! Also, there will be no octo-AJ. Yikes.

My fears are compounded by the fact that of my close friends, one has triplets and SIX have twins.  And yes, they have over-shared on what that was like, leaving me with only one logical conclusion: we were seriously evil Satan spawn when we were younger and this is God’s sense of humor.  For the record, I want no more than two.  In witnessing my friends and their husbands wrangle 3+ kiddos, I’ve noticed that it’s a bad, bad thing to be outnumbered.  So yeah, two would be the limit and I’d be just fine with one.

But I have some pretty serious reservations; do I trust my body to safely grow babies? Um, not right now.  And how would I feel if I had children who someday were diagnosed with RA?  Um, devastated.  I’m not sold on the fact that I will ever have to have biological children. And I’m ok with that.  There are a lot of children that need families.

But no matter how I get them (birth, adoption, Target), I also have reservations about my ability to take care of them.

Let’s face it.  I don’t particularly know how to interact with children.  I haven’t been around them extensively since high school when I worked the church nursery to get out of having to go to services.  And even then, I preferred the babies, I preferred them sleeping, and I didn’t do diapers. I dislike strange smells, things that are dirty and the sound of crying is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Just make it stop!

Besides brief interactions with kiddos of friends,  I haven’t been around them much since my RA diagnosis and am scared that I won’t be able to lift, hold, and everything else you need to do to take care of them.

But when my friend asked me to babysit this weekend, I couldn’t find a reason not to.  Besides, her boys are cute as can be, fairly well behaved around me AND it was early on a Sunday morning so surely they would be asleep the whole time, right?  (Mommy friends…it’s ok to laugh.)

I arrived at my friends house a few minutes before 9 to get instructions.  There was an unusual sound echoing through the house when I walked in: an 18 month old chatting.  Ok, scratch off not awake.  She handed the also awake 4 month old to me and asked the 18 month old to show me where his toys were so she could make a clean getaway.  I was led into the next room and all went well for the next 3 minutes until the 18 month old realized that mama was gone.

I’ve heard people talk about kids having complete meltdowns but have never witnessed it in person.  I swear to God, the kid turned purple, started screaming, and threw himself down on the floor with arms and legs everywhere.  Oh my God, it sounded just like the Exorcism of Emily Rose.  I stood there for a moment, holding the baby, with wide eyes and all I could think was “BIRTH CONTROL, BIRTH CONTROL, BIRTH CONTROL.”

I was afraid he was going to hurt himself so I eased myself down onto the ground to sit next to him while maneuvering the baby to my other side so that he wouldn’t get kicked.  Y’all, that took coordination I didn’t know I had!  Rickety knees, sprained ankle and all! But it didn’t hurt.

I let him cry for a minute, patting his back, and then asked him if he wanted to sit in my lap and let me read him a story. Because yeah, that’s the only trick in my toolbox. I had no idea what he liked or was comforted by: my head had stopped screaming BIRTH CONTROL and was now screaming REDIRECT, REDIRECT, REDIRECT.

As soon as I asked him that, he launched himself onto me so hard that it almost knocked me over.  He death gripped my neck, sobbing, and in the process, elbowed his baby brother in the face. So now baby brother is howling too.

So, let me reiterate the scenario for you.  Girl with RA who doesn’t have much experience with kids and is fearful of her physical ability to handle kids accepts what she perceives is an easy babysitting job.  She is now pinned to the floor against a wall with two screaming babies. Screaming directly into her ears. Also, I may or may not have had a slight hangover.  (BABYSITTER OF THE YEAR!)

I think this is what my mother may call “payback.”

In the end, we pulled it together.  While both boys were crying on my shoulder and I was pinned against the wall, I was able to snag some sort of light up musical toy with my feet.  I maneuvered it until I could grab it with my hands and started playing with it myself while narrating what I was doing to Big Brother.  Big Brother eventually became interested in the toy and let go of me enough that I could move.  Holding tiny Little Brother, I easily stood up and moved to a chair.  When my friend got home, she was greeted by both Little Brother and Big Brother sound asleep in my lap.

In all honesty, I had a blast.  Little Brother fought going to sleep so hard that he’d sleep for a second, wake up and look at me bleary eyed, and then slump over again on my shoulder,  It was hilarious!  Big Brother kept bringing ME toys to play with and when he finally crawled into my lap to sleep with Little Brother, I knew that if I had to get up holding them both, I could. Easily.  Without pain.

That was an important realization for me.

Since babysitting, I have made an addendum to my two kids rule: they must be at least 4 years apart.  Because there is no way I could do that for more than a couple of hours.

3 responses »

  1. What a really fun, well written post! I am still laughing. As the mother of three sons I can tell you that it does get easier with each successive child! Take care. Nan

  2. You had me laughing at those visuals! When the time comes you will do it, you just will. Moms, brand new moms, and experienced moms just kick it into gear and we manage. It is all worth it too.

    Have a good week!

  3. I have RA and am so glad I had a child (and now two wonderful grandchildren). I hope you feel able to as well. You wrote something that put me in mind of my youngest grandchild (now 4),

    “I’ve heard people talk about kids having complete meltdowns but have never witnessed it in person. I swear to God, the kid turned purple, started screaming, and threw himself down on the floor with arms and legs everywhere.”

    So glad sh outgrew that one!

    – David

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