Yesterday was rough. I am traveling for the first time in months, and none of our regular sitters were available this weekend. I was pinched and had to go with someone new.
This woman has spent the week driving me nuts.
We talked, we negotiated a 4 day/3 night job, I promised to follow up with an email outline and texts.
I thought it was all good. Until this cuckoo bird called me yesterday, saying she had not received any of my communications and that because I apparently hadn’t sent anything, I had failed to confirm.
Oh, and her rate was her “live in” nanny rate—basically I’m paying her like Hope is an infant, needing 24 hour care, which roughly came to about $2K
Say what now?
She said, well what if Hope get sick at school and needs me to pick her up? Ok, right, but 1) we have a contact for that, 2) Hope would rather shave her head than go home from school sick and miss seeing her crush in gym class–the last class of the day and 3) unless she is projectile vomiting, I’m going to tell that nurse to put some ‘Tussin on it and send her behind back to class.
Lady, you have got to be kidding me. I cannot.
So, we renegotiate because clearly she did not understand my needs. I resend the email and text messages.
I think we’re cool.
3:34am, in all CAPS: MISS ABM, MY INTERNET HAS BEEN OUT FOR DAYS BUT NOW I GET YOUR EMAILS. I WILL BE THERE. I UNDERSTAND. THANK YOU.
Um, ok. Yes, in all caps. She yelled at me in the middle of the night.
Sooooo, you accused me of not sending emails, but you weren’t able to access the internet. Yeah, this is just peachy.
At 9am, I have a conference call with the new tutor, while I’m out getting some exercise. Never mind that I think I’m going to do three loads of laundry and I haven’t started packing and my flight leaves at 1:10pm.
10am, sitter calls again because there is a discrepancy between the time I originally requested with the sitter service and the time I asked her to come.
OMG. I calmly tell her that the time I have told her, texted her, emailed her repeatedly is the only time she needs to be concerned with. Somehow she gets riled up, then I get riled up, then she threatens to quit, and I lose my ish since I’m supposed to be on a plane in a couple of hours. I start sobbing. She now claims to quit because I am crying; I just hang up because I’ve got to come up with a plan, and I don’t have another moment to spare with this bird.
She calls me back, I tear her a new one; she apologizes for like 20 minutes; I can’t get her to hang up.
Trip’s back on, though I’m stressed to the max and making a mental note that it’s time to hire someone privately.
She calls me and texts me twice more, including the text of a beautiful forest fire, that I guess is supposed to be inspirational…I guess.
She picks up Hope and I eventually get to Chicago.
I call Hope, and she politely tip toes around the fact that the new sitter is a cuckoo bird. I’d done everything I could all week to chat the sitter up and to seem optimistic about it, but come on…Hope is 14 if the sitter is a crackpot, then she’s going to know that the sitter is a crackpot.
Finding help and support can be so challenging for me. I don’t have much family around anymore. I haven’t been good about nurturing some of my pre-Hope friendships; life is so different now. Sometimes Hope’s anxiety behaviors clearly turned folks off, and I just took steps away. A great deal of my support comes from “staff.” The housekeeper every two weeks, the dog walker that helps to manage some of Yappy’s puppy energy and the sitter service that helps me be able to travel for work and have an evening or two a weekend a month to myself.
When I first started using the sitter service, things were great. I was able to find some really kind, patient and compassionate young women to help me look after Hope. I wouldn’t say they babied her, but she got a lot of attention and had fun when the sitters came. These days, those awesome women have moved on to other things and this has resulted in us being a bit rudderless without consistent sitters. And please know, we need help. No, make that *I* need help. It’s really crazy out here all by my lonesome. This single mom situation is serious!
I’m also finding that our needs have dramatically changed. For all the problems Hope and I may have, we are remarkably stable, these days. I think it time for us to look for someone who can meet our new needs, which means shuttling Hope to activities, making sure she goes to bed and takes care of the dog and brushes her teeth. I need someone responsible, but I don’t need a live-nanny who treats Hope like an infant or a toddler.
I think the most striking thing about this episode is how limited my options feel in securing help with child care so that I can continue to do things that are required for my job. Family isn’t really an option. Friends aren’t really an option. The sitter service is a great option, but a bit of a personality crap shoot.
This single mom feels pretty alone and kind of unsupported. Not that the people around me are mean or intentionally unsupportive, but there aren’t people close enough to me to ask that they watch Hope for 3 or 4 days without costing me a grip.
I don’t have a village to raise this kid and that sucks.
I guess there might be some kinda village but it is nothing like I envisioned what it would be or what I now know I need for my family.
No village = mo problems. At least it feels that way. It feels hard.
I can see how the lack of village affects me. I wonder how the lack of a village affects Hope. I dunno.
I’m beginning to be somewhat withdrawn like Hope socially, despite my constant efforts to stay connected. I feel the sting of rejection when a band parent just ignores me, or worse, turns her shoulder to signal my exclusion from participating in a conversation. I’m actually starting to wonder if band parents are talking about me—I have no idea what they’d say? Do I volunteer enough? How come I don’t always sit with the parents during games (because they ignore my very presence). I also feel the lonely when I talk to my sisters over many cities and several states. I feel it talking to my parents 100 miles away.
Single parenting a kid from a hard place is great, but my own journey has some really lonely spots. This feels like one.
Lonely parenting only adds to the stress of parenting in general. This is tough job; you really need people around you, to lean on, to sob with, to take deep breaths with. You need a village.
I’m hoping that I can try to build a suitable village, one that will give Hope and I the support we need.
September 27th, 2015 at 7:29 pm
It sure sounds like a stressful start to a work trip! I have heard many times that it takes a village to raise a child, and I so hope you are able to build some friendships with a few in real life people who get what you are going through. Any chance you could join an adoptive parent group, maybe you could meet a few parents like yourself there? Who knows maybe you’ll find someone who also needs a friend?
September 28th, 2015 at 4:19 pm
I am increasingly making friends with other APs. I’m hoping that those relationships will blossom with me and those parents and between Hope and their kids so that we can provide respite and help to each other. That feels like a long way off. I’m uber sensitive about layering my issues on theirs though, something I likely will have to get over since we all seem to understand that it comes with the territory. Thanks.
September 27th, 2015 at 8:26 pm
I’m feeling you on this one, and I have a supportive spouse who is awesome. I just feel utterly outnumbered and overwhelmed. I’ve had to pass on so many social functions because of this stage in my life. “Hey lets go on a date” translates into more hours of work for me to find a babysitter and then have to cancel because the girls get sick. It’s lonely for sure, but let’s just hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
September 28th, 2015 at 4:22 pm
You know, I remember starting my doctoral program and going through a period of being jealous of my married classmates because *clearly* they had someone to shoulder the burden at home. I quickly learned that I was mistaken–the grass isn’t always greener–everyone’s got challenges. I think that parenting can be lonely, whether you’re alone or with someone. There are just times when it is really just roughing it. Hang in there.
September 27th, 2015 at 11:08 pm
I’m walking in a lonely place tonight too, even though I have a spouse too. I wish I could find that village too. Older child adoptive parenting is HARD. Reading your blog in the past few weeks has helped me feel less alone, and I thank you for that. I hope tomorrow dawns a little brighter for you.
September 28th, 2015 at 4:26 pm
Oh wow, thank you Beth. ❤ Older child adoption is hard sometimes. Just so many challenges that I didn't anticipate and one's I had no idea even existed.
All that said, we can do this. We need villages, but we just have to keep plugging forward and sharpening those problem solving skills. Hang in there.
September 28th, 2015 at 2:28 pm
Have you tried websites like SitterCity or Care.com and the like?! I know we found a great sitter who is available all the time basically (even overnights), that are already fingerprinted and have through background checks done. That could really help in a pinch, and you can set up a few of them, so that if they have to break up the days (let’s say a 4-5 day trip for you) you know that they are people that Hope like and sees pretty frequently. The loneliness thing doesn’t just apply to single parents. I feel it lots of times too. We are very fortunate that we have such a great village, but the reality is that most of the time, it’s just us and our buttload of kids, and it’s hard. One of us is always tending to them, and the other is doing chores or checking homework or doing laundry, and it gets to be a lot sometimes. And then you don’t even realize it, but the loneliness creeps in and it all goes to shit. It’s not easy any way you slice it. Kids are hard, and the life of a parents is tough, but you know what!? When you look at all of the “rewards” that come from it, it all kind of changes your perspective. Just look at the fact that y’all are this “new family”…all the hard work it took to get there?! That’s definitely a plus to negate all the crappy feelings sometimes…hope things get better friend…
September 29th, 2015 at 9:33 pm
Actually I use a service. This is only the 2nd sitter that I’ve ever had a problem with, but it was epic. Now the service is working with me to see if we can reconstruct a nice little group of regulars since most of the folks who were sitting for us in the last year have moved on. It’s tough. The absence of a village is tough, but I recognize that even if you have one it’s tough.
I’m home now and trying to put things to rights. zzzzz
September 28th, 2015 at 7:44 pm
Hoping with you for a new community of support.
September 29th, 2015 at 9:33 pm
September 29th, 2015 at 2:20 am
I’m sorry you are going through this. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how lonely and alone single parenting can make one feel -especially if you don’t have family or close friends nearby. I hope you won’t have to go through this experience again.
Your story reminded me of mine, 3.5 years ago. The night before going cross-country for a very good friend’s funeral, I received an e-mail from my sitter saying she’d quit on Tuesday. I received the e-mail very late on Thursday night, had a 10 am flight and would return home mid-day Sunday. It was one of my lowest points. I was already reeling from the unexpected death of my good friend, a mother of 2 young kids, & then had to deal with this. And it was someone I tried to help out with her other job! Fortunately a previous young sitter was able to give me a week’s reprieve.
Despite being fiercely independent, as a parent I learned to accept the kindness of strangers because the few I thought would help often couldn’t.
On another note, I really enjoy your writing. You are an excellent writer! When I read you, I feel that I hear you speak. I hear the pauses, the intonation, I can see you shake your head in dismay or disgust, etc… It’s not easy to do, yet you do it so well.
October 5th, 2015 at 11:18 pm
I’ve been reading off and on…teaching, principal, and family of five kids take 99% of my time now! But I just wanted to say that if you’re blessed to find the right church, that has always been my village. Growing up that’s how it was, and now my church is my family as well. I know you were going through some struggles in finding a good one, but church is meant to be lived out all week long, not just a place to go on the weekend. If you can find some who believe and live this, your village will grow!
October 5th, 2015 at 11:23 pm
We are still looking, haven’t found the right one. I also admit to bring way more ambivalent about church right now. I’m hopeful that we find a page where we fit and where we can make a home.