Remember my friends Tracey and Morgan? On July 17, it was their 16th wedding anniversary. What can you give a couple for their anniversary that they’d truly want and appreciate? When the couple in question have two babies, the answer is relatively simple – time to themselves!
I have said many times that I need to have projects to occupy me so that I do not “get in trouble”. Volunteering for baby duty was one of those “how hard could it be?”, impulsive, “I have the time” quick decisions that inevitably impact the entire household. (My husband and son spent a lot of time together doing errands that day so they could avoid the baby onslaught as much as possible, although my husband, bless his heart, drove with me back and forth to pick up the boys and drop them off.)
I’ve written about Tracey, Owen, and Emmett before. Tracey is pretty awesome and I knew that I could not replicate what she does daily on my own. Turns out that it takes three grown adults with the experience of raising a total of seven children to maturity under their belts to handle the task Tracey does on her own. This math fact seems elementary but is profound: two is much bigger than one!
I won’t lie to you. Even with my mother, my mother-in-law, and me working together, it wasn’t easy. Owen and Emmett are now 11 months old. They like the comfort and routine of their own house and I brought them over to my place on July 18, a location where they’ve never been before. We had lots of supplies and resources but not some of their bulkier items (like the double stroller or high chairs) that they really like. Owen slept for just 30 minutes in the morning instead of his regular 2 hour nap. Emmett slept longer than usual (90 minutes instead of 30) but that was because he did it on me. I took photos so Tracey would have evidence that they were being treated well and that it wasn’t an all-day crying session.
In the movie “Lethal Weapon”, Danny Glover’s tag line is “I’m getting too old for this s**t!” When I last wrote about Tracey and her youngest sons, I added a couple of nuggets of wisdom from Tracey. This time, I will add my observations and tie them to school.
1) Taking care of babies requires people with energy (and/or youthful vigor)
Danny Glover was right! I am getting too old to run after babies! I don’t know how Tracey does it day after day. I’m not saying that you have to be in your 20s to have a baby, or that a veteran teacher cannot be placed in a kindergarten class, but the stamina that comes with youth helps a lot. The day after the twins were over, I ached in places I didn’t even know I used. It’s physically demanding!
2) More hands make lighter work. (Especially ones who want to be there!)
I was grateful to my mother and mother-in-law for coming over and helping out. Emmett was a bit more clingy and distraught than his brother, so it was a relief to know that Owen was being attended to by two happy-to-be-there ladies while I soothed Emmett. (Emmett is usually the one who crawls all over the place but he was most content when I was carrying him. This wouldn’t have been possible if I was alone.) When teachers have capable and eager assistants in the classroom (and that can even include the students themselves), it makes things go so much more smoothly.
3) When in doubt, improvise!
The boys like to fall asleep while watching the YouTube channel Little Baby Bum (here’s a sample of what it’s like). Problem is, I don’t know how to wire my TV to the Internet to show YouTube videos! When my children were little, we used to watch Baby Einstein and we still have them – on VHS tapes in the garage. For some reason (probably the stress of trying to do it right away with crying babies present), I couldn’t get the TV to work and turn to a toddler-friendly station – I could only figure out the DVD player. I was reduced to putting on Teen Titans Go because I knew that the boys were used to watching it when their older brother got control of the screen. Ideal? No, but when Plan A fails and Plan B tanks, doing whatever works that does no damage is fine. If there ever is a next time, I’ll try and figure out in advance how to work the TV properly.
4) Support can come in many different ways.
Point #2 is true, but there are other ways to help, and that even includes online cheerleading. (It doesn’t replace someone actually being there to give some respite, but it’s something.) I bet when Lisa Noble sent her tweet that said “There is genius in you. There is splendor. Wonder. Gifts beyond gifts” that she didn’t expect my reply.
That kind of timely encouragement (and humour from someone equally as far away that I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like, Andrew Forgrave) was the perfect “you are not alone” pick-me-up. What this means for teachers is to grow their PLN beyond their school walls so you can be surrounded by positivity.
I’m not sure how to end this blog post. Conclusions are so much harder to write than introductions. I think Tracey and Morgan had a wonderful anniversary but were also still happy to have all their children back in one piece (Morgan’s parents took their eldest to the Aquarium for the day so that Morgan and Tracey could have the day to leisurely enjoy a movie and lunch.) Will I do it again? Maybe – as long as I have help. I know several baby-lovin’ teachers who would jump at the chance to cuddle and pamper a baby – or two.