When we planned how to space our children, we agreed that three and a half years would be perfect for our family. Le petit would be well into his first year of nursery school, and I'd have my days free to take care of the new baby. School would last until four o'clock and extended day to seven, and we duly signed Le petit up for both. I figured my infant caretaking experience would be more or less the same as last time, at least until five or six in the afternoon. On Wednesdays, a day off from school in France, I'd have both kids, but I figured I could make it work with some pinch hitting from Grandma and Grandpa.
The best laid plans, eh?
Le petit wasn't entirely ready for school in September. We went ahead with half days, and crossed our fingers that the potty and discipline issues would straighten themselves out. They did, and Le petit loves school. In the meantime, however, Le petit has definitively given up his naps, and afternoons at school are only lunch and naptime. The teachers have a lot of kids on their hands, and one who won't nap is problematic, to say the least.
I can only imagine, too, how Le petit would react to suddenly being signed up for full days, essentially kicked out of the house upon the arrival of his little sister.
So here I am, a newborn and a three-and-a-half-year-old on my hands from 11:30 to 6 on weekdays, and from 9:30 to 6 on Wednesdays. Paris is gripped by a cold spell, and at any rate, I don't dare go out on my own with both kids just yet, because what on earth do I do if a sudden tantrum hits and I need to wrangle (gently and respectfully) the preschooler? Le petit has decided that now that Mommy is back from the hospital has a lap again to sit in, he no longer wants to spend any time at Grandma's house. I go to bed as soon as La Petite is nursed down for the night in order to take advantage of her first, longest sleep stretch and thus hold onto the shreds of my sanity.
Did I mention I also have the worst cold in recent memory?
At first, I was on this super mom trip. I wouldn't use TV as a crutch. I'd engage Le petit in educational activities. His English would improve. We'd bond. That lasted one day last week, Thursday. By the end of the day, when my husband came home, I was in tears in front of Elmo on sesamestreet.com, Le petit beside me ordering me to click the mouse, La petit nursing on my lap. My mom had just called and left a message, and I had neither the strength nor the mobility to get up and answer the phone.
Now I'm using TV, and planning on ordering more Sesame Street videos. They'll be in English, and thus I console myself.
Today was hard again. I'm living a contradiction: on the one hand, I'm not attempting anything that moms everywhere haven't done before me. On the other hand, I know that this will be hard. Exhausting. Going back to work in nine months may seem like a huge break (and again, I'm counting my blessings to have that kind of parental leave). I think there will inevitably be huge rewards, bonding, and understanding if I make it, but can I really do it? Well? At all? I'm lucky that La Petite is relatively low-key at the moment, and Le Petit relatively cooperative, but still, I may not be up to it all.
Gotta go. Elmo is over, and La petite is waking up. Here we go again.