7:30 PM. The babysitter showed up right on time. My Guy had just tucked the girls in bed, but they weren’t asleep. We chose to put them in separate rooms tonight so they wouldn’t have a giggle-chat fest in their room, throwing the new sitter off, making her wonder, on her first encounter with them, if the occasional high-pitched cackle or the fussing because one sister was trying to disturb the other was normal.
It’s all normal. But she didn’t know that. And it was too soon to acquaint her with the antics of my boisterous girls. I’d like her to come back, so I was all about making it easier for the sitter.
After introductions - her name was Mary - we brought her to the girls so they could meet her. I was a little hesitant initially, wondering if Thumper, who was always blissfully asleep before we left for all of our date nights previously, would react negatively to an unfamiliar face. But she’s experienced a few sitters during the day; perhaps this wouldn’t faze her.
My Guy first walked Mary into Thumper’s room. It was shrouded in darkness except for the glowing blue night light from the corner closest to her crib. Our little 23-month-old sat up, curious about the stranger. He then picked her up and said, “Hey, Thumper, this is Mary.”
But before he could continue, she said in a quiet voice, “Hi Mayee” and, to everyone’s surprise, puckered her lips and leaned in for a kiss, which Mary reciprocated.
“She’s your babysitter tonight,” My Guy explained. “Mommy and daddy are going out, and she’ll be here to take care of you, okay?”
“Otay,” said the little love.
After a few more exchanges, Thumper hugged her daddy goodbye and bid them both goodnight before they closed the door behind them.
One down. One more to go.
With Little Miss, it was more of the same. Minus the kiss. Our four-year-old, who’s seasoned at this whole babysitter business, greeted Mary politely before snuggling in for the rest of the night, and called out to her daddy, “See you in the morning!”
Mary uttered her delight at their warm reception of her. I smiled. I was surprised myself, but, at the same time, I wasn’t.
In the car, on the way to our night of debauchery - well, I suppose it depends on how you define that; ours involved poussin, sweetbreads, snails, mussels, and ale - I couldn’t help but feel incredibly proud, not just of my girls, but of us, as parents.
All these years of worrying and fretting, decisions and indecisions, wondering and hoping, agreeing and disagreeing - it felt like all of that arrived at this moment to tell us that yes, this is what we wanted. And, holy shit, this is what we have!
Beautiful, wonderful little girls who say goodnight when it’s time to sleep, and let us turn out the lights and walk away. Who are polite and unafraid when meeting a stranger. Who trust us to leave them in good hands. Who are comfortable with the idea of us leaving, knowing we will come back. (Because we always do.) Who allow us the time and the ability to enjoy our relationship with each other apart from them, and the space to be who we need to be individually as well. (Because those are important too.)
Who know that, in the end, it’s all about them.
Yes, even the part about making ourselves happy as a couple, and as a person. That’s about them too, because when it feels like we are each nurtured, in our own way, in this family, we have so much more to give to others, to each other, in return.
As any parent, we work hard to “get it right”, but no matter what, there are no guarantees. We constantly battle our own doubts and insecurities - is this the right thing to do? will they be okay? what if it’s the wrong decision? - and we hope that, in the end, something works.
And right now, something is working. Something feels right.
When we walked in through our door after midnight, Mary reported that she spent her time watching “The Game of Thrones” with no interruptions while the girls slumbered soundly. We had expected it, because once they were down, they rarely ever woke from sleep. Even then, I heaved a sigh of relief, as I do every time I hear that after an evening out.
That night, I also threw a wave of gratitude to the stars, feeling extremely lucky that we have it so easy as parents, but knowing, at the same time, that luck had little to do with it.
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If you’ve ever had an a-ha moment that made you feel like you’re doing something right as a parent (because goodness knows there are plenty of things that make us feel like we’re doing something wrong), please share. I’d love to hear it.