Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I Worked, Part 5: Surprise Twins & Mayhem at Home

Part 1 here, Part 2 herePart 3 here, Part 4 here

When we left off last time, I was getting ready to start teaching again after about 9 months off, one class every other day with almost 70 students...


Middle school girls.

I love them, actually.  Their drama is SO important to them, but for the most part it's not the *real* depressing drama that older high school girls have, so things stay a little more lighthearted.  And I had a really great group that first year back - talented singers, receptive to my teaching style, nobody threatened to kill my baby or anything...

The teaching part of that year was fabulous!  It was an awesome way for me to get out of the house a few times a week and it really energized me.  Finding a good babysitter was tough because the hours were so erratic, but I felt like I had the best of both worlds, for the most part.  I could still have playdates and see all my mom friends, I even kept hosting a bi-weekly storytime/playdate that worked with my schedule.  My coworkers were awesome and the little break I got from the kids was mostly during naptime, so I didn't feel like they really missed me too much.


We still had the time and freedom to GO places and DO things!
We decided to try for baby #3 once my fertility returned in the new year, and were pregnant soon afterwards.  The timing worked out nicely - I'd have a baby right after our winter concert and come back to work in time for the second semester.  It still wasn't really a choice to be working - we needed the insurance, even though most of my salary went towards childcare.  But I wanted to be working because it felt like such a good balance at that point.

Easter 2012 - right after we found out we were having another baby!
I closed out a successful school year and found myself slated to teach a more regular schedule the next year, because my enrollment was up and we were adding a piano & guitar class that I'd be teaching.  I thought it might be nice to have a set starting time every day and that teaching every day would make it easier to find a good babysitter (we had been through three the year before, which was too many...  Two of them were great, though!).

Cecilia and John Paul visiting my classroom

The theoretical plan was for me to keep working until we had 4 or 5 kids, at which point Andrew would hopefully be making enough money that we could actually afford the cost to insure all of us.  But everything kind of got thrown for a loop when we found out baby #3 was actually twins...  Now my maternity leave would certainly have to start earlier, I wouldn't be able to make it to my December due date, and going back to work was going to be a LOT more complicated.

A week or two before the twins were born

I finally managed to find a long-term substitute who could teach music, and almost made it to my self-imposed maternity leave before I went into labor - luckily my amazing colleagues covered my classes for the two days before my substitute could start.


A rare moment captured of them sleeping while NOT physically attached to me

Mostly they finished nursing and had to sleep right against my belly, usually holding hands, and they'd wake up screaming if I put them down.

Maternity leave was rough, obviously, because twins are hard.  So I was REALLY ready to go back to work and have a little break.  It was stressful being at home and I hadn't adjusted to being the only one caring for 4 kids under the age of 4.



Especially nursing the twins nonstop, I needed to be not in the house with them all day long.  Going back to work would be a welcome break!

A VERY rare moment, in which I wasn't holding any children

But of course, I got back to work and the stress was still there - my students HATED the long-term sub.  And to top it all off, I returned right when they were signing up for next year's classes, so I lost a ton of good students for the next year because they had such a bad experience with my substitute.  The new babysitter (the old one decided to go back to school) was the only one we could find, but she couldn't seem to grasp the concept of cleaning ANYTHING up, or putting away dishes, or really doing anything except keeping the kids alive.  I figured that was about all we could ask for because life was so nuts, and so almost every waking minute Andrew and I were home, we were cooking, cleaning, catching up on copious amounts of laundry...  And we decided to move to a house with more than 2 bedrooms, a wonderful thing but MORE stress.

It's amazing how much mess accumulates when nobody's dealing with it during the day...

Not to mention the fact that there was no time for any playdates anymore, since all my friends were stay-at-home moms whose kids were all napping by the time I got home every afternoon.  We couldn't leave the house to go anywhere because the twins needed to nurse ALL THE TIME still, and John Paul and Cecilia couldn't be trusted to fend for themselves outside of our bubble.  Oh, and the sleep deprivation...  There was no napping, because I was out of the house when the kids were napping and Andrew and I were up late every night trying desperately to do all the necessary chores.

So cute, and so terrifying...  As you can see, this is mid-move!

The break from the kids to go to work was great, but things were deteriorating at home.  And I was terrified that there was no way I could handle this all by myself.  I jumped at the chance to sign a contract for the next year, working my schedule so that I didn't have to be away from the kids for as long (it had been only 5 or 6 hours at a time, but it felt like too much), all the while knowing that either this year or the next year was going to be it for me - once we had baby #5 there was no way I could outsource child rearing to a babysitter...  We'd have to find a way for me to stay home, somehow!

But for now I was just worried about surviving the summer, and taking care of all 4 kids all by myself, all day long...

Read Part VI here
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