By Rachel Hoeing

My children are currently 14 and 16. It’s been a long, long time since we had babies in our home. But my sister has a one-year-old and an almost three-year-old. (It makes me tired just telling you that.) Being the dutiful older sister, I have watched my niece and nephew on numerous occasions, and just recently had the one-year-old for a four day stint.

Holy Toledo. There is a reason God created menopause and it’s because after a certain age you cannot handle raising these little creatures any more. Yours truly isn’t quite to that point in my womanhood, but I can say with 100% certainty that I was more tired after those four days than I was after I did my first triathlon.

So back to my four day babysitting stint … my niece is the sweetest thing on the face of the earth, and she is truly an angel. She rarely cries, she goes to sleep fairly easily, and she always has a happy demeanor. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that taking care of her is absolutely exhausting!!

So many things that I had forgotten about …

Everything take 1000 times longer than it needs to!

Trying to get out the door, eating a meal, getting dressed, going to bed, running to Target, buckling them in the *&*# carseat … why is everything an hour-long production? Now I remember why I never got anything accomplished when my kids were little.

How much fun it is to feed a baby or toddler a meal …

Ummm, not fun at all.

Yesterday she loved peas, today she hates them. Blueberries are smushed into the crevices of my table. Sweet potatoes are in her hair. That highchair is disgusting.

When they fake you out … you’re doing the choo-choo train with the spoonful of oatmeal, you say open the tunnel, they are smiling and laughing, you get a millimeter away from their mouth and they slap their lips closed.

When they happily eat a spoonful of yogurt and then the second spoonful gets the strong-arm push as they turn their head in disgust and the yogurt ends up on the wall.

Bits of Cheerios floating in the sippy cup of water.

And the mess under the table … wow. My dog enjoyed more people food in those four days than he has since we got him.

The amount of baby wipes you go through…

I thought my sister left us enough baby wipes to last a week, but I ran out in no time! Boogers … baby wipe. Changing diapers … baby wipe. After eating … baby wipe. Cleaning the car seat … baby wipe. Dog licked the stacking cup toys … baby wipe. After running errands … baby wipe.

And please don’t yell at me for being wasteful and not eco-friendly. It was only four days, and I’m apparently an old geezer who can’t handle babies anymore.

Everything revolves around naps.

I had forgotten the joy of a nap. It could be 10 minutes of peace for the adult, or it could be an hour, maybe two if we’re lucky! But you never want to screw up that peaceful time by skipping the child’s nap. Not only will you miss your own downtime, but that little one is sure to lose her &^%& at some point later in the day as a result. So, naps should be high priority!

One morning I was killing it as the makeshift mom. We were unfortunately up at the crack of dawn, but she had eaten breakfast, the house was tidy, she was dressed, dog was walked, and I was pretty darn proud of myself. I thought through the day and realized that if I could get her down for her morning nap at 8:30am, I could make it to my exercise class at 9:30am. Well, every other day that week she was taking 30 minute morning naps. Not that day. As 9:30am inched closer and closer I realized my goal of the morning was going to fall short. I finally changed out of my workout clothes and started to get some work done instead. Well, you guessed it … that little stinker woke up at 9:35am!

Sigh. The things we give up for those we love!

They get into everything!

We had enough toys in our den for a child care facility, but the second I tried to change the laundry, go to the bathroom, whatever … my niece was turning the TV on with the remote, ripping my magazines to shreds, finding the half-full glass of soda my son left on the end table, and grabbing picture frames. She didn’t want the toys. She wanted everything else!

And the stairs … Good Lord the stairs … why are they a magnet to these little ones?

Those sweet big eyes that look up at you …

Of all the nuances of having a baby or toddler in the house, every second of it is worth it when you hold them in your arms at the end of a long day. You feed them, or rock them to sleep, and they look up at you with those enormous, naive, vulnerable, innocent eyes. You realize that this amazing little bundle of craziness, sweetness and joy is dependent on you for everything and it warms your heart.

At that moment you are their everything and they are yours, and it is all worth it.


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