Things really weren’t going well at the three/four month mark with Michael. I was physically and emotionally running on empty, literally stuck to a baby who wouldn’t nap well and too inexperienced to know how to manage the situation. Ralph and I were fighting more than normal. We were sleep deprived, stressed and overwhelmed. He kept bringing up the possibility – nay, the necessity – of having a helper join us, and I kept hemming and hawing about it, even as everything started to fray and unravel.
Apart from the financial/logistical concerns and the fact that there would be a stranger in our apartment, I was hesitant because getting a helper meant that I’d failed. That I was doing such a crummy job of being a stay-at-home-mother that I actually needed someone to help me out every day. How ridiculous! My own mother had raised us all by herself! What about all the moms who don’t have help? What about the single moms? What about the single moms with twins??? Urgh, I sucked.
Then one day I found myself wandering about the house with my shirt undone, boob hanging out, sobbing hysterically as Michael writhed in my arms. Utterly shattered. And it became abundantly clear to myself that I was fooling nobody. I needed help. I needed help yesterday. I needed help help hellllp. Pride be damned. We were going to get some help.
And boy, did we.
Lyn could read Michael accurately from the very first few minutes of my interview with her, possessing that easy intuition that comes from a wealth of experience. “He’s sleepy,” she said with a warm smile, as Michael stared at her balefully from the confines of his pram. She was right – he was waiting for his nap, and in my own inexperience with anyone else’s child other than my own, I was in awe of anybody who could read mine. How did she know? Later on, while I was busy signing papers at the desk, she hung out with him and rocked his pram back and forth as he stirred sleepily during his transition, knowing exactly what he needed. Just watching someone else step in to care for my baby made me want to sink to the floor in relief. And take a nap. Instead, I whipped out my phone and texted my husband: We’ve found our angel. Guess what she’s doing at this very moment? She’s rocking the pram. How does she know that he needs to be rocked??? Hooray hooray hooray!
And that’s how it’s felt like ever since. A never ending, resounding hooray. We’re two adults to one big, beautiful child. We are a hyper efficient tag team. A few days after she joined us, I bought her two tee shirts from Uniqlo which had a large M on the front, without thinking anything of it. Weeks later, I realized: Team M. I needed to get a few more of those tee shirts.
It’s been four months, almost, and Ralph and I still can’t get over how incredibly blessed we are to have Lyn with us. Would we have survived without her? Yes. But there is just no comparison between what our family looked like then, and what it looks like now. Does this all feel embarrassingly indulgent? Yes. But only if I’m afraid of what it looks like. At my core, I am only grateful that we found each other. Humbled. Glad. In awe.
Where I was once afraid of having a stranger live with us, I am now afraid of the day that she will leave us. Where I was once afraid that Michael would love her too much, I now call her Michael’s second “mother”, without wincing. The quotation marks will always remain because I am his mother, and I am careful to guard that privilege. But I’m less afraid now to recognize the immense value that Lyn brings to his life. He thrives, under her love and care. She sings him songs that I don’t know, and makes him giggle with sounds that I don’t think to make. Moments unlock. She gently takes him from me when my arms feel like they cannot hold on any longer.
His mouth opens large with joy when he sees her, and I am comforted that he knows that one other person loves him. Every night, this is his whispered lullaby as I put him down to sleep: “Who loves you? Mama loves you, Papa loves you, Auntie Lyn loves you…” and I go down the list, carefully knitting a net of love that I hope will sustain him through the length of the night. We love you we love you we love you.