Stephanie’s Part 2 of Parenting and RA.
Mary Poppins arrived in our family in just the nick of time in January. Her support and extensive experience have meant a wonderful change for my son and for me.
Thinking back to my son's birth the nurses definitely all got to know my little force of nature during our hospital stay and didn't hesitate to tell me, "Er hat VIEL Charakter!" (translation: He's got REAL character!) Should I feel proud or terrified was all that kept running through my mind. Despite the notion of Superman who is eternally charming and shows genuine goodwill and concern for others, sometimes I feel like I live with his arch nemesis, Lex Luthor, now even 3 years on!
I, of course, love my son, but after 3 years I can feel my body and mind have been tested and tried simply because he's intense and willful. It is tempered by his huge capacity to love and giggle, thankfully. No amount of preparing myself for the rigors of motherhood could have prepared me for this intense experience. I'm reassured by any and everyone that he will be a real survivor in life and will forge his path if he shows such strength and determination now. Hm-mmm. Yes, ok, I can only hope that too. However, we need to get through these early years hopefully without so many gray hairs and frazzled nerves!! Terrible Twos anyone?!
So where is Mary Poppins in all of this?
Well, for the sake that we have no family close by and my husband's work means he's away 12 hours a day at least and has business trips usually every week, we knew from the onset that I/we would need extra hands-on support. This was especially true once the RA came back after my pregnancy. It was gradual but after being off any biologics for nearly a year and a half by then, my pain and affected joints were unbelievable.
I've had a few part-time nannies over the years but our new one is quite simply amazing. She's our Swiss Mary Poppins - not in the Julie Andrews way. No, in her own smiling and reassuring way. She's very sporty, fun, extremely patient and yet firm with my son. Her Golden Retriever has given my son an additional learning avenue, intrigue, and calm because he adores dogs! My son absolutely needs boundaries set no matter his will or amount of Kryptonite that can get thrown around. It's a formidable task for even the bravest of experienced caregivers. Our nanny is an early childhood specialist and ran a "forest kindergarten" for 10 years. These outdoor schools are extremely popular here in the land of forests and the Alps and now seeing her influence on him I think the forest is his ideal playground! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_kindergarten.
Her support and extensive experience have meant a wonderful change for my son and for me and couldn't have come at a better time. (We had to change his routine and removed him from his preschool in December which meant for a very trying end to 2012 and lead up to the holidays.)
She gets him outside no matter rain or snow or freezing temps. They explore the forests up behind our place and he can really be a kid - not "stuck" within the preschool's four walls. He has blossomed in these past three weeks and the collage in the middle of my dining table is testament to their discoveries and fun outings!
The fact she could begin so quickly meant the world to me. It was honestly the most precious Christmas gift I received - the gift of time and peace. One needs a break and rest from the continuum that is parenting (with RA) not forgetting above all that your child should be loved, nurtured and stimulated in a fun and loving way. He indeed needs constant stimulation and interaction and sometimes it's just above my physical capabilities with pain setbacks and flu bugs. He is mastering three languages throughout his daily life so watching him switch between them is simply amazing. He's got so much potential that I just marvel at what this superhero will turn out to be one day.
So, Superman met Mary Poppins... and they went off happily into the forest. And I can now breathe much easier. Sigh! Since her arrival he now spontaneously tells me, "I love you, Mommy." That never happened after a stressful day fetching him from daycare. He showed us in his way what he really needed and indirectly us too. Who wouldn't love to hear that after a rough (pain-ridden) day?!