Last Hurrah before Summer

Last week was Big Bear’s last week of classes for PreK 3. How did he spend it? Curled up on the couch watching Doc Mcstuffins, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Elena of Avalor. With a packet of boogie wipes never out of reach.

Big Bear went to school Monday and came home happy. But by late afternoon, he had a cough that made him sound like an 80-year-old chain smoker which a hoarse voice to match. A trip to the doctor on Tuesday revealed that although he didn’t have croup, he had a cold. So, the rest of the week, I balanced my time between Big Bear and Little Bear.

Luckily, Big Bear being home sick didn’t get in the way of Little Bear’s schedule too much. We still made it to our Gymboree and Silly Monkeys classes. The only difference was after each class, we didn’t have time to linger with his two girlfriends. He has two now. We had to rush home to Big Bear, who was either being watched by Grandma or dad.

Having BB at home for the rest of the week confused Little Bear. He is used to spending his days with just his nanny. He is used to not seeing his big bro until after his nap. He knew that BB being home wasn’t normal, and he didn’t have any problem in defending himself when his big bro picked on him.

I am not used to having both boys fight for my attention. Usually, while one is cuddling with me or reading books with me, the other boy is with a parent or grandparent. But last week it was mostly just me. When I sat on the floor reading BB a book with him sitting in my lap, LB got frustrated and wanted to read with us. So he crawled on top of his brother to sit in my lap. If I was holding one boy, the other boy wanted to be held, too. Little Bear is no longer a little baby that I can leave in his walker while Big Bear and I try and spend some time alone together. He sees when he’s being left out and he now knows how to fight for his own attention.

On BB’s second day home from school, he wanted to run around, play in Grandpa’s office. He wanted to pull every toy off of every bookcase. This raised our eyebrows. “If you’re well enough to run around the house and play,” we told him, “you are well enough to go to school.” He did not like our ultimatum, but he complied. He couldn’t play in Grandpa’s office until the end of the day like normal. Grandma can’t play with him all day because she has work to do, too. To him, being home from school with his nanny meant a trip to the museum, or a building a big fort that took up the entire playroom. He didn’t like being told that although he was home from school, everyone else in the house still had to work.

I haven’t had to deal with both boys on a non-field trip day for a while. I forgot how hard it is to juggle more than one kid. Big Bear and I would be playing calmly together, and Little Bear would run out of the room. After a few seconds of realizing he wasn’t planning on coming back, I’d go look for him. I’d find him attempting to climb the stairs or break into the laundry room. He would just stare at me. If I wasn’t going to give him my full attention, he was going to entertain himself his own way. 

Somehow, each day I managed to get both boys to nap at the same time. We had a routine. I’d give LB a bottle and rock him until he fell asleep. Then I’d go into BB’s room and read him a few stories. This week we spent our story time reading about ocean animals. Did you know that a blue whale’s tongue weighs as much as an elephant?!

After we’d read, and he’d hustle me for more stories, I would sit in the rocking chair until he fell asleep. Then I’d creep out of the room, put back together the house and work on homework until both boys woke up.

I think BB truly was fighting a cold, but I also think he was exhausted. He usually doesn’t get home until late each afternoon. He’s ready to play, but I’m pushing him into a bath, to eat dinner. All the things he needs to do before I leave for the day. It was nice to have a few quite days at home with him. Sure, LB destroyed every puzzle we’d put together. Every train track we engineered. But the three of us got to spend a few days in the new Bear House alone.

I left work Friday night for a three-day weekend. But it wasn’t three days without my boys. On Sunday, the boys, mom and dad, grandpa and grandma and my sister, had brunch at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne. Little Bear sat on the high chair the whole time- a human garbage disposal. Anything you put in front of him, he ate. Big Bear spent most of the brunch sucking up shredded parmesan cheese with a straw and asking everyone if they wanted a straw of parmesan cheese. I get now why my parents never took me out to eat when I was under five.

This Memorial Day Weekend, I’m not on a boat like most Miamians. I’m not day drinking (or drinking at all, to be honest). I’m thinking about how after this week, Big Bear is done with PreK 3. How an entire year has flown by. Again. To me, summer is here. The heat has made that very clear. Another school year is gone and summer is here. Time to break out the sunscreen.

The Bears get a new Bear House

It’s Sunday morning and I’m procrastinating my writing. I have a big online assignment due for my children’s book writing course and a phone interview to work on a 1,200 word story I’ll be reading at a showcase in two weeks. But I am here, writing in the outlet that first brought my love for writing back to me.

Things are moving pretty quickly in the Bear House. I went out of town and when I came back, the Bear’s were proud owners of a new house. The house, boy is it gorgeous. Little Bear finally gets his own room (which isn’t the dining room) the boys have a real playroom (instead of the formal living room) and Mama and Papa Bear won’t have a Jack and Jill bathroom connected to Big Bear’s room.

The house now is overflowing with toys and crafts. Since LB doesn’t have a proper room, his toys and clothes overflows into the rest of the house. I think the new house will bring a little peace and calm to a house that is chaotic and loud. But wait, aren’t all houses chaotic and loud?

I went to visit the new Bear House this week after Big Bear got home from school. Besides the stairs to the second floor that could quite possibly be a deathtrap, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the house. Except maybe the missing nanny wing? I’ll wait patiently for that addition.

I am so happy for the new house, especially since it’s close to the Grove, but I will deeply miss the old one. Mainly for it’s location. It’s still in Coral Gables, but isn’t walking distance to the our favorite places, the Coral Gables Library and the Coral Gables Youth Center.

Over the past two years, I have discovered a safe and shaded walking route that’s two miles in length. Little Bear and I walk it most days. I have our favorite houses picked out, many photos of them saved on my camera roll and even hung up on my vision board. I’ve gotten used to our routines and my little Day-Life. I think I am taking the move hard.

I am not the only one in that house who doesn’t like change. Big Bear doesn’t either. He didn’t like changing school’s last August and he didn’t like when his brother was born. So to me, it’s only natural that he doesn’t like the new house.

When we went to visit the new house, BB wanted to show me the new swing set and the new fish tank (the pool) and nothing else. When I told him that dad and grandma needed to show me the rest of the house, he started freaking out and said no.

I finally got him to talk to me. I asked him if he was going to miss his old house and he said yes. He said that he doesn’t want a new house, that he loves the old one. We talked about all the fun memories we created in the old house. All the forts that we built, all the Friday night dance parties we had. Then I told him that the house just wasn’t big enough for his family anymore. I asked him if LB deserves his own bedroom and he said yes. The more we talked about the move, how even though it was a new house it would have all of his toys and his family, the more he warmed up. He continued with his meltdown, but I think he began to realize that the move can be fun and even an adventure.

I realize that life is about moving forward and new experiences and that when you have a family things are constantly changing. Your family is constantly growing, needing more space. Sometimes you grow out of houses, somethings you grow out of neighborhoods. But I guess that’s the fun of having a family. Big moves and new adventures aren’t scary, because you have each other.

The Bear’s are beginning to move things over to the new house but the official move won’t take place until Thursday. Every time I start to think about missing the old house, I think about all the times the UPS guy has woken up a sleeping Little Bear by banging on the front door or how the housekeep has woken him by pulling out the trash and recycling from their bins in the kitchen.

It’s our last week in the Bear House. I will be sure to take pictures of all the houses in the neighborhood that I’ve neglected to document, pick up my last books on hold at the library and take LB to the park by the Coral Gables Youth Center where he’ll see his girlfriend Lu.

Amazing memories happened in the old house. BB was born a month after they moved into the house. They brought LB home from the hospital to that house. But I think even more memories are going to happen in the new house. BB will learn how to read in that house and LB will be potty trained there. They will grow from little boys, to children to teenagers in that house. Most of their memories will take place there. If that isn’t special than I don’t know what is.



“Spring Break Forever.” -James Franco

Big Bear is back to school after his second spring break and we have officially entered the last leg of the school year. With the start of Big Bear’s summer camp, an impending move to a new Bear House and a new writing course, I can’t help but wonder what Summer 2017 has in store.

Firstly, I predict lots of hot, humid weather and annoyingly-timed sun showers. Before Big Bear’s summer camp starts, I also predict countless field trips. We are now proud owners of Jungle Island’s annual pass, along with our Zoo Miami and Miami Seaquarium annual passes. I’m assuming we’ll spend most of our camp-free days alternating between the three.

Big Bear will spend most of the summer at camp (from 8:30-4:30) and my days will mostly be spent with Little Bear. The first summer that I worked for the Bear’s, BB was just a little older than LB (BB was 2/12 and LB will be 2). It’s crazy to think that LB is almost the age that BB was when I first became a nanny. The older LB gets, the more adorable he gets. Except now he’s entering the terrible twos. He shakes his head violently “no” when he doesn’t get his way and he’s starting to throw his toys out of frustration. He also climbs….. everything. The other day, I found him standing on the train table. Why? When I caught him he smiled at me and said, “hi, train, uh-oh.” Each day is a test for him, how can I give my nanny a heart attack today.

BB is at the age that while he still wants to throw tantrums, you can reason with him. You can explain to him, almost logically, why he can’t do something. Sometimes he’ll cry and show his disappointment, but now he understands that there is a reason that he’s not allowed to eat a whole sleeve of golden Oreos before dinner or why he can’t draw on his little brother with permanent marker. Little Bear on the other hand has no clue why I tell him that he can’t eat week-old, stale Cheerios he found under the couch or throw buckles full of sand out of the sandbox.

Even though LB is 20-months old, I don’t want him to associate me, the nanny, with “cant’s and don’ts,” especially in a house full of so many adults who are all trying to parent their own way. I use these terms entirely too often and every time that I do, it makes me cringe. I believe there are ways to talk to a toddler throwing a tantrum, and sometimes telling them that they can’t do something isn’t the way.

BB, the kid who has never been a climber, decided to walk into dad’s office yesterday and stand on his swivle, office chair. Dad’s office is a deathtrap, which of course means that its the one room in the house both boys always fight to get into. The floor is littered with loose papers, receipts and notes. There’s usually an electric drill, maybe some screwdrivers at arms length. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t caught LB casually strolling out of the office holding a hammer. A young Michael Myers in training.

I was truly shocked when I saw BB standing on that chair. I picked him up and put him on the ground. He began screaming right away. I told him that it was time to leave the office. That’s not what he wanted to hear. Instead of dragging him screaming out of the office, I sat down on the floor next to him so that I was eye level. I began to look around. I told him that I didn’t understand why he wanted to play in dad’s boring office when he has a playroom full of toys. He looked around with me. He got up and walked out the door.

At this point you’d think, “success!” But while I was talking Big Bear off the ledge, Little Bear had crept by me and was busy pushing the on/off button of dad’s printer. He didn’t get the same treatment as his big brother. I picked him up and closed the office door behind us. As predicted, he started screaming and kept saying “no, no, no.” But I brought him into the playroom where BB was busy playing with a toy bus and LB couldn’t get out of my arms fast enough. He always has to do what his big brother is doing.

Sometimes I leave work and I really have no idea why I’m so exhausted. Then I think about my day. I cook three meals for Little Bear. I clean up those three meals. I feed BB dinner. I  give them baths. I do laundry, the dishes. I pick up scattered toys and throw out dirty diapers. Despite all that, I know I am lucky. I get two hours a day (I consider it a long lunch break) to do yoga, read Rolling Stone or a novel, write my homework, this blog, or a personal essay, and if I really am just so tired, I have no shame watching the Lifetime Movie Club app on my iPad. It’s the best $3.99 I could spend each month.

Lately I’ve been on a kick that I want to get an MFA in creative writing. But everything I’ve read reaffirms to do what I’m doing now. Have a job thats 9-5 (or my case 8-6), where you can write. Take courses that aren’t a fortune that hone in on the kind of writing you want to do.

Children are so special, but they can also be so overwhelming. Sometimes I have to take a step back and say all that I’m grateful for. I never felt this way at my last job, the environment was just too toxic. The way I felt about who I was as a writer was also too toxic.

I am grateful to be on the same frequency as my Day-Fam, the kind of family I hope to have someday. I have a job where if my boss finds me sitting on the couch writing or reading, drinking green tea, she knows that LB is asleep and the house is in order and that I deserve the downtime. I also know that although it doesn’t look so good on paper, I’m glad I have a job that is building towards my future. Each day I discover something new about the way I want to raise my children, the way I want to write and the kind of writer I want to be. Most days, coming home exhausted is well worth the long days.




Day (and night) Mom

6:30, Friday night. I’m curled up in the master bedroom in the Bear House, where I have been sleeping for the past four nights. I can hear the boys in the playroom. They are playing with the backup babysitter. Big Bear is saying “Help, help, help” over and over again and Little Bear is walking back and forth outside my bedroom door, saying “knock, knock.”

I have been a full-time mom since Monday morning. Mama and Papa Bear left for a much-needed vacation to the Four Seasons in Costa Rica, and I have temporarily moved in the Bear House. But right now I’m hiding in the master bedroom, my first real break of the day. I’ve been watching Forensic Files, of course, and reflecting on my time as a “real” mom.

I’ve been on the clock since 8 am Monday morning, but I’m not as exhausted as I thought I would be. I think I’m really enjoying my fantasy life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been in charge of school drop off. Each morning, while sipping coffee, Big Bear and I look for construction trucks as we drive south on Old Cutler Road. I’ve been in charge of bedtime and getting to tuck in the boys and kiss them good night. Each morning when I go to wake up Big Bear, I am greeted with “Good Morning, Rach.” How can that not put you in a good mood?

I’ve developed a mom mentality. I have become my worst fear. I have become one of those moms who doesn’t want to leave their children with a new sitter. I hear them in the other room and I want to pull up the nanny cam, just to make sure they aren’t being ignored.

Tuesday night, I went to my creative writing course. Before I left, I made sure to walk the backup sitter through the bedtime routine. After showing her where LB’s bottles are and which books to read to BB at bedroom, I left the backup sitter and my Day-Sons and went to class. I had mom remorse. But when I crept back into the house later that night, I snuck into both of their rooms and watched their sleeping faces. I looked forward to seeing them the next morning.

Each evening the backup sitter has come to relieve me for a few hours. I usually spent that time in the bedroom, but after 45 minutes or so I started to miss the boys. I have fallen into the role of full-time mom, but I have had lots of help. Besides the backup sitter, I’ve had help from Grandma and Grandpa Bear. All week, we took turns going to dinner. But last night they invited me to join them at the Biltmore. We stayed out later than we intended and when we got home close to 9, both boys were wide awake and running around the house. I became an annoyed mom. They were in their same clothes. They weren’t given a bath and they didn’t have their pajamas on. But they were happy, safe and clearly tired. They were both ready for sleep.

Slightly tipsy, I took BB to his room and read to him. After kissing him goodnight and making sure LB was also asleep, I retreated to the bedroom. The biggest adjustment hasn’t been waking up each morning to get BB ready for school. It’s been sharing the bedroom with a male.

Emmy, the service dog, has been my roommate. Each night I have been awoken to his pacing and more annoyingly, his snores. My love for him hasn’t grown since we became roomies, but I’ve been giving him extra attention and extra treats. I think he’s the most upset about mom and dad leaving the country.

Mom and Dad come home tomorrow and I will go back to my own apartment. It’s been fun waking up to happy children each morning and to get hugs and kisses each evening before bed. I usually rush out the door each night, desperate to get to my own house. But I have genuinely been enjoying my role as full-time mom. The one thing I’m really going to miss is being able to curl up in bed while LB naps, and read, write, or binge reruns of Will & Grace.

Since it’s our last night before mom and dad come home, I promised BB that we would have a movie night with popcorn. We talked about having a good dinner, taking a nice bath and watching either Trolls or Sung, the only two movies BB will watch at the moment.

Come Monday, I will be back to being a Day-Mom. I won’t be seeing BB until late each afternoon and I will be walking out the door at 6:30 each night. I will sleep in my own bed, with no restless or snoring dog sharing my room. I will go back to my real life. I’ve had a real glimpse of being a full-time parent this week and I think I liked it. I now see why parents want to have children. There is something about being wanted by a tiny person that warms your heart. I am going to miss that round-the-clock love.

27 Reflections

Tomorrow I turn 28. Little Bear turns 19 months. Last year I wrote a simalliar post about how LB and I celebrated our birthdays (Gymboree and a coffee/milk date) and this year I’m expecting the same, sans Gymboree. We go to classes Wednesday and Thursday and Friday is our free day, usually spent at the park by the Coral Gables Youth Center and the Coral Gables Library.

Also like this time last year, I am barely recovered from our Disney trip. I’m not sure what I’m more excited for. To turn 28 or to finally get a day off of work. Today is my 11th day of work in a row. Tomorrow marks the 12th. In a strange way I’m more excited for the day after my birthday, when I can sleep in and not get woken up by Big Bear shouting “My poop is brown today not green,” like he did during one of our many mornings in Disney World.

As predicted, our trip was five days of sleep depriving, badly eating, no-time-to-relax chaos, but I enjoyed every second of it. My favorite part of the trip was definitely sneaking away with Aunt E to ride the Haunted Mansion (my favorite ride) and binge watching, as planned, Forensic Files. Oh, how the universe listens. My side of the suite was bigger than my apartment. The TV was also bigger than the one in my bedroom (any TV is bigger because I don’t have a TV in my room) and was playing a Forensic Files marathon on HLN the entire time we were there. I was in Heaven.

What wasn’t in Heaven? My mind, body and spirt. The first few days at Disney World went by reality painless. I was awaken each day by the boys, not an alarm clock, and they were both so tired each evening that they went to bed without a fight. It wasn’t until Big Bear woke me up at 6:45 on Saturday morning that I got my real glimpse of  being a parent. I often forget that when I go home, I clock out. I go home to my apartment that is childless and eat dinner without having to keep a 19th-month-old and a four-year-old occupied. I really got a glimpse of being a full-time, single parent this trip. I applaud everyone who does it every day.

When children wake up for the day, they are up. It’s the same when they wake up from an afternoon nap. They don’t want to roll around in bed for a while, or play on their phone or check their email (maybe because they don’t have any of that?) They wake up, run out of bed and expect everyone else in the house to be as equally happy and cheery and ready to start the day. I found myself having my second cup of coffee before we even left the house for breakfast each morning, where copious amounts of coffee was continued to be consumed. If a person can OD from coffee, that would have been me.

The mornings might have been rough for me, but the evenings were my favorite. Not because it meant that the boys would be going to bed soon and that I would be free, it meant that I got to put Big Bear to bed, something I haven’t don’t in almost a year. Before he entered Pre-K and was still in daycare, I would tuck him in for an afternoon nap each day with a handful of books. I had forgotten how much I missed snuggling up next to him and watching him as he pulled his favorite books off his bookshelf. Every night during our trip we read from the books I packed and snuggled as he drifted off to sleep. I would wait until he was fast asleep and would watch his not-so-tiny face drift off into dreamland. With Little Bear sleeping or fighting sleep in the master suite with his parents, I would half-collapse into bed and elevate my feet while watching my favorite show.

With our Disney trip behind us, I guess its time to get excited for my birthday. Last year my Day-Fam surprised me with a birthday cake and presents. My chocolate birthday cake was covered in different colored balloons made out of frosting and Big Bear and I still laugh about how he stole my red frosting balloon right off my cake and shoved it in his mouth.

During our Disney trip, I told Papa Bear that I have a deep bond with Little Bear. Although I love the Bear Bros equally, I told him that I think I have a stronger connection with LB because we share the same birth date. He said he thinks its because I’ve been watching him since the day he was born. I think that it might be both.

Horoscope for those born on the 3rd of the month (courtesy of the Daily Mail):

“You have a good sense of humour and enjoy communicating with others. You may also have artistic or creative abilities. People are attracted to your charismatic personality. You have that ‘certain something.”

It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Little Bear’s horoscope and not Big Bear’s. Here’s the horoscope for people born on the 19th of the month:

“You have executive abilities and are driven to achieve your goals. When you admit your mistakes and accept advice from others, you increase your potential for success. A talented leader, you are often respected by others.”

I don’t think that I could come up with a more perfect horoscope for either of my Day-Boys. For so long Little Bear was so much small than Big Bear. Now Big Bear is becoming a boy and  Little Bear is quickly catching up to him. They are getting dangerous close to becoming the same size and weight. It’s only a matter of time before they both fully grow into their zodiac signs and those traits and characteristics become more prominent. I’m looking forward to seeing that change and growth.


Read more:

We’re Off to See Mickey & Minnie (Part II)

Big Bear turns four this week and the Bear Bros, mom & dad, grandma and grandpa and the nanny are packing up the Mickey Bus (the rented SUV) and heading to the Happiest Place on Earth. For the second year in a row.

I went to Disney World for the first time when I was 14. Little Bear isn’t even two and this will be his second Disney trip. This year we’re expanding our trip and adding Epcot to our itinerary, in addition to the two parks we went to last year. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. I have exactly one year to turn Big Bear into a Harry Potter fanatic so we can spend his fifth birthday at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter buying wands at Ollivanders and drinking butterbeer in Hogsmeade. A nanny can dream.

How is Big Bear turning four? It feels like a few months ago we were celebrating his second birthday with a Jake and The Neverland Pirates themed party. It feels like a few weeks ago that we were celebrating his third birthday (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed) at Disney World. Now he’s turning four and having a Lion Guard themed party. The Bears certainty know how to throw Disney-themed birthday parties.

Big Bear officially starts his first day of his two spring breaks (what other four-year-old gets two spring breaks?) at the end of the week. This Disney trip is going to start a little nutty. The day before we leave I start a 7-week creative writing course. After it gets out at 9 pm, I have to rush home and pack for four nights away from home. Most overwhelming will be finding the time to pack the boys while Big Bear is home on spring break and Little Bear unravels all of my progress. You should see him on laundry day. He’s very helpful when he throws miscellaneous objects into the hamper while I’m trying to sort the dirty laundry. He is even more helpful when he throws the newly folded clean clothes on the floor. I’ve learned that it’s best to save laundry for when he naps, to save from repeatedly folding the same load of laundry.

Packing for two kids, even if it’s just for half a week, is no joke. We need a pack ‘n play, for when Little Bear sleeps. Two separate strollers. In case we need to split up, the double stroller just won’t do. We need two car seats, facing two separate ways because of the age difference, two different kinds of milks. We need different lotions for post-bath, because Little Bear has the most sensitive skin and is prone to breaking out in every skin condition imaginable.

Last year we took the Mickey Bus carrying dad, mom, the Bear Bros, the nanny and the family dog, who is a certified service pet. He’s more like an old man, because he’s the size of an adult but thinks he’s as teeny as a kitty cat and likes to sit on everyone’s lap. Papa Bear rented an SVU the size of a large boat. The x5 just wouldn’t hold us all.  From where I was sitting, in the third row with Little Bear, I couldn’t hear the conversations mama and papa bear were having in the front of the car. They could have been plotting my death, for all I know. Big Bear, who was barely potty trained, sat in the middle row next to the dog with a pull-up and woke me every time I fell asleep by continuously saying “Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, Rachel…” In addition to the Mickey Bus grandma and grandpa drove their own SVU, carrying one large moving box full of cereals, snacks, Miralax, pacifiers, spare bottles and a second, identical box containing bottles, bath essentials, sunscreens and hats.

Like last year I will get my own room where I’ll most likely binge watch Forensic Files and take long, hot baths. Unless Big Bear decides to poop in my bath tub again, like he did on the second day of our trip. Somehow bubble baths stopped being appealing during the rest of the trip.

Since our last Disney trip, not much has changed in my life. I look the same, although my hair might be shorter and slightly more blonde. I have the same eye sight (still blind as a bat) and I still have the same wit. The Bears Bros on the other hand look and sound like two entirely different boys. Little Bear was barely crawling during our last trip to Disney World. At six months, he spent most of the trip glued to one of our hips or fighting a nap in his stroller. Big Bear is a year older and has really come out of his shell. He climbs jungle gyms at the park and enjoys sliding down slides by himself. He doesn’t need four hour naps anyone and is able to focus on one activity at a time.

Big Bear says that he is most excited to ride Dumbo. I found a full video of the Haunted Mansion ride (my personal favorite) on YouTube and have player it for him over and over. His favorite part of the ride is the ghost playing the piano. If you look closely at the piano seat, you can see a ghostly shadow on the floor. Big Bear giggles every time he sees it, pointing to the spooky shadow- making sure I’m paying attention. Maybe it is wrong to talk a four-year-old into riding the Haunted Mansion. Maybe I should bring Little Bear. He is a thrill seeker and if he objects he can shake his head, wiggle his finger back-and-forth and say “no.”

2017, so far, is lacking personal vacations. I know that Disney World will be five days of sleep depriving, badly eating, no-time-to-relax chaos, but how often does a gal get a paid working trip to Disney World? How often does she find employers who will change the dates of their vacation to accommodate their nanny’s non-accredited writing course? I might be overwhelming myself with my running list of purchases that need to be made on Amazon and the grocery store, but I know the unnecessary stress will all be worth it when the Bears and I pull into the main gates of the Animal Kindgom and Big Bear runs to the Tree of Life and Little Bear chases after him, both with pure excitement on their faces.

Fantasy and Reality, Reality and Fantasy

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that my Day-Fam isn’t my real fam. It’s easy to get invested when one of the boys is sick or when one gets injured, even if it’s just a stubbed toe from walking around the back patio with no shoes on, after you told them a thousand times to put shoes on! I’m with them more than I’m with anyone else. It’s hard to not get invested in their lives.

I often find myself showing random people photos of the boys because I just can’t explain how cute they are otherwise. Aren’t all moms that delusional? “You probably have more pictures of my children in your phone than I do,” their mom said to me once. No doubt in my mind, and those pictures are often sent to my own parents, along with theirs.

I get around moms in the real world and we instantly start to bond over our children. We talk about pre-schools and potty training, what are the few foods our kids will eat and whether or not they still nap. But I realize quickly into the conversation that no matter how much I know about Gymboree or the newest children’s books, at the end of the day, I hand the children off to their mother and go home to my apartment that isn’t covered in sticky, unidentified goo or spilled milk.

The Bear Bros are neither my boys physically or legally, and the money we spend on our fieldtrips doesn’t come from my own pocket. It’s easy to forget that my life is mostly fairytale. I’m with the boys alone most of the day, and we come and go as we please. I don’t worry about not being able to afford to take them to the zoo that day because I know I have a Zoo Miami annual pass, courtesy of the people who sign my paychecks. I am completely immersed in a family and I know what it’s like to have a family but somehow this thing called “a family” is still so foreign to me. Families have existed for thousands of years, I’ve been a part of one for two, and I still don’t understand how they work.

Every day when I leave work, I feel like I’m going to fall over and collapse from exhaustion. I want to go home and take a Purel bath and crawl under the covers for four days. Then I think about the women who have 3-4 kids who also work full-time and come home to wrangle their kids. “You just make it work,” I hear over and over. I guess I could be a Day-Mom forever and never know the true meaning until I’m waddling around the house with a child or two of my own. It’s hard not to think about your future family. For starters, I’m around families all day and most obviously, I’m a woman. It’s in our ovaries, I mean DNA.

I walk around the City of Coral Gables, often times with one Bear, but sometimes with two, and I imagine the families that live in the houses along the long, winding roads. The contemporary house on Escobar, the Colonial house on Toledo. Who drives which car in the driveway and how as a family, they spend their weekends. Like a stalker, I keep track of my favorite houses on our walks and look through the photos on Zillow later. I think about the memories that are created in the rooms in those photos and the people that walk the halls. Having a family of my own might overwhelm me, but I know it’s what I want.

Being a nanny, there is no job security, and for that I’m grateful. I might be complacent in my job right now, but knowing that this job has an unknown expiration date is forcing me to start thinking about my future, which can be hard, because I’m just so lazy. I know that in order to not jump from a Day-Fam to my own fam, I need to spend time now to figure out that in-between. The in-between where I figure out what kind of mom I want to be and how to have a career and a family.

Over the years I’ve wanted to be a career-mom, a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home-not mom, a stay-at-home mom, and now I’m going back to wanting to be a career mom. Or at least a working mom. Maybe I’ll work part-time or freelance, whatever, but I know I’ll be the kind of mom who has something that is her own. I have that now. When Little Bear naps and Big Bear is at school and all the laundry is done, the scattered toys collected and put away and the dishwasher loaded and unloaded, I shut down being a Day-Mom and just try and be Rachel. Rachel is a millennial who keeps the Miami-Dade Public Library System running with late fees and has a creepy and probably unhealthy obsession with Forensic Files and any show on Investigation Discovery, really. I jot down things I want to write during this time, but I hardly ever sit down and do it. Usually, I’m just too tired, and if I can’t stay awake while reading my book I’ll often put my head down on the couch and close my eyes, sometimes even taking a nice little cat nap.

As much as I love playing house with my two Bears, my pretend house in Coral Gables and coffee dates at Merrick Park, a large part of me craves the solitude of my quiet apartment, where I have enough quiet time to compose a blog post or two. Being able to use the bathroom in peace without having two sets of tiny hands knocking on the door asking me if I’m done yet. Going to sleep when I want and waking up to an alarm clock, not a baby crying through a monitor. It’s truly heaven. I’m almost 28-years-old and the thought of having my own family is still slightly terrifying. I know that I want one, eventually, but I still feel that children are years’ away. All the moms I talk to, they always say that they were never really ready, but once it happens that everything just falls into place. Maybe I need to take that advice and worry about it when the time comes.

I do know that although I probably don’t want to live in Coral Gables with my future family (I’m truly a Grovite at heart) I know that the Gables lifestyle is what I want and that I need to stay on that frequency. I also know that I want my real fam to be a lot like my Day-Fam. I want to be a strong, secure woman and I want my husband to spend his free-time with his wife and children. I want a marriage that is a partnership and I want my parents and my husband’s parents to be in our children’s lives as much as the grandparent’s in the Bear House. I want to have a family that is kind and who doesn’t judge but who doesn’t put up with crap and that is strong-headed. I guess more than anything, I want to be ready to have a family and until the universe brings that readiness to me, I want to keep letting it know what I want. I know eventually it will all find its way to me, when I’m ready.

New Year, Same Day-Mom

We’re only a few weeks into the New Year and my Day-Sons are already reaching new milestones. Big Bear is now confident to ride rides at the Zoo (he’s going to be a ride champ at Disney World next month) and Little Bear is now old enough to sit down and play with Big Bear and I when we play trains. Then there is their nanny, who now knows exactly when it’s the right time in a conversation to introduce herself as the nanny.

If we’re somewhere like the doctor’s office or the emergency room, like the time Papa Bear and I had to rush Little Bear to the hospital when he was having an allergic reaction to salmon, I say immediately that I am the nanny. If someone at the park says “cute kid” or asks how old he is, I don’t feel the need to blurt out “I’m the nanny!” I’ve done this before and sometimes it catches people off guard. They don’t want to know anything about me, they want to know about the baby. “Thank you,” I usually say, “He’s 17 months.” If they stick around to talk more (which most people don’t) then I tell them that I’m the nanny. It usually comes up when people ask if he’s my only child. Why do people always ask me this question? I respond with “oh, I’m the nanny. He does have an older brother but he is in school right now and will be 4 next month.”  If the conversation ends before it deems appropriate to say I’m the nanny, I smile and keep pushing the baby stroller, while Little Bear waves and says “bye” to them over and over.

It’s different with Big Bear. Besides the fact that we both have brown hair and brown eyes; people usually pick up pretty quickly that he isn’t my son. It’s just a guess, but I bet that it has something to do with Big Bear starting every sentence with “Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, Rachel” and not “mom, mom, mom, mom” that tells people I’m his caregiver. Who those people think I am, I could only guess. While Little Bear was in the hospital, Mama Bear told the front desk that I was her sister, making it easier for me to visit the baby. Why wouldn’t they think that we are related? We have a healthy relationship towards one another and most noticeably, I don’t wear a nanny uniform.

Being a nanny, I now know why so many nannies wear uniforms. For starters, your personal clothes don’t get ruined. I wear yoga pants and old or cheap t-shirts to work every day, because a day doesn’t go by that I’m not covered in milk (sometimes whole milk, sometimes almond milk, or sometimes both) or food, pee, boogers, snot, sand from that darn sandbox. You get the picture. These may be reasons why nannies chose to wear uniforms, but there are also reasons why employers ask their nannies to wear uniforms.

I didn’t understand why until I became a Coral Gables nanny. One of the main reasons is to distinguish the nanny from the mother. There is definitely a caste system with nannies in Miami, and many families, I feel, want people to know upfront that the person with their child is the nanny. While some families obviously don’t care about caste systems, others do. As a result, the caste system in Coral Gables usually keeps the nannies and the mother’s at the park segregated. It also creates Facebook groups where moms write about nannies at the park who don’t watch the children and it causes nannies to complain to each other about their employers. Its a never-ending cycle of one group complaining about the other.

“Omg, I thought you were his mom!” That’s the most popular response I get when I tell women at the park, Gymboree, wherever, that I’m not the mom and that I’m the nanny. Even stranger, depending on who I’m talking to or where I am, I alternate between telling people that I am the nanny and that I’m the babysitter.

I’m not entirely sure why I switch my answer, but I guess it’s better than living a crazy, double life where I tell people that I am the mom. Right?

When I meet someone new, not on the job, I always tell them that I am a nanny. I don’t tell them that I’m a full-time babysitter or that I’m just a babysitter. I usually say I’m a nanny to two little boys and that I have a blog that chronicles our adventures. But sometimes I tell moms I meet while on the job that I’m the babysitter, not the nanny, and I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s the way I read them that determines my answer. If I meet a group of really clicky moms that have no interest in getting to know me, sometimes I say I’m the babysitter. But if I meet moms that take the time to talk to me and seem interested in me, then I introduce myself as the nanny. Maybe since there is such a caste system with nannies in Miami that it is an insecurity of mine. Maybe I’m afraid that If I introduce myself as a nanny that they won’t think that I’m a woman with a bachelor’s degree who is finically independent. But maybe if they hear “babysitter” it won’t sound long-term and they’ll know that bigger things, career wise, are ahead for me.

Often I end up asking myself, why do I care what I introduce myself as, and why do I change the answer from time-to-time? Is there even a different between being a nanny and a full-time sitter? I don’t care at all when my Day-Family calls me their nanny, or when Big Bear says that his nanny is loco (which he often does, because I often am), so why do I care when strangers call me a nanny?

When I was a part-time nanny in college, it felt cute to call myself a nanny. I was the girl with extra cash at the beach bars who spent her days at the San Jose Country Club with her chargers or at museums throughout Jacksonville. Maybe as an almost 28-year-old its sounding less cute, at least to me.

I guess all that matters, in the long run, is that Big Bear, Little Bear and everyone in the Bear House treats me like me, and never “just the nanny.” It takes a village to raise a family, especially when everyone in the village works hard, long hours. Everyone in the Bear House work together to raise these boys and we all try and help each other out. If I have to take personal time for doctor appointments or all the weddings and bachelorette trips that I’ve been part of over the last two years, they are more than accommodating. It doesn’t matter what your career or job is, it is rare to find employers who want to see you succeed in life. I thank my lucky stars that I found mine, especially at this interim time I call myself a nanny.

The End of an Era (I mean) Year

It’s getting close to that time of year again, when the year is almost over and we all begin to reflect on our behavior over the past 12 months and wonder if we’ve stuck with those New Year’s resolutions that we promised oursevles the previous year.

What we’re my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions? They are usually the same every year. Eat better, exercise more. Except I added a few new ones for 2016. Don’t be judgmental or gossipy (curtesy of the No Complaint challenge), bond more with the Bear Bros and be true to myself.

It’s the end of the year and all the moms in my Coral Gables circle are frantically trying to squeeze in all of their makeup Gymboree classes in between holiday shopping and wrapping presents. Parent’s only have a few more days left before the schools close for winter vacation and their children are home full-time for two weeks, much to their horror. Many are rushing to plan activates for their kids that will allow the parents to keep their sanity. That’s the daily challenge of being a parent.

Although I know my days will be long and non-stop with Big Bear on winter break, I am looking forward to our two weeks together. Now that he is in school full-time I only see him a few hours a day, with baths and pasta dinners taking up most of that time. This will be two weeks of actually enjoying each other’s company. I know that squeezing in laundry and washing bottles will be impossible with both boys home all day, but I won’t mind the obstacles, because the Bears and I take the best field trips.

The past two New Year’s Eves fell on weekdays which meant I worked- at least part of the day. Two years ago, Grandma (nanny #2) and I took our only charge, Big Bear, to the Miami Children’s Museum where they happened to be hosting Noon Year’s Eve, which gives children and parents the chance to spend the holiday together. That first year, Grandma and I stumbled upon this museum tradition, we just went to the museum because Big Bear really wanted to go! As we were all huddled around the main lobby of the museum, you felt the New Year’s excitement. Children got to have a real New Year’s count down, not caring that it was taking place at noon and not midnight, and parents got to celebrate with their children in their street clothes and sneakers. Big Bear knew that after we counted down from ten that everyone would scream “Happy New Year!” and he was excited. He practiced the full twenty minutes leading up to the big countdown. The countdown began and was over before we know it, and balloons and confetti were falling from the ceiling. Parents and children hugged and most filtered out of the museum. The Bears and I (missing LB still in utero) went home.

Last year Grandma and I began planning our Noon Year’s Eve celebration a week in advance. We made sure to get to the museum lobby before the crowd and to keep the boys still with milks and snacks. We knew not to bring the double stroller for space was limited and we knew where to grab a seat so we were far enough from the the commotion but still a part of the action.

The same as last year, we refreshed BB’s memory on counting down until the New Year. We all got in our places and heard the fake clock strike noon, and we all cheered and hugged while an infant LB looked around in amazement, completely in awe of the falling decorations.

This New Year’s Eve is the first NYE that I’ve worked for the Bears that will fall on a weekend. Grandma and I, as we did last year, began to plan our fieldtrip to the Miami Children’s Museum a week in advance. It wasn’t until we were halfway through planning that we realized NYE falls on a Saturday.

For a moment, I contemplated going. I told myself that I could go with them to the museum and then rush back to my own life. Then I realized that although I take care of these boys almost every day, they aren’t my real family and I need to focus on my own. Being a nanny to the Bears is just the interim and it’s getting to the point where I need to remind myself of that. The Bears are going to keep getting bigger and keep growing and there is going to be a time when they outgrow me, and there will also be a time when I outgrow them.

The week after 2016 began Alan Rickman died, followed by David Bowie. It was put into the universe that 2016 was going to be a strange year, and in a lot of ways it was. People could throw in the death of Prince and a wacky political season as the demise of 2016, but 2016 was a great year, especially for me and the Bears. 2016 was the year that Little Bear turned one and began to crawl and walk and become a real person. 2016 was also the year Big Bear began PreK and grew into a boy who could use the potty on his own. It was also the year that their nanny finally got published for the first time since 2012 and the year that she created this blog. It’s also the year she started to get (somewhat) serious about her writing and signed up for a creative writing course.

What do I hope for 2017? For the Bear Bros to keep growing and exploring and take in the world around them (and to maybe get them out of their comfort zone and eat a few new foods). I hope the same for their nanny.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

As a kid, it feels like the days and years drag. When the school year starts, it feels like summer vacation is a lifetime away. Your birthday last for what feels like two days and your next birthday seems to be years away. Oh, how that changes when you become an adult.

Its December and my official two-year anniversary with the Bears. When I first got the job, there was only one Bear, who could talk but couldn’t form sentences. Now there are two and they aren’t so little anymore. Everyday Big Bear speaks more and more like a child rather than a toddler  and Little Bear walks and interacts like a toddler, not a baby. Boys, stop growing please!

Pinned to the corkboard in the Bear’s kitchen are their past 4 Christmas cards, a perfect example to how fast the years cone and go. The first card is a cartoon of a dad and a very pregnant mom hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, a furry friend at her feet. The next year’s Christmas card is pictures of an almost-one-year-old Big Bear, then the following year of an almost two-year-old Big Bear and a pregnant mom. Then of course there was last year’s card, of a teeny-tiny Little Bear being held by his two-and-a-half-year-old big brother. This card brought some debate among the family, as the men thought that it looked like BB was kissing a dead baby on the forehead while the women in the family clearly saw LB as the peaceful, sleeping infant he was. Let’s hope this years card didn’t spark any family debates.

In the two years that I’ve worked for the Bears, so much has changed in their lives. BB grew up and starting singing and dancing and going to school. He became potty trained. He adjusted from being the center of everyone’s attention to sharing the spotlight. Little Bear was born and learned how to crawl. He had major surgery at eight months and is now walking, dancing and speaking a handful of words. He also likes to climbs-  especially his dresser and bookcase.

Last Christmas I would wrap presents for the Bears while BB was at preschool and an infant LB would take his morning naps. Now BB is in PreK and LB doesn’t nap in the mornings. Last year BB and I would read Christmas books and write letters to Santa, but the understanding of what Christmas actually is being still too advanced for him. This year we discuss what day of the month Christmas is on and how every present we receive is a treat and how to be grateful. When Little Bear was cranky last year, I’d hold him in my arms, when he was still small enough to cradle, and I’d rock him side to side in front of the Christmas tree and watch his little face take in all the lights, all the ornaments. This year he takes off the ornaments on the tree that he can reach and walks them over to me- an accomplished, proud look on his face. He reminds me of a cat I had as a child who would play with the ornaments on the Christmas tree then run hiding when one would fall off and break. We’re going to need to start super gluing the ornaments to the tree or remove all the ornaments in arm’s length of LB. What a sight that Christmas tree would be.

Sometimes it’s easier to see how other people’s lives have changed and evolved over time and not so easy to see how your own has changed. In the past two years, I’ve attended 4 of my friends’ weddings and one of their baby showers. I’ve comforted a friend through a breakup and watched as she grew into a new relationship. On the outside looking in, it’s easy to think that my life hasn’t change much, but from the inside I’m hardly the same person. It might not be a career, but I have found a job where I wake up genuinely excited to start my day. I never have to worry about whether my boss will be my best friend or my nightmare, very different than my life just two years prior. I might not be getting published as often as I would like but I’ve consistently had this blog for almost a year. Two years ago, when people asked me what I write, I didn’t have an answer. Now I have a blog with over 20 posts and some amazing and loyal followers (major shout out to my family) and the passion for writing again. Time moves so quickly but I still have my youth. I still have three more years of my twenties to write blogs entitled “Who Am I? Part 3-103” and I still have time to figure out what kind of writer I want to be.

Looking back on 2016 you can think of all the horrible things that happened. The deaths of Severus Snape (I mean Alan Rickman) and Davie Bowie, when LB was in the hospital a week for his surgery. But you can also see all of the good. How the Harry Potter community came together to support each other and LB getting the “all clear” from his orthopedic surgeon six months after his surgery. And of course, there was our trip to Disney for Big Bear’s third birthday and Little Bear turning one.

This year’s Christmas card will be of a mom, a dad, two boys (neither so little) and no new additions to the family. The card will of course include photos of the family dog, who over the years has watched his human family of a mom and a dad grow to include one human brother and a second. Don’t feel bad for the dog. LB loves to share every meal with his furry best friend which only slightly irritates the nanny. I think he’s adjusting well to his growing family.