Mr. & Mrs. R. are going out of town on vacation. For a week, it's just me and the girls. Wednesday to Wednesday. I've babysat for them overnight before, but not for more than 4 days, and not during the summer. I'm excited, and nervous. A.'s been having lots of behavior difficulty lately, and won't often listen to me, but I'm still excited about spending so much time with the girls.
Wednesday morning I arrive at the R.'s house at 6:15 a.m. so Mr. & Mrs. R. can leave. Mrs. R. sends me to the store for last-minute tampons. Finally, at 7:15, they leave. I have to get the girls up at 7:30. A. has summer camp for 6 hours during the day, and E. has a 2-hour class. I get them up, dressed, fed, and teeth brushed, and we're out the door. They're happy to see me. I'm guzzling coffee.
The day goes on without a hitch. I drop both girls off, run some errands (there was literally no food in the house when I got there), and swing back to pick up E. Take her home, feed her, put her down for her nap. Then we're off to pick up A. Take both girls home and play for a while. Make dinner. Feed them. Bathe them. Read to them. Put them to bed. (You may remember when I described their bedtime routine here.) Rinse, and repeat.
The days are mostly the same. The weekend is more challenging because I get food poisoning AND the 7th Harry Potter book came out. I camp myself on the couch, book in one hand, throw-up bowl in the other, and sit the girls in front of the TV for 12 hours straight (something I am adamantly opposed to. I normally don't let the girls watch TV).
Some days are harder than others. It's lonely at night after the girls have gone to bed at 7:30 and I'm awake. I clean the house each night, and do the dishes. Take out the trash. Feed the dog and cat, scoop the cat's litterbox. Read a bit. Some nights A. screams so loudly during a tantrum that I'm afraid the neighbors are going to call the police. Some nights we're all so frazzled and sick of each other that we're all grumpy. E. has nightmares a few nights in a row, and comes in to sleep with me. She tossed and turned.
But amid all tantrums, and the sheer difficulty of being a single mommy to two young kids, is such joy and happiness. At the end of the day when I'm exhausted beyond belief and the girls have fried my last nerve, I still love them fiercely. It's all worth it. All of it.
Back to the present
I miss the girls so badly. I think about them on a daily basis--wondering how they're doing, thinking about what I'd be doing with them at that moment, if. If. If I was with them. But I'm not.
I second-guess quitting a lot, too. But I have to keep reminding myself that Mr. & Mrs. R. were literally making me crazy. I have to keep reminding myself that though I loved the girls so very much, that environment wasn't healthy for me. Or for them...and that kills me. I wanted to save the girls so badly. But there was nothing I could do. So I left.
I feel like a quitter. I feel like a failure to them. I knew them for seven years. Seven years. I remember rocking sweet A. to sleep when she was just a tiny baby. I remember watching her take her first steps. I remember the weight of her on my chest when she'd fall asleep on me. I remember when E. was born--how happy we were. I remember the sound of her high-pitched voice squealing whenever she saw me. I was there for her first steps, too. I remember taking long walks with the girls, just listening to their chatter coming from the stroller. I remember their soft little bodies snuggled up against me as we read stories.
It's been over 2 months now since I've seen them. Some nights, like this one, the pain and grief for my two lost girls is still raw. The wish that I could have said goodbye to them will remain forever. Someone remarked to me that I'm grieving like they're dead, and they're not--but against my wishes, they are to me.