Monday, April 29, 2013

It takes a Village

Over the last 3 months I have been incredibly busy:
-rehearsing/performing a lead role
-helping to produce 3 shows
-creating/filming/editing a webseries
-editing promo videos
-writing 3 grants
-vocal and text coaching a John Webster play at a University
-assistant teaching/grading papers at a University
-hosting family/friends at my house, etc, etc

I basically didn't spend a single evening at home in almost 3 months. And ontop of all that I have this incredibly enerergetic growing two year old who thrives best when you engage in explorative play with him...which really doesn't leave much free time during the day, at all.  But somehow I was able to make it through this incredibly busy and stressful time.

I couldn't have done it without my amazing support system.

For one, I have a NEW unique situation that has been my saving grace for the last few months.
It's called Bethany. [Or, a dear friend living in my basement]
A few months ago Bethany approached me about her struggle with trying to save enough money and I saw an opportunity that might help us both. We had an extra bedroom in our basement. We needed help with childcare. Beth wanted to save money. So we offered the room to her for an incredibly low rent price with the addendum that she would watch Gunnar for about 10 hours a week.
Beth and John and I talked it out and decided it seemed like a worthy we gave it a go.
Beth moved in at the beginning of December and it changed our lives. Suddenly we had easier solutions for everything...just adding a third person to the mix of things has been a life saver.

In addition to Bethany, we were grateful to have Nigel (Bethany's boyfriend) come and live with us for about five weeks.  Suddenly we were a happy family of 5. Gunnar's happiest moments were the incredibly rare moments when all four of his caretakers were "ALL TOGETHER!!"

And then we have the super duo pairs of amazing grandparents. About 2 weeks into the run of my show, my parents came to see me perform and then offered to take Gunnar home with them to Minnesota for two weeks to spend with both sets of grandparents. John and I decided the break would be nice and perhaps we'd be able to get some things accomplished, so we let him go. Unfortunately I wasn't able to enjoy a single moment of this "motherless" period as I was so busy accomplishing other tasks, but it did allow me to complete things with greater speed.  

And then there are the amazing Chicago standbys. We've left Gunnar in the loving care of his wonderful aunt Kerry and several different friends whom Gunnar talks about often in the hopes of playing with them again soon.

And of course, on a daily basis I have taken Gunnar to the YMCA playrooms since he was just six weeks old. The caretakers there truly know him and have come to love him. He greets them by name with joy and smiles and leaves them with hugs and kisses. Just last week one of the babysitter's at the Y asked "when are you going to have another child so we can have another Gunnar to play with?" I assured her I wasn't quite sure about the answer to that but I do know I will continue to bring any and all of my children there for as long as I have a nest.  (I will have to recount my love for this luxury in another blog...but the Y and its free childcare has been my sanctuary and saving grace throughout my stay-at-home mommy career). 

All in all...I whole heartedly encourage this village caring model. Especially over the last 3 months I have seen Gunnar thrive under the care of numerous "parental figures" and I feel so blessed to have so many friends and family who have come to love Gunnar almost as if he is their own.  I love hearing the excitement in Gunnar's voice when he finds out one of his friends is going to be watching him for part of the day.  

My parents have said over and over how "well adjusted" Gunnar is for a two year old. He really is. He never cries when someone leaves, he welcomes each new activity and person with excitement and joy. I truly believe this sweet and well adjusted demeanor isn't necessarily 100% ingrained in his genes, but cultivated by the village of loving arms, bodies and souls who have cared for Gunnar over the past two and half years.