I wonder why not?
When I consider my profession, I tend to think of myself as simply… raising children. Of course, anyone who’s ever tried it knows that it’s not a simple thing. It’s demanding on so many levels: physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual, spiritual. But at the same time, I’m a woman raising children. Not all of them are my own. Some — most! — of them are other peoples’ children, children who I am co-raising alongside their loving parents. So, here I am, in my home, raising children.
Just like any other parent.
This afternoon I was feeling chilly, tired, a bit demoralized, generally weary. One of the things I enjoy when I’m feeling this way, something which warms and comforts me, is a nice soak in a pleasantly-scented tub. Relaxing, soothing, warming.
It was nap-time. Everyone was soundly asleep. The bathroom is on the same floor as the bedrooms. Were anyone to cry out, I’d be closer there than I am here, down in the livingroom. It would simply be a matter of throwing on my robe and checking it out. Were these my own children, I’d have had that bath.
But these are not my children, and so I didn’t.
I wonder why? Really? Parents take baths while their children sleep all the time. They even take showers, which, if you think about it, isolate you far more than a bath would. You can’t hear anything from outside the bathroom when you’re in a shower. I certainly took showers while my children slept. (Still do, but given that my ‘baby’ is 17, it’s not really an issue any more. 🙂 )
In fact, when I think about it, there are all sorts of things that parents do that I don’t. I avoid talking on the phone during when the kids are awake. I don’t drink (alcohol). I don’t invite a friend over for coffee mid-morning. (Though I certainly chat with other caregivers at the park — and don’t think there aren’t people out there who think I shouldn’t!)
Which brings us to the things I do do, that not everyone is convinced I should. I sit on the porch with a cup of tea and a book on a fine day while the children nap. Not everyone is comfortable with that. I let the older children mix with the younger children, just like in a real family!! (At least one couple out there thinks I shouldn’t be doing that.) I will leave husband or daughter in charge — again, during naptime — while I zip over to the corner store. Some poor caregivers are not even allowed to take their garbage to the curb during work hours!
I don’t know why I don’t feel comfortable taking a bath with the tots sleeping in their beds. As mother to my own children, I’d not have thought twice about it. As caregiver to someone else’s child, I don’t do it.
It’s sort of a weird job, that way.