Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So...What Did You Guys Do Today?

 Eating soil.  
My mobile kid can get into all kinds of fun stuff.
This morning I spent 30 minutes putting books in a bin over and over and over and over again so Jack could pull them out and fling them every which way. Ah, the monotony of motherhood. These are the experiences that are at the forefront of my mind when my husband comes home from work and says, “What did you guys do today?” There are days when I could say, with a straight face, “Crawled behind Jack and repeatedly removed him from potentially dangerous situations. Oh, and he ate a couple of times.” Truthfully, even this is a lot more interesting than eight or nine months ago, when it would be more like, “Stared at Jack while he slept, looked around, rolled over. Oh, and he ate about a dozen times.”
There is a special kind of Mommy Guilt associated with that innocuous question. “What did you guys do today?” It is impossible to explain how exhausting it is to be home all day. It sounds crazy! I can sleep when Jack sleeps. I can stay in my pajamas all day! When he was first born, I could literally have sat in one place for the entire day, as long as he was in arms' reach. A new breastfeeding mom of just one baby could conceivably feed, change, and entertain a newborn without standing up, if she were so inclined. It might require some creative placement of crucial items, but it's definitely possible.
Of course, no one has ever done that. I rarely napped when Jack was first born because I was a first-time mother, obsessed with every movement he made. I couldn't possibly sleep if he might – gasp! - yawn. However, that also meant that I didn't get a lot done around the house because I was constantly checking on him or “playing” with him. I would rack my brain for the fastest chore I could complete so that I felt useful, so that I could give a satisfactory answer to the question of what I had done all day. Often it was walking the dog because I could put Jack in the Baby Bjorn and it was good for all three of us, but Milwaukee winters are not the best for outdoor time. As Jack got a little older, vacuuming with him in the Bjorn would keep him happy and it felt like exercise so it killed two birds with one stone. (This was not a fun time for Jet, as he believes the vacuum is a dog-eating monster.) But I still felt as though I wasn't carrying my weight, especially during the months that Mike took call every fourth night or worked six 12-hour ICU shifts each week, and still got up during the night...what a guy!
At least I can confidently say that it does get better. Everyone tells you that in the earliest days, but it's hard to believe when are in your second or third month and lucky to be sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time and you literally can't remember the last time you dusted. Or mopped. Or cleaned the toilet. But it's true. Yesterday I was able to clean the kitchen and bathroom, do the dishes (aka run the dishwasher), post on the blog, visit my mom, go to the post office, drop off the dry cleaning, and check on the house, all before Mike got out of work. Yes, you're right, that list fails to include taking a shower, but that happens sometimes (often) with a baby around. At least I brushed my teeth.
A new panic has already started creeping up on me, though. We are not (NOT NOT NOT) ready for another baby, but somewhere down the line we will be, and I get to thinking: is it like that all over again but worse because there is now a toddler/preschooler to chase around as well? Or- please please please- is it better because you've been there, done that, and have less time to worry about the little things?
I know that Mike has only good intentions when he asks about our day, but I can't help but feel embarrassed sometimes. For instance, the day is still young I guess, but the only thing I can add since I started this post (2ish hours ago), besides reaching the end of the post- thanks only to a half-decent nap for Jack- is 15 or 20 minutes of stacking wooden blocks so he could swat at them and send them flying around the room. Super productive.
At the end of the day it still feels okay. If it didn't, I would have run back to work at any job I could find, if just to see more tangible results for my efforts. Fortunately babies have some redeeming qualities that, most of the time, counteract the monotony. Jack is 10 months old now, and he is showing a lot of affection. He is smiling and laughing out loud, getting excited to see me/Mike after being away for a bit, trying to talk more and more, showing a sense of humor, etc. At least at this age he is starting to demonstrate appreciation for the time that I spend with him. And as he gets older, he is more and more independent and mobile, so he can play for 10 minutes while I fold a load of laundry, or “help.” I'm hoping it continues to improve over the next few weeks so that when we move into the new house I'm prepared to keep up with the bigger space. Is it to early to put Jack to work? Maybe I can tie Swiffer pads to his knees and let him crawl all over the place. Everybody wins!
Time to get something done so I have something interesting to say when Mike gets home.

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