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I Left Her for 3 Days

We went on vacation. Selfishly, we went on vacation by ourselves. Well, not vacation exactly. We dorked out and went to a Board Game Convention (that’s another story for another time).

We left Beans with my parents for 77 hours. Three bedtimes. Four naptimes. Endless hours of fun. Which we were not a part of. 

I have extremely mixed emotions about this. 

On one hand, I had such a fucking great time on vacation with my husband. We drank beers, we ate at restaurants without worrying about how much to tip because they’d have to clean up after our kid, we played so many games, met some really cool people and generally reconnected.

On the other hand, I didn’t get to read her bedtimes stories, sing her songs before her nap, get her milk, watch her climb stairs at the park, teach her about feeding the ducks, give her her first timbit (yes, Dad, I know what you did), make her laugh.

Is this meant to be cut and dry? I’ve always been more comfortable with cut and dry conclusions but I don’t think parenthood is going to work that way. I’m always going to want to spend all my time with Beans. She is fucking cool. But, I’m also going to want a break from parenting.

Sometimes you just want to spend a day not saying “not in your mouth”, “on your bum”, “sit down, turn around”, “the dog doesn’t like it when you rip out her fur”. 

The worst and best part was coming home. When she saw us it was like she finally realized we had been missing. My parents did such a great job of keeping her distracted that when she saw us she immediately started crying. She hugged me so hard I thought she might bruise me. She didn’t let go of me until she fell asleep that night. 

She missed me too.

And now I will never leave her again.

Just kidding. Sort of.

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I Didn’t Know I Would Feel Like This

I knew the day was coming. For some stupid reason I decided to let it sneak up on me and now it has sneaked up on me and I am not ready.

I’m not ready to be done mat leave.

I didn’t expect that. In the very early days I was looking forward to going to work, to talking to adults, to using my brain for adult problems, for adult responsibilities. I didn’t want to spend my days playing on the floor. I didn’t want to keep cleaning her tray three times a day. I didn’t want to tidy the house every day at noon. I didn’t want to wear only casual clothes. No, wait. I always want to wear only casual clothes.

But, today was my last day at my favourite play group and it was one the hardest mornings of my year. I got to sit down and watch my baby kid try to climb up to sit in a chair, wander around the room looking for books, get too much stamp ink on her hands, and then give me a huge smile when she spotted me from across the room. We had a nice time. They even sang her Happy Birthday because she turned one on Monday.

I made friends this year. I like them and I like their kids. Which is huge and surprising. I’ve never really liked kids I wasn’t related to but now I’m going to miss them.

I’m not ready for this to not be my day to day. I’m not ready for a new routine. I’m not ready to not be her immediate source of comfort when she falls too hard. I’m not ready for someone else to be the one tickling her and making her laugh during the day.

I’m not sure I can drop her off that first day week without crying. Not because I think she won’t be ok – she will be great – but because I want to hang out with her. I want to get her her lunch and tickle her toes when she’s done eating. I want to play hide and seek with her. I want to help her chase the dog around the house.

Instead I go back to work and someone else gets to do all those things while I… do my job.

The worst part is that I like my job. I like my job. I think that’s what’s hardest about this. Even if we could afford for me to stay home I would then miss my job.

It’s not quite fair that I have to go back to work right when she is getting to be the most fun she’s ever been and I can only assume she’s going to get more fun as she gets older – I mean, look at who is raising her. Is it going to get harder to leave her with someone else as she gets to be more fun? Will I feel like I can be more present with her when I am home because I’m home less? Will I ever be ok with someone else being the first to note when she accomplishes milestones? Will my heart ever not break when I drop her off at daycare?

I don’t know. And maybe that’s just my new motto when it comes to parenting. Who the fuck knows?

 

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Anger was a Surprise

“You are mean to that dog”, my brother said hesitantly.

And, holy shit, I’m so happy he did. Those words made me think hard about how I was acting. I was yelling at my dog. I was short with my husband. I was struggling to maintain my patience with my baby. The smallest things were making me angry. So fucking angry. Adam didn’t do all the chores even though he was at work all day. Traffic was bad so he was 10 minutes late coming home. My pizza was reheated too hot in the middle and too cold on the edges. The dog was asking for too much love. The dog was being a dog. Beans was being a baby. Beans was sleeping too long on me and I really had to pee.

I had this seething anger sitting in my belly, glowing red hot and trying to escape. It was exhausting trying to keep it down and be patient. It was heartbreaking to see myself blow up and snap when all I wanted to do was laugh and hug. I was faking my happiness and I couldn’t keep up with it.

So, I called my doctor. And I cried in her office and told her honestly how I didn’t know how to feel happy anymore. How I was angry at every one except Beans. I only had patience for Beans and that didn’t feel like me. How I missed smiling without feeling that sadness behind my eyes. How I wanted to make her laugh but didn’t have the energy because all my energy was going towards staying calm.

She listened calmly and talked openly with me about what help I might be able to find. She gave me a prescription for hormonal birth control and, best of all, she gave me a referral for a counselor and made me an appointment to come back and check in with her.

I filled that prescription. I have always struggled with a balance in my hormones which cause me to be extremely emotional so it was no surprise when after only a month I was able to laugh without feeling like it was forced. Within two months I was smiling regularly and making my baby laugh again. I was loving my dog instead of just dealing with her.

I also saw a counselor but that was a fucking bust. She was not well equipped to deal with post-partum or baby issues. She actually suggested I give my 9 month old baby a time out and punch pillows to get my anger out.

It’s been four months now and I finally feel like myself again. I re-gained my energy, lost the last 20 pounds of cake I gained while pregnant (that’s another story all together), and when I looked in the mirror I saw myself again. I saw the joy in my eyes, the love for my husband, the happiness that sits in our home, the beautiful chaos that is our life.

I was looking out for sadness, depression, exhaustion, dark days. I did not know to look for anger. I didn’t know I could even feel as angry I did. I’ve never felt that angry before. I’ve never treated my loved ones like that before. Thank god for my doctor. I’m so happy to be me again.

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Milestones

Over the last ten months I’ve been watching our daughter grow. I’ve been keeping track of what milestones she should be meeting and I’ve noticed each one. I saw when she learned to roll over and when she learned to roll back over. When she could sit up. When she could get on her hands and knees. When she could crawl. When she could stand. When she could walk with help. When she could say “dada” and “mama”. When she took her very first solo steps.

I’ve been so busy watching her physical development that the psychological development keeps taking me by surprise.

I keep being surprised by how much of a person she is.

That sounds bad but I think you know what I mean. I’ve never spent time with a baby like this before. I’ve never seen personality develop and it’s fucking cool!

My kid is funny and silly and adventurous and determined and silly. She’s so fucking silly. I wish I could adequately describe her silliness. It’s magical.

Tonight my baby turned into a kid when she got the sleepy sillies at bedtime. She was laughing and she was trying to make us laugh. It is absolutely my favourite thing in the world when she tries to make me laugh.

This is fucking amazing.

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Fuck Nap Time

It sucks. It sucks so much.

My kid is awesome when awake. She’s joyful, funny, silly and adventurous.

But when it’s time to take a nap she turns into the worst kind of beast.

I always hold out hope that nap time will go well. She holds still while I change her diaper. She drinks her bottle without fussing while I read her the same ol’ stories (I could recite Welcome Baby in my sleep).

And then I try to put her to sleep. And how dare I?! How dare I try to get my kid to nap when she’s tired. I walk her, I bounce her, I rock her, I rub her back, I say “shh” so many times it has lost all meaning. She still will not go to sleep.

So sometimes she gets to cry to sleep. And that makes me feel like a bad mom. I cry outside her room while she cries inside her room because I can’t do anything to calm her down. She just needs to fall asleep and I’m distracting her not helping her. I cry outside her room listening to her cry “mama” knowing that if I go back in there right away she isn’t going to go to sleep. She is going to cry louder and harder and wake up. I know that if I just wait 5 minutes I will hear her calm down and relax and finally go to sleep. But those 5 minutes are the fucking worst. I feel like I’m failing her. I’m failing her in that moment.

Bedtime is ok. For some reason bedtime is fine. Sometimes a few minutes of crying but it’s not really crying. It’s more like whining. Which is totally easy to listen to . I can listen to the sounds of her whining to sleep any day.

But the crying at nap time. Will nap time ever not be like this? Probably. Does it suck right now? Fuck yes.

 

 

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Riding a Bus with a Baby

I took Beans to the doctor yesterday for her Flu shot booster. After she cried and we nursed in the  doctor’s office I decided to run a few errands before getting back on the bus. Maybe she would fall asleep and not cry the entire way home. She hadn’t had a good nap yet and cried on the bus ride there.

I went to the book store and got too many books. I went to Starbucks and got some frozen chocolate thing in a cup with whipped cream. Then I went to wait for the bus. In the ten minutes it took for the bus to arrive Beans had almost fallen asleep. She was seconds away from being completely gone.

I got on the bus and it was busy. A nice woman offered me her seat which I gratefully accepted. That was my mistake. The other woman sitting at the front of the bus said as loud as possible “Aaaaaawe”.

Like she had never seen a baby before. She couldn’t even see my baby. Beans had her sweater hood up and her face was buried in my coat. I guess we look cute together. I am pretty cute.

As soon as she opened her obnoxious mouth Beans started to rouse and cry. So I shushed the woman.

That’s right. I fucking shushed a stranger on the bus because she nearly woke up my baby.

The look on her face made me see that she did not understand what was going on so I whispered “ sleeping” to her. She nodded but still looked indignant. Like I fucking care if I hurt your feelings.

Ugh. I know I should care. I know I don’t want to be rude but when it comes down to being polite to strangers I’m forced to be near and making sure my baby falls asleep after the flu shot you sure as hell know I’m picking my baby.

Beans did not want to go to sleep so I stood up carefully on the moving bus to bounce her. She kept raising her head in protest. Sleepy sleepy protest. And that’s when the woman said loudly “She’s not sleeping now!” I gave her a look that could only mean “you’ll be sleeping with the fishes if you don’t shut up and let me do my job!” At least that’s what I hope the look said. I had sunglasses on so maybe she didn’t see the fury in my eyes. She stopped talking and Beans fell asleep.

The rest of my bus ride experience including this woman talking to other mother on the bus and making comments like “manners are important”, “your baby is beautiful”, ” so nice to see a nice young mother” all while giving me side long glances.

I hate riding the bus. I still don’t understand what it is about babies that makes crazies think they can suddenly be involved in my daughter’s  life. No, you can’t know her name, there’s no reason to tell you her age, yes, she looks cute, no, she doesn’t like strangers.

Neither do I.

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How I get Through the Day

I have never hidden the fact that I think babies are boring. Adorable, lovely and boring. You can’t have a conversation with them. You repeat the same games and exercises every day. My little Beans naps while she is nursing so I’m stuck in the rocking chair for an hour most days. Which just means I’m super caught up on all my TV shows.

When I had visited a counselor in the early days of Beans’ life she asked me what I look forward to each day. I couldn’t answer her at the time. My days were so filled with nursing and sitting that it didn’t feel like there was anything different to look forward to.

Now that Beans is 6 months old I have things I look forward to and that remembering them helps me stay in the moment and engage fully with her. Granted, I’m still bored as shit singing Little Green Frog and Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes every day but I’m less bored than I was 4 months ago.

I look forward to…

1. Breakfast. Now that Beans is eating food, breakfast is crazy adorable. I love watching her try new foods and mashing them all over her face and chair. It seems to be the way her the dog are bonding. Beans stares at Alice, the dog, while she tries to eat some boiled egg. Alice just stands there waiting for the inevitable moment when food hits the floor.

2. Swim class. Once a week I take Beans to the pool for half an hour where she floats and gets mad me for dunking her underwater with 10 other baby/parent combos. Her little swim diaper is so cute and watching her figure out that putting her face in the water is amazing.

3. 4:30/5:00 pm. Adam gets home. No matter what Beans and I are doing as soon as she hears the door, she is looking for him. It melts my heart when she smiles at him when he is finally in plain view.

4. Walking the dog at lunch. Usually I am not necessarily a big fan of walking my dog. She pulls the leash, tries to chase squirrels and can be a dick to other dogs sometimes but when we are walking with Beans she doesn’t do that as much. She listens to me. She is protective of my baby and that makes me love her. Also I love that I have to leave the house every day. It doesn’t hurt that the hour we are outside Beans is happy in the carrier napping or looking around at the world.

5. Nap time. Like I said, babies are boring and nap time is when I get to do something other than play on the floor. It might just be washing the dishes or sweeping the floor or pumping but for twenty glorious minutes I’m not singing The Wheels on the Bus.

6. When the coffee is ready. Cannot function without it.

7. Bedtime. It’s such a special time when she nurses to sleep while I sing her lullabies. And then she is asleep and I can have a beer with my husband and maybe play a game or just cuddle on the couch or whatever. It’s so nice to just be an adult with him at the end of the day.

This list changes all the time. I’m sure it will be different in another 6 months and I think that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.