No Baby A. No M. No Kitties. No diapers. No tugging.
It’s just me on the East Coast. For five days I get to step out of my mommy role and back into my professional one. Today is day one and I already I feel like the pre-baby me.
It isn’t that I have changed (too much), but my circumstances have. Because my days are filled with child-caring and working, I’m in survival mode. The business-minded, go-getter in me gets muted, which has made me feel lost. Strange.
It only took me one day of talking with editors and walking through New York to make the business brain reemerge. Everyone needs some time alone to put things in perspective, whether it is a vacation, a business trip or a mixture of both.
So today begins five days of girl time. Sure, I’ll miss sharing my adventures; I know that when I return, I’ll be a better wife, mother…me.
M. is traveling this week and I have a confession to make. I can’t wait—not in the I-can’t-stand-to-be-around-him way because I will miss him terribly, but in the this-only-child-really-needs-some-time-to-herself way.
One of the things that I’ve had the most difficulty with since becoming a mom is striking the balance between the needs and wants of my family and the needs and wants of me. (What woman hasn’t?) As Baby A gets older, he seems to need more from me (a mommy who makes the pain go away, a playmate, a teacher) and M, like everyone, needs love and attention. Two things I haven’t been good about providing lately.
It’s because I don’t juggle well. I don’t juggle working, parenting, being a wife and being me well. I have a hard time asking for time alone because I feel guilty asking someone, anyone, to watch A. This includes M. Even though he is the one telling me that I need to speak up, I still feel bad since he works hard all day, all week. Why should I ask him to take his down time to watch A? He’s exhausting. But because I don’t, I won’t, do this; everyone ends up suffering. I know this and I still have a difficult time. So instead, I stress out and allow anxiety to get the best of me until I can re-boot.
There are only a few times that I am able to do that— when there are no major deadlines looming and I can concentrate on being a wife and mom (this doesn’t happen often anymore) and when M. goes away. This may seem strange since all the care-taking then falls on me, but here’s why M.’s traveling schedule gives me a break. Currently, I feel as someone always needs something from me every time I turn around. This may not be the case, but this is how I feel. The times that M. is gone that is one less being who needs me and my choices become less in the do-I-do-this-or-do-that game that I tend to live my life by.
I’ll miss seeing him in the morning and at night. I’ll miss spending the weekend with him. I’ll miss the way he seems to make everything more fun. But for the days that he is away, I hope to choose me.
In the sitcom “Still Standing” (reruns can be seen on Lifetime), Jaime Gertz’s Mom character gets the flu. Grandmom is visiting. So she marches Jaime upstairs to get well. The episode goes on, Jaime gets well but pretends that she’s still illing so she can take a break. In her sick bed she doesn’t have to worry about cleaning the house, taking care of her children or working. She wants to milk it for all it’s worth. For a short period, she has the life of a kitty.
This morning, I also had a kitty’s life. I’m fighting off something (cold or flu, I’m not sure). I got to sleep in while M took care of Baby A. I even got to take a nap while they went for a walk to get me chicken soup. So I spent the morning in bed with Pumpkin pictured above. She spend each day sleeping on my bed with the only worry being whether Baby A will climb up and bother her. This was my only worry today, too.
Life has been off since G. was admitted to the hospital. Plans have been thrown up into the air and every action has been based on the next test, the next surgery, etc. But amidst all this strange uncertainty, I’ve caught glimpses of solitude.
Most parents of young children know the ever-presence of their son or daughter. Since Baby A was born I can count the amount of times that I have been separated from him. As I was making my dinner tonight at my mom and G.’s home (awaiting word from the hospital and caring for their dog), it hit me. I’m alone. It is one of those rare occassions where I am by myself.
In adverently, I’m almost living a scene out of the book “Three Junes” by Julia Glass. One of the characters gets a hotel room on a regular basis so that she can be alone and read a book. Basically, she steals away from her children, her responsibilities and her spouse. While I’m sitting at this computer in my mom’s den, I miss my child, my husband and my kitties. I still have my responsilibities. But for a fleeting moment tonight, I felt that G.’s illness had stolen me away to a place where I could do anything I wanted without interruption of responsibility or courtesy or attention.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am no stranger to waking up early. Since we’ve moved back to Los Angeles though, Baby A wakes me up. No more. Today I start my being-productive-while-you-sleep mornings. Now that A is older and M needs to be at work earlier, I need mornings to be my time: my time to write, my time to work, my time to read.
I came to this conclusion of repurposing the way I approached my mornings when I was staying up too late and not spending time with M. By the time the baby is in bed I don’t feel like working (though I should). Instead I want to enjoy the little time each day we have together, but can’t because I’m worrying about what I need to be doing. The cycle ends today.
The house is still. The streets are quiet. My tea is ready. I am awake and ready for my day to begin. It’s a good thing I’ve always been a morning person.
As an only child, there are things about me that I know are not necessarily well suited for mommyhood. For instance, I need to have complete alone time at least once a day or else I get grumpy. It doesn’t have to be long; however, 30 minutes would happen in a perfect world. But when you’re a mom of a pre-toddler, you can’t even go to the bathroom without a little someone crawling in. Normally, I do get some time. However this past week hasn’t really been conducive for that to happen so when the chance to take a walk all by my lonesome presented itself I jumped at it.
What was supposed to be a quick jaunt to the grocery store turn into an hour long meander through Westwood Village. No stroller in tow. No husband to share it with. No email or phone calls that needed to be sent, answered or made. First, I got a coffee then I went to the grocery store. From there I took the long way around and ended up at a boutique I used to shop at frequently, Monica’s on Broxton. There I browsed for a while. (There are two things that I’m thinking about.) Basically, I just wandered. I didn’t think about anything of importance but just walked where my feet took me.
Eventually, I made my way home and now that I’m here I miss the wanderer.
[Title Note: These are the words to the song I sing to Baby A as we go to change into is PJs. It’s a take on a Family Guy skit.]
There are days when I love spending the entire day in my pajamas. A post at Confessions of a Mean Mommy made me realize that now that Baby A is around I may enjoy those days more. Denise Schipani talks about having extra pajama time with her sons during summer mornings. In my world, any time is pajama time. If we aren’t going somewhere, Baby A and I may never change out of our night clothes. (He’s usually happier on these days because he hates getting dressed and undressed.)
But before him, my pajama days were spent in bed reading and watching crappy television. Granted, there are times when I miss this alone time, but with Baby A in the picture pj day is different. Better.
With him I play games all day, watch PBS Kids (Sid the Science Kid, Curious George and Sesame Street are some of our favorites) and nap. It’s wonderful when the whole day is a pajama party. I think we need to have another one soon.