This morning, we all slept a little bit late, which was good because Carl wake up to nurse four times between 12:30 a.m. and 7. He ate again around 8:30 or so, and then David took him to change his diaper and outfit. Eric was still sound asleep, sprawled beside me in the bed. As David handed me the freshened baby, he said, “Happy Mother’s Day, mother of two!” and we beamed at each other. Eric awoke and sleepily wished us good morning. David lay back down, and we had a big family cuddle.
That was a good start. But we should never have gotten out of bed, because once we did, it turned into the Parenting Day From Hell.
OK, not that bad. But Carl has continued eating every, oh, 90 minutes, and did not consent to take his usual long, deep afternoon sleep in his swing. The long, deep afternoon sleep is usually about the only time our very cuddly baby thinks it’s OK not to be held. Did I mention he didn’t take the long, deep afternoon sleep today? Instead, he spent the day eating. And eating. And eating.
For his part, Eric spent the day fussy and tired, yet despite his own best efforts was unable to fall asleep for his nap until around 5 p.m. David and I, who had each envisioned a day of quiet, happy productivity, have spent the day cuddling, comforting, rocking, and feeding our children, and then, whenever they settle for a few minutes, dashing madly off to, say, the bathroom to pee, or the kitchen for a quick sandwich, or the basement to put the clothes in the dryer. We’ve actually accomplished a lot: I’ve done two loads of laundry; David has done two loads of laundry; David cleaned cat boxes and changed bird cage papers (five bird cages. Big ones. So that’s quite an accomplishment); I ran to the food co-op for a few essentials; I spent a few minutes on the Great Garage Cleanout of 2004 (amazing progress being made there); I wrote my June column for the local LGBTQ newsletter; I loaded the dishwasher. And, thanks to the enforced sitting required of a nursing mom, I’ve read about a hundred pages of a new science fiction novel.
Sometimes, though, I think it’s not the reality of how a day goes that is stressful, it’s the feeling of not being in control of one’s own time. Around 6:30, Eric was sleeping, David had run to the store for a tool he needs to hang new blinds on the window near my computer, Carl had just eaten—again—and was asleep in his swing, and I went into the kitchen to make myself a snack. And I heard Carl start fussing again. “Can’t do it!” I said to myself. “I can’t do this!”
Well, of course I can. I was just feeling petulant because I wanted to be able to fix and eat my snack right then. And I wanted, at some point in the day, more than five consecutive quiet minutes to myself. Say, six whole minutes.
Fortunately, I have a voice in my head that, when I complain too much, says helpful things like, “Su, you didn’t have a second baby because you thought it would get you more quiet alone time!” And I remembered that there are days you have to take a minute at a time: not thinking about how tired I’ll be tomorrow if Carl repeats the All-Night Eat-a-thon but only thinking about taking the fussy baby out of his swing right now, checking his diaper, patting his belly to check for gas bubbles, sitting down to feed him if he’s hungry or cuddle him if he’s not. And I tell myself, “Su, think how great you’ll feel if you can handle this day gracefully!”
So, graceful it is. Eric is up from his nap now, cuddling with David and thinking about what he wants for dinner (“Pasta with parmesan cheese, please,” the request has just come. Getting it is my job). Carl is still sleeping in his swing, the dear boy, and I’m going to get up from the computer and plunge back into the maelstrom of family life with energy and good cheer.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mother of Two.Posted by Su Penn at May 9, 2004 07:39 PM | TrackBack