Babies. The beginning is almost too easy, if you’re lucky: the little critters sleep for, like, 20 hours a day, for crying out loud. Feed them, burp them, change them, wrap them up like little burritos, and let them do their thing, which pretty much involves a whole lot of nothing besides a few rudimentary bodily functions. Your job is simple: keep the kid alive, keep yourself fed and watered.
My daughter was born when the hydrangeas in my mother’s garden were in full bloom. My days were a blur of tiny pink onesies, sleepless nights, endless feeding sessions in front of the entire series of Breaking Bad (and True Blood and Game of Thrones), FaceTime chats with my husband, who was away in San Antonio with the National Guard, and naps. So many naps. All of the naps. Endless, blissful naps.
It’s getting more complicated now – exponentially so. And I have a feeling I have no idea what I’m in for, either. Do you know they have the term “Pre-Tween” now? When does that start exactly – next week?
My infant is eight months old now. She’s babbling and sitting up by herself, eating pureed sweet potatoes and peaches and letting me know she doesn’t like the latter by clamping her mouth shut and turning her face away from the spoon. Between my husband and I, it’s no surprise this little girl has an iron will. But I like that her personality is beginning to reach its way through those cute little fat folds and toothless gums. My newborn isn’t a newborn anymore.
My daughter wants to play, to communicate; she grabs for things. She sits on the couch while I’m trying to work and gabs at me. She doesn’t ever want to sleep ever ever and sometimes wants to breastfeed all day every day, and sometimes cannot be bothered, and prefers peas. PEAS to me. She sometimes favors her father’s touch (which at once breaks my heart and puffs it up beyond measure), and she has learned during nap time how to reach her tiny little hand through the bars of the crib to make sure the falling binky makes maximum impact on the floor and gets our attention so we come in, replace it, soothe her, pick her up, rock her, wind up her music box, and all other things that she knows now will delay sleep for one minute longer.
She is now a tiny human. And I admit that the transition from “New Mom” to just “Mom” has been an extremely difficult one for me. I have a master’s degree, twenty years’ experience working outside the home, I’ve lived on three continents, speak multiple languages, and my daily accomplishments these days sometimes don’t even approach successfully roasting and pureeing four measely yams.
- roast yams
- puree yams
- open up cabinet and let huge can of green beans fall into bowl of pureed yams
- scrape yam puree from ceiling
- scrape yam puree from countertop and and cabinetry
- scrape yam puree from baby’s eyeball
- feed baby minuscule amount of uncontaminated yam puree left in bowl
New motherhood is a warm blanket. People coddle you; you coddle your child. Casseroles are left at your door and you are showered with accolades if you actually manage to shower. Now real life has crept in: the balloons I received when she was born started to look silly on the bureau in her room. I finally threw them away. Trips to the grocery store are made without fanfare. Diapers are changed, carrots are spat out all over me, the bib, and the floor, and the dirty laundry miraculously multiplies like so many loaves and fishes in a small white basket in my daughter’s room.
I’d like to say I’m not second-guessing my decision to stay home with my child. I’d like to say that witnessing her tiny triumphs each day completely fulfills me, but to be honest, it doesn’t. It’s really hard. And it’s really boring. I didn’t expect that. My former boss was a complete asshole who lied, took shortcuts that created hours upon hours of extra work in order to fix, and undermined me every chance he got. At least he didn’t throw up all over me and scream at me for hours at a time. My daughter pooped right in front of me the other day. Lying on the changing table, completely naked, she stared at me right in the eyeball as she curled one out. There is no HR department here with which to lodge a complaint. There is, however, a very understanding husband and a glass of wine waiting for me at the end of each day, and a round of Quizzo once a week with my friends out at the Locust Rendezvous.
I am not the victim of the choice I made. I know that I am privileged to have had the chance to stay at home with my child for these precious few early months. It’s just that, now that those tiny onesies are now stowed away in vacuum bags under my bed, now that the bassinette is disassembled, and now that I no longer have an excuse to wear yoga pants each and every day, I’m beginning to feel that maybe a new balance is in order. Perhaps I’d better serve my daughter by at least spending time away from her, exposing her to different environments, different people, and a wider array of germs.
Who knows? These are just some thoughts I’m having today, as I procrastinate making a puree of prunes. I just really, really want it to turn out differently than the yams.