Staying at home with my kids means I’m there through everything. Every smile, every hug, every “first.” That also means I witness every tantrum, every skipped nap, the monotony, and I can’t forget the body fluids. Oh, the body fluids. We may live on a university campus, but I think even our neighbors would be shocked by the amount of body fluids going on in here every day. I’m sure any parent who stays at home would agree that parenting in the trenches 24/7 can get really hard sometimes.
When I found out I was going to be a mother, I had just moved to a new state with Hubster for our graduate programs. I had a five-year plan and having a baby wasn’t on the list. The shock was immediate, quickly followed by hyperemesis which required me to drop out of grad school. There I was – extremely ill, jobless, a grad school dropout, about to become a mother at the age of 23.
There are some days that I really wouldn’t mind going back to work outside of the home. I do miss working in higher education sometimes, and when I have a particularly challenging day with C, the thought of going back seems very attractive.
Then I have moments with him when he’s very cuddly or he sees me from across the room and runs up to me saying, “Mama!” I love when he says a new word or his eyes dance when I read him a story. It makes me laugh when his favorite song comes on and he starts bobbing his head and dancing. When he sees a dog on TV, he says “woof woof!”
So yesterday was one of THOSE days. You know, the ones that make you want to run for the hills.
Or in this case, it made me want to run back to one of those cushy office jobs that I used to have. Where I spoke with ADULTS all day and didn’t have to constantly pull a climbing toddler off of the furniture.
I usually take the path less traveled, and my journey to motherhood was no different. If you’re not familiar with my story, I’ll give you the abridged version. In July 2010, I was told I had PCOS (polycystic ovaries) and it would be difficult for me to conceive children. In August, I started graduate school and a graduate assistantship only to find out a week later that – surprise! – I was pregnant. I ended up with hyperemesis and was so ill that I could hardly leave our apartment. In early October, I was forced to withdraw from graduate school, thereby losing my job as well. I spent the majority of April 2011 experiencing false labor, and then after 2.5 hours of pushing I ended up with an emergency c-section on April 29. A long, slow spiral into postpartum depression ensued, but wasn’t diagnosed until December 2011.
Hubster gave me a Swiffer Wet Jet for my birthday. Why, you ask? I asked for it.
No, I literally asked for a Swiffer Wet Jet. I like clean floors.
I also received a cute little stainless steel trash can, a fantastic OXO salad spinner and an Everlast tower punching bag. Yeah, so that last one isn’t very domestic but I do love to box.
We’ve all seen supermom. She effortlessly drives around town in her minivan, escorting her children to all of their extracurricular activities. Dressed in school colors, she claps wildly at her kids’ sporting events. She bakes elaborate snacks and her house is always spotless. She has time to do her hair every morning and never wears yoga pants unless she’s working out.
I suppose that when you’re a stay-at-home mom and your child is staying with his grandparents for the week, you can consider it a vacation right?!
Well, I guess I’m on vacation! After visiting my parents last weekend, we decided to leave C with them for the week since I was planning on coming back next weekend. They get time to bond with C and I get some time to myself. It’s a win-win, really.
It’s been quite a day. Quite. A. Day.
In addition to his cold, C was having a bad teething day today. I don’t understand why I’m so tired, because we didn’t even leave home today. I think it’s emotional exhaustion and frustration. When C wasn’t whining, he was screaming. The only time that he was quiet was when I went against one of my fundamental parenting philosophies – we cuddled up in the bed and watched television. Don’t judge me! A mother needs a little silence! It’s not like I can just leave the room to get some peace when we live in a one-bedroom apartment. Maybe it’s okay to do that if the alternative is losing your mind? *sigh*
I’m pretty impressed with myself. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you!
C and I were both clean, dressed, and out the door by 8:40 this morning so that we could attend our first MOPS meeting! MOPS is short for Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers (birth to kindergarten). C hung out in the NURSERY for the first time ever. I was a little nervous about it, because we’ve never left him with anyone except family. But, when I got to the room and there were 3 or 4 other babies screaming their little lungs out, I knew that he’d be just fine.
Over the past week, someone said to me that they’d love to be able to “just” stay at home with their kids. (They emphasized the “just.” This person did not have children.) Inwardly, I was outraged that this person thought that life at home with children was so easy. Outwardly, all I could do was smile politely at their ignorance.
Every time C takes a nap in the afternoon, I never know how long he’s going to sleep. The first things I get done are the essentials – pumping, washing bottles, laundry. If he’s still sleeping, I check my email, Twitter, Facebook. If he’s still sleeping, I start to think about the things I need to do that take more time – work, cleaning the counter, filing the stack of papers on the desk. By the time I get to that point, I’m always afraid to get started on those projects. I think he’ll wake up as soon as I begin.
I totally am rocking at homemaking so far today! I’m so proud Woke up at 10 (okay, so it was a bit late, but I’ve been SO tired lately!), started laundry, cleaned the bathroom, replied to emails, did the dishes, vacuumed and dusted all within two hours. BAM!
Yesterday I did some research that many moms-to-be likely do: how much will daycare cost if I go back to work once the baby is born?
Unlike some moms-to-be, I don’t currently have a job that I can go back to after maternity leave. I lost my job as a by-product of my miserable morning sickness for the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy. As a graduate assistant, I had to keep six credits of classes in order to keep my job. Too sick with the dry heaves and intense nausea to sit through class, I had to drop two of my three classes due to attendance policies. I couldn’t keep my job. It was a very tough thing to have to withdraw from school and lose my job, but I’m so relieved now in retrospect. There was no way I could have kept up with it all. Trying to stay healthy during that period of time was a job in itself. Looking forward to my third trimester, I can’t imagine having to waddle across campus to my old office. It was really far away.
Now that I’m jobless and going to be home every day, there are a few things that I want to vow to keep doing. I don’t want to be one of those people who lose their sense of purpose and stops taking care of simple hygiene.
- Shower after having my first meal (always have to eat as soon as I wake up to keep morning sickness at bay).
- Wear regular clothes, not resort to lounge pants and hoodies on a daily basis.
- Put my makeup on.
- Make the bed. This is something that I didn’t do on a daily basis when I had to get to work, so I want to start!
- Open the blinds to let natural light in.
Some things that I’m relieved to finally have some time to get done: