A friend suggested I post a one-year refelctive piece on being a mom. here, in no particular order, are my thoughts:
My NUMBER ONE observation: At any and every point in the day that you no longer have a child attached to you – take the opportunity to go to the bathroom. You never know how long it will be until the next opportunity – so take this one NOW – even if you don’t think you need it. Really. It is MORE important that sleep or food. Others can feed you, and you can sleep, while you hold the child. No one can pee for you, and holding a child while on the toilet is… possible, but NOT my first, or second, or third choice.
Do NOT feel guilty for sitting around doing nothing. I’ll bet the amount of time that I “do nothing” (watch mindless TV, read a book, stare at my navel) is about 10% of what it used to be. I strongly feel that “doing nothing” is critical to a human being’s sanity. Stay Sane. Take “do nothing” breaks. (See my note on health below.)
Take time to cuddle the OTHER loved ones in your life. I admit to doing poorly at this – I REALLY need to take more personal one-on-one time for my husbands. I *know* I’m getting some of my needs met by cuddling WCB. This should NOT be costing my husbands cuddle time as well. Now the fact that none of us have as much free time – well we’re just going to have to cope with that..
Extra work: WCB hasn’t really had a significant effect on the laundry, in my opinion. But BOY has she increased the dishes! Bother DaddyN and I prefer to wash her bottles by hand – having suspicions of the residue left by our washing machine. But as she is branching out into baby food and solid food, spoons and bowls and covered plates (for daycare) are starting to really fill up the dishwasher. Plus, in an effort to save $ and make sure mom eats, we are creating and eating a lot of leftovers – increasing the storage containers in the dishwasher. Compartatively, WCB has added one extra washload a week, plus a couple of things added to all other loads. oh, and she has JUST started to make real messes on the floor under her high chair.
What new moms/families need is TIME. What I am using extra cash for now is buying TIME – babysitting. I need the new doors painted, the lawn mowed, my kitchen cleaned, my paperwork sorted and filed, my cabinets child-proofed, my cupboards re-arranged…etc. And it costs LESS to pay a babysitter than it does to pay someone to do the other work for me (if they can). I kid you not – I can get baby sitting done for $8-10/hour, and mow my own lawn in 4 hours – $40. Getting someone else to mow my lawn? over $100. Oh sure – one of us can watch her while the other mows the lawn – but that means LESS house/lawn work gets done. A babysitter means ALL of us can get stuff done *at the same time.* We don’t pay someone so we can go to the movies together- we can get Grandma to watch her for that long – we pay for someone to watch WCB while we CLEAN HOUSE for 5 hours.
Your health is critical. Do EVERYTHING you can to stay healthy and in one piece. When Daddy-O hurt his foot, and was told “keep it elevated when possible, keep off it for 6 weeks,” we found that he was almost useless as a caretaker for WCB. he could not be left alone with her because he couldn’t catch her without the high probability of re-injuring his foot. When Daddy N and I both had awful crippling food poisoning for 3 days, and I was breastfeeding, my biggest fear was that I couldn’t take care of WCB (we did have breastfeeding issues – nothing in there!). I tripped over an ottoman yesterday and Uncle Lamont said, “YOU have a one year old child – don’t you DARE break your leg.” Just becasue I’m not pregnant and have stopped breastfeeding doesn’t mean I can stop doing all those important healthy things.
If you have nothing pressing, enjoy your child (and you really don’t have anything very pressing). We were unloading out of the car the other day and WCB stopped to investigate the pea gravel in the drive. I tried to get ther to go into the house – I was eager to start on our after school (daycare) routine: go in, climb stairs, greet dad, mom changes clothes, WCB removes shoes, play/relax and eventually eat dinner – but she resisted going in. I tugged again, she sat down on the gravel. Arms full of stuff to go in the house, I stopped and thought a moment. In truth, despite my anxiety to move on to the next thing on our list, I had nothing pressing. If WCB wanted to learn about rocks – we could learn about rocks. Down the stuff went, and mom too sat on the gravel. WCB learned that you could dump gravel out of your hands, pile it on your feet, throw it at mom (NO), eat it (NO), squash it with bigger rocks, that it had different shapes and colors, and that it was called “rock” (“rock, rock, yes that’s a rock, thank you for the rock, may I have a rock?, NO, don’t throw rocks…”) My job is to “bring up” a child. That can happen anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Every moment is a teachable moment – enjoy them as much as you can.
She is, regularly, a total wonder. The concept that I created this very independant, intelligent, magical being is just fantastical. She is so much her own person, at just one year of age, it seems unimaginable that we “created” her. I feel more that we invited her – that she used to be somewhere else, and now she is here. Our joy, our responsibility, our stress, our love. Whew. My mind just reels.
All in all, I think I’m doing OK as a mom. She is healthy, she’s growning, she’s learning, and she laughs a lot. Others describe her as a cheery child. Despite our continuing sleep sagas, eating traumas, and reluctance to wean from the bottle to cup, we’re doing pretty OK. I’ve bought some new clothes, I’ve dyed my hair, I’ve taken some time for myself – I’m doing OK.
Check with me in another year – at 2 I might have different news. 😉