Some days are those SuperMom kind of days. You know? We both get plenty of sleep, and I manage to wake up before NewDotBaby does and take a shower, get dressed in grownup clothes, and even read my devotional book. When he wakes up, we start a pot of coffee, watch some morning news while we nurse, and then the TV is turned off. We read stories, sing songs with the motions, and play together. I narrate everything we do, and you can practically see those little synapses and neurons firing and lengthening and multiplying (or whatever they do). NDB takes a perfect 2-hour morning nap, during which I finish all the housework on the to-do list. When he wakes up, we go out and accomplish all our errands, without losing anything, forgetting anything, or having car troubles. We get home just in time for NDB’s 2-hour afternoon nap, during which I get to relax with a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee and watch my Tivo’d shows and browse the blogs I love and generally just relax. I hear him cooing and babbling to himself when he wakes up, and we spend our afternoon playing and practicing standing and walking and imitating sounds. NewDotDad gets home from the hospital at a decent hour, we eat dinner together and laugh and marvel at NDB’s self-feeding progress. NDD handles bathtime while I return the kitchen to it’s gleaming state of neatness, and then I read NDB his Bible story, rock and nurse, and he goes to sleep without a whimper of protest.
Other days are those SlothMom kind of days. You know about those, too, right? These are the days that we start the day exhausted, with me dragging out of bed to the sounds of NDB fussing in his crib. He is usually poopy and wet and not too happy with the situation, so I have to clean up a na-a-a-a-sty diaper with about half a brain. We are out of coffee, so I snap open a Diet Coke and head into the living room to nurse. Then instead of rousing engaging play, I plop NDB down on the rug with his gazillion toys and curl up on the couch to watch the morning news, the two chipper talkshow celebs after that, and the four irritating women after that. And maybe something from the TiVo. I talk to NDB, I wave at him and play peekaboo, but my butt stays mainly on the couch. When I put him down for his morning nap, I realize I am still in my own pajamas. I decide to forego the shower, put my hair in a messy ponytail, and throw on yesterday’s jeans and one of NDD’s Tshirts. Even on my sloth days, I have a minimum: the kitchen has to stay clean enough for food prep and consumption, so I usually manage to corral a few dishes. NDB wakes up after a too-short 45 minutes, and I am at a loss for what to do with him for the next two hours. Out comes a baby something-or-other DVD, then the swing, then we take a midday bath (he loves those freakin’ duckies). Suddenly I realize I should have fed him lunch an hour ago, so I scramble to put together a semi-balanced, non-choking-inducing finger food meal. At some point he renews his interest in the cable cords that wind their way around the edges of the living room wall and I spend what feels like f-o-r-e-v-e-r telling him No! and pulling him away from the cords and putting him back near his toys. Lather, rinse, repeat. Finally it’s time for the afternoon nap! But the Nap Gods are angry at me and the NDB spends at least 30 minutes standing up, fussing, crying, and then wailing (at which point I come in, lay him back down, whisper soothing words, pat his back, and try not to cry myself). He finally passes out from sheer exhaustion, and I go back to my room – where the bed is still unmade and my pajamas are in a heap on the floor – and I lay down “just to rest my eyes for a minute.” I wake up when I hear him crying out for me, and realize I just wasted his whole naptime. There is nothing ready to cook for dinner, and you know what? I don’t want to cook for dinner. NDD won’t be home tonight – he’s either on call, or on a busy rotation that keeps him at the hospital until 10:00 pm routinely – so why bother? After a little more benign neglect on the living room toy rug, I feed NDB and make myself a peanut butter sandwich. We already did bathtime, so NDB gets a post-dinner rinse and pat dry. I rush him into his room for an early bedtime because I am out of ideas, here, people! Then I collapse on the couch and look around at the tornado that has apparently just struck my house. Where did this come from?
Not every day is one of those extremes, though. Most days lie somewhere in between the two. I get dressed – but not until 2:00. I play and sing and romp with NDB, but I also give him some time to entertain himself while I sit and read or catch up on blogging. I manage two good meals for him, and I thank Gerber for creating those Puffs for the third.
The thing is, I really beat up on myself for anything less than the SuperMom days. I hesitate to tell my husband the unvarnished trush about the sub-par days; I don’t ask my mom how she handled her SlothMom days (partly because I don’t remember her ever having any, and partly because asking that question would reveal that I have them). Prior to NewDotBaby’s arrival, I was one of those uber-organized women. My house was always in fantastic shape, and with two working/schooling adults it was easy to keep it that way. I cooked most nights of the week, and I even cooked to stock the freezer. I keep my DVDs in alphabetical order, for Pete’s sake!
When they say “having a baby changes everything,” they mean it. My time is not my own anymore. I share it with a tiny creature who is not always kind in his demands on me. I shape my waking hours around his needs, and I find that the hours “left over” for me aren’t always enough.
I’ve tried to be introspective about this. I have a sense that if I could only pinpoint what makes those SuperMom Days so Super, I could prevent myself from having those SlothMom days. But I’m not sure what makes one so different from the other. Certainly my amount of sleep the night before is a factor. My own physical condition – if I’m sick, or if I’m having one of these awful postpartum periods, I seem to have more SlothMom days – plays into it. Too many days without the help of NewDotDad seems to be part of the equation, too (some of these residency months have been harder than others, in terms of the amount of time they require him to be at the hospital). Other than that, it seems hard to nail down. I do have days when I’m running on sleep fumes, I feel worn down and PMSy, and NDD is working his 72nd hour in a row, but I manage to pull it off and get everything done. Then there are days when NDD is off work, the NDB only woke up once for a speedyquick nursing, and I’ve never felt better, but the day goes speeding by in a handbasket with one destination. My conclusion is that perhaps this continuum of days, from excellent to exhausted, is a normal experience. I’m going to try to give myself a little slack on the bad days, and not tie my own self-worth to the list of tasks accomplished on the good days.
After all, when it’s all said and done, there is no giant tote board in the sky with a tally of Super Vs. Sloth. As long as I’m making the most of each day by loving the people around me (especially this tiny guy who is such a dictator right now) and honoring God, then every day is a good day.