Thursday, February 11, 2010

An alarming new trend

Jack has decided he no longer needs to nap. I am beside myself. I know I shouldn't complain, because he sleeps thirteen hours a night straight through. But I am alone with him for ten hours every day, snowed in, unable to go anywhere anyway because I have no car, and most of the day is spent following him as he crawls around and stopping him right before he puts something electrical/poisonous/small enough to choke on in his mouth. I think I might be going a little bit crazy.

After two or three hours I have taken to putting him in his high chair and feeding him puffs, one by one, while I surf the net. This lasts about a half hour. Later, I fill a box full of stuff and he takes it all out. Then we do it again. And again. This lasts maybe another half hour before he is tired of it. After that I put him in his pack and play with some musical-lighty up toys. I can get ten minutes out of that before he pulls himself up, bites the side, and proceeds to wail.

Five or six hours in I might try to watch a little television on the DVR. I sit him on the couch with me and give him toys to bang together. Sometimes I make it through a whole program. Most of the time I don't. How many hours to go now?

Yesterday I put him in the ergo and walked to the library because my brain was slowly melting. It was blizzarding. I had to squeeze my eyes shut because the snow was blowing in my face so hard. Don't worry, Jack was under about a thousand layers so he was snug and warm. My face almost fell off but my brain firmed up again. It was so worth it. Two hours passed that way.

The sad thing is I spend most of my day trying to keep my precious, beloved baby occupied so I don't have to pay attention to him. The lack of any time to think, to write, to do anything that reminds me of who I am means that our time together, all of it, is spent in a haze of me just trying to get through it. By the time David gets home, I hand Jack to him and crawl into bed for an hour. When I get up, the baby is fed and sleeping, the house that over the course of the day had become an embarrassing mess has been picked up, and David is more often than not cooking dinner.

I am so lucky. I know this! I am so lucky. But still. Is it awful that I wish I had less time with Jack, so that I could be renewed and alive enough to be able to give myself completely to him in the time we do have? Quality over quantity? I know one day, when he is grown (he grows so fast!), I will look back on these days and long for them. But right now I just feel like half of a person.

Wow, just read over this. It's unbelievably whiny. And it started out all lighthearted! Clearly there are some deeper emotions going on there. I know I am not unique among women in the way that I feel, but I can't help but wonder sometimes if I am missing some all-important mommy gene that makes women love every waking second with their babies. Because I don't. And it pains me to admit it.


Wendy said...

Okay I do think we really are becoming friends. Yes. To all of it. Except my baby is two. And the part about your husband making dinner while you sleep. Bean has given up naps so I started her in preschool thinking that yes it would be good for her and yes I'd get that nap time back except I could go to pilates while I'm at it. And she got the plague. And I got the plague too. And she cries whenever I talk about school. Separation is a bitch.

I would have a babysitter arrested who slept on the floor while my daughter played in circles around her. I can't count the number of times I've done that.

I used to call the "put a bunch of stuff in a box and let him take it out" over and over again, playing "Easter Basket."

All this to say. This is hard. And far more complicated than I imagined. If you are even a mildly thoughtful person. xoxo

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear Bex. Oh I know how you feel. And I I'll sum it up with this question: Why do you think I feel so damn liberated when I'm at work? Yes, going back to work saved my sanity.

I think it must get easier with subsequent children because they occupy each other, but the repetition and inanity of young kids is very boring indeed. It doesn't mean you love them any less though.

Last winter when we were still in Kiev, we went walking everyday for at least three hours. On the off chance the sprog fell asleep, I'd pack my little laptop underneath and sneak into the cafe for quick online time and a coffee before she woke up 30 minutes later... !!

It's a testament to your love that you're there for the boring games, day in, day out!

Annje said...

There is a post I love that I'll link here:
I too feel like I spend much of the day trying to carve out moments for myself. Days are a blur of fixing for meals, cleaning after meals, dressing, diapers, nap prep, time-outs, teeth-brushing, nose-wiping... Some days we do fine and have fun, others I lose my patience every 5 minutes and want to scratch my eyes out.

I have two and am staying home full time with them right now. I do feel much better when I am working, but there is endless guilt, especially when they are so little. My baby is almost 2 and so can play with his older sister-4- which makes it a little easier. They are also old enough that we can go do things (park, jumping gym). There are moments that I DO love and cherish, but I honestly don't know if I will miss these days--(it's exhausting), I love when they start entertaining themselves a little more... of course, it is hard to say it gets easier, though it does in some ways, but it gets harder in others too (...enter discipline).

I am trying to remember how old Jack is, but as for the nap, it may just be a phase--teething, or something. I might just insist on putting him down as usual every day, with a few toys and see if he can work it out.

Marie-Ève said...

Oh, I sympathize... I loved my long mat leave but also felt a little bored and lonely and like there was something missing (I guess I was lucky, it was the spring/summer/fall, so no blizzard walks to the library. Plenty of other walks to the library and trips to the grocery store, though).

Except for the first three months, I never remember LP napping for more than say, 20 minutes, also. Which would give me time to jump in the shower, then wolf down something cold while standing against the countertop, before he would wake up screaming. I really hope it's just a phase for Jack...

I think you shouldn't put yourself down for this. Plenty of (great) mothers feel this way, and I appreciate your honesty.

Annje said...

I am glad you liked the link. I found it as I was writing about one of my own struggles in this post...

It is not nearly as poetic ;-) anymommy's post made me cry too and go hug my kids and try try try to be more loving, even when I don't feel like it. In the end you have to forgive yourself for wanting more time to yourself or having moments of sheer boredom.

mrs.notouching said...

Amen sister. I think every mother can relate to this. I HAVE to schedule activities for every single day to save my sanity.
It got so much easier when she started walking. Now we can go to the playground, library, pet store to stare at lizards, fishes and birds, walk around the mall, local gardens etc, etc. But with us being out so much I rarely make dinner and most of the housework is done over the weekend. And after spending a day alone with Leila my husband understands me perfectly. I HAVE to get out, talk to adults, veg in front of the computer, read or just walk without having to hold anybody's little hand.
This too shall pass... now would be great, but... oh well.

Luise said...

It is so sad to have mums feeling isolated sitting in their house all by themselves - well, with the baby. I am not a mum but can quite understand your struggling. It is kind of common sense, you don't have to have a mum gene to relate, I guess what I mean is: mums should not feel bad about these emotions or sentiments because it seems unprecedented in human history to have mothers isolated like that (since maybe the last 50 years?). What a society! Where are all the other babies, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, neighbors, cousins ... to hang out and share daily life, chitchat and gossip, and cook togehter and help each other? Like "in the old days" - no, like it has always been for most of the thousands of years we exist on that planet. So I suggest a revolution! Can't you meet? Can't you create a network, a movement, a new way of live which resembles the old system? Have you every tried to connect with the other mums in your neighborhood or town - and I don't mean at the playground but call for a real initiative? Whatever, like put an ad on craigslist or facebook and suggest to cook lunch if mums bring their babies... But then I forgot you don't have a car :-( Sorry Bex, I guess you will have to be the hostess!!!

gorillabuns said...

staying home with a kid is not all it's cracked up to be. believe me.

Trista said...

Oh Bex, don't beat yourself up about this, I don't know any moms who haven't felt like this, and often (myself absolutely included). When Abby was born we had to keep her away from many people until she was full term, so that meant 8 weeks of taking aimless walks around our neighbourhood by myself once my husband went back to work. I didn't have a car during the day for the first six months of mat leave, and it was okay in the summer and fall but once the winter hit I felt like a shut-in - so bored and lonely and exhausted and busy all at the same time. And so, so desperate for a break.

When I read "I spend most of my day trying to keep my precious, beloved baby occupied so I don't have to pay attention to him" I knew exactly what you meant, and still do, although it does get better as they get older. My survival tactics have included buying or borrowing any manner of baby apparatus (jolly jumper, exersaucer, etc.) to contain the baby, listening to books on my iPod while I walked her in the stroller because music gets boring and it's not like I had any time to actually read. When she got oled enough I started going to any playgroup/storyhour/swim class I could get to, by any means necessary, and I also begged for visitors. i found a local group of moms online who get together for playdates, and researched the community centres, pools etc. nearby that offered free baby-friendly stuff. Having something planned that got us both out of the house made a huge difference (especially in winter, when walking and going to the park wasn't an option), and tired Abby out so that she would occasionally bless me with a nap.
One of the biggest lessons I'm stil learning is to just stop and play with my kid - sometimes the path of least resistance is the most pleasant one for the both of us.

krista said...

i'm a little late to the post here but i just wanted to add another friendly head nod in your direction. i somehow thought i would finally have all the time to do the creative things i wanted to do once i was home with the baby. turns out nothing got down. i felt accomplished if i took a shower.
it's still a struggle. but i try to treat myself like a paid employee. i'm allowed breaks but my job is first.
some days i don't appreciate my job all that much and i'm probably not very good at it.
but it helps (me, at least) keep it in perspective and it keeps some of the "personal time" resentment at bay.
really, though...
all this means is you are human. and that you care.