A new baby in our house...Ok I will admit I had this romantic idea that he would be this sweet bundle of love and cuddles and birdies would help me hang my laundry, I would tidy up while he giggled and coo'd in his cradle, I would wear him in a sling while I planted my garden and painted in my studio...
Babies are a lot of work (if you are 19 or 47) they are just a 24 hour a day job. It happens to be the best job in the world, it is difficult and messy and somedays you forget who you are but there is nothing that has filled me up so much, made me feel as important, whole, good as waking up to a little milk-dud with fuzzy hair and a warm diaper, I am just one of those women. I love to be pregnant even though I am usually throwing up the whole nine months. I love breastfeeding, even though it limits what I can do and where I can go. I love watching my babies sleep, even when they are thirteen and have hairy legs and are 6 feet tall.
Today was the same day as yesterday and there might be some subtle variation but I expect tomorrow will be the same as today. For those of you who wonder what a stay-at-home mom does on a typical day here ya go.
I get up at 6am, It is my personal internal alarm clock that wakes me. I use to wake at 5am before the baby to write but I am a little bit sleepier because I get up at 3 and 5 to nurse the baby.
I begin by picking up last nights mess. I am the first to bed at night so the house gets tossed about while I am sleeping. I will pick up shoes, dishes, a towel, homework, an empty popcorn bowl, a book, a game, a jacket or two, car keys, etc. I fold the sofa blanket, put the pillows back, throw a load of laundry in and try to unload the dishwasher.
At 7am I wake up Noah and change Elliott's diaper, he is usually awake by 6:45, usually smiling, wet, and in need of some serious good morning cuddles. I tell him how handsome he is, that we are going to have an awesome day, I kiss his cheeks and feet, read him a story and then we get into the kitchen. I put him in his chair and give him treats to nibble on (cereal, banana's, mango) while I make Noah's lunch and finish the dishes.
Insert: I have not dressed or brushed my teeth yet.
Steve drives Noah to school after a little game of "do you have your homework, your lunch, your gym shoes?"
At 9am Steve goes to work and I nurse the mouse, he takes a 10 minute morning nap which isn't really a nap but a little fake-out, he needs to be held while he fills his tummy with milk, he wants to close his eyes while I kiss his hands and count his toes, it is his sweet time.
9:10 am I put him in his bouncy seat outside so I can water the garden and pull some weeds, if he is in a good mood I might hang some laundry. Then we come in and I let him play on his matt while I clean up the breakfast/lunch making mess. There are always more chores to do than I can get to so I try and do one big thing a day like wipe down the cupboards, clean out the frig, change the sheets on the beds, clean the bathrooms, that kind of thing. I don't always get it done but I try.
By 10:00 he is ready for a nap, not a long one but a short morning nap, more nursing, fussing playing, wiggling, then he is out for a good 20 minutes. He wants to be held, if I put him down he will wake up and be grouchy. I usually have my laptop next to me so I will answer emails, pay bills, check in with facebook (it is almost like being around people) and read a little news if I have time.
10:30 we play on his matt, do tricks, read stories, change his diaper, I take him from room to room and pick up where I can. We might sit out on the grass and watch cars go by, I trim his nails, fold clothes, feed him lunch (cereal, fruit, steamed veggies, pasta) he nibbles, doesn't eat much but loves to make a big mess, I let him, it's how he learns, he is a little explorer and it's a messy job. I try to eat with him, I am usually rushed and eat crappy carbs or left overs, I eat too much because I skipped breakfast, and because I am sorta just eating without thinking, trying to keep it easy for myself.
I give him a bath, I might get in the tub with him and wash my hair, he loves this, I do too. I like to lay in a tub full of super hot water, some lavender, a good book, get all drowsy...a bath with a 7 month old is not the same. His bath is 5 inches of barely warm enough water and often more floaty toys than water. He will splash and babble, I will lather him up with baby soap sing him silly songs. I get out first, then pop him out. I drip and freeze while I get him dried off and dressed before he gets chilled. He usually cries through this process because he hates to get dressed and he is ready for nursing and a nap and does not want to be bothered with diapers, t-shirts that need to be snapped and legs that need to be shoved into baby yoga pants.
12:00 nurse the baby then down for the big nap. He will sleep about an hour but I need to nurse him until he is good and traveled to dreamland or he will wake up and be crabby. That usually gives me about 30 minutes to get dressed, brush my teeth, and throw a load of laundry in and maybe tackle a chore.
1:00 we go to the store for groceries, to the bank, get the car smogged, drop off stuff at goodwill, go to the post office, the hardware store, get new tires, get the car washed, stuff like that, what ever needs doing.
We have to pick Noah up from school at 3pm, two days a week we have a carpool so the car is full of other teenagers who come to our house to do homework, eat dinner with us, then I take them to rehearsals. In exchange Noah gets a ride home from rehearsals two days a week. On the other days we come home, Noah does homework before rehearsals, I make dinner, Elliott will sit in his chair or play with toys or fuss and cry, usually all of the above. He hates the car so it is pure torture for him all the way up and back, usually a whole lot of crying.
Back at home I nurse Elliott, he falls asleep for about 20 minutes, he wants to be held. I might read or write in my journal with him on my lap. Steve is home, he has tennis, or work, or watches sports, he might do a chore, take a nap, eat dinner. Elliott will hang out with Steve for about 30 minutes, they will play, he loves Steve.
I usually take him to the park at 7pm because the sun is just going down, it is still a little warm out, there are kids at the park, it is the time I use to go walking before the baby, I like that time of night. I take him to the baby swing, let him look around, watch kids, then we go home.
By 8:30 he is washed up, pajamas on and nursing again. He nurses a lot, it is good for him and I don't mind it's just time consuming not a lot of multi-tasking can happen.
Noah comes home, finishes homework and everyone else in in bed by 10pm.
Each day so like the other they all seem to blend into one long, long, long day until months have gone by and you don't know how. There are days when everything is upside down because so many other things have to get squeezed in.
Right now I am trying to get the house organized (because I didn't do it before the baby came, thought I had another 4 weeks). I am trying to close my business and move my studio ( didn't think I was closing before Elliott came, thought he would go to work with me). We have to baby proof, replace our garden beds, cut down and replant a big tree, build a fence around the pool, we had to some wiring and wall repair in the living room that lead to painting a wall, moving furniture. We had Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, my mothers illness and death. Noah has had four plays and a dozen performances, school functions, dentist appointments, dances. Elliott had two hospitalizations, well baby exams, we had whooping cough.
It has been busy, scary, fun, exhausting, good.
Tonight I am up late because I want to record this, remember this. Someday I will wish I could do this again, be sad that I can't and I want to remember how hard it was, how lonely and bored I got, but most I want to remember that I had this and I did it well and it was really wonderful.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I took Elliott to lunch today, just the two of us, we shared brown rice topped with stir fried veggies and tofu. I let him have sips of my green tea and he shared all his teething toys with me. I am in love with this boy.
What is it like to be the mama of a 7 month old when you yourself are 47? Pretty friggin' fantastic. I won't lie part of me knew I was too old to be having a baby, not because I felt "old" but because I knew old was coming, and it is a train you can not stop.
My grandmother was 46 when I was born. I have an old black and white photo of her holding me out in front of her barn-house on San Fernando Street, her hair was still thick and black, she was short and stocky, big breasted, shiny face and a long nose like mine. She held me less like a precious package and more like a loaf of bread, didn't want to squeeze me too hard by knew she couldn't break me. She is smiling in the picture, so am I. I am bald and fair skinned, small, happy, comfortable in her arms.
My gram was my gram and to me she was always "old"mostly because I had a young mom, just 19 years older than me and my aunts and uncles were young so were my cousins. Looking back now I see that she wasn't old at all and what I would do to go back and time and have a good talk with her at that age...
I wonder if Elliott will see me as old? Will he be resentful that I won't be pretty and perky, that I will have long given up trying to look like a 30 year old? Will he be creeped out by the grey hair that is taking over, by the extra wrinkles around my eyes and around my mouth? Will I be menopause crazy, hormonal and weepy instead of Premenstral crazy, hormonal and weepy, is there a difference? Poor guy.
Will I hit some wall people hit and start forgetting where I put things, tell the same stories over and over, wear ugly shoes, say things like "thats a fine how-do-you-do" Will he be embarrassed? God I hope not. Will I start falling apart, getting sick, need to wear pajamas in the day time? Will the house smell like soup and over ripe bananas, will I offer his friends stale cookies, will I wear glasses that make my eyes look even bigger than they already are?
These are things I can't know, what I do know is that today he is an infant that just started saying Mamamamama...to me, to the dog, to Steve, and to the fish at the pediatricians office, it is still the most beautiful word in the world to me. He is happy, I am happy. I go to bed when he does and we wake up before the sun, lay in bed and nurse, I tell him sleepy stories about what kind of magical day we are going to have. We will find an elephant in the back yard, grow a cupcake tree, throw all the shoes in the house away, buy a rocket ship and go to mars and eat puffy rice snacks.
I don't regret this choice, not today, not when I have this boy in my arms and he fills me up with hope and love and dreams for him. I look forward to each new day and what new thing it will bring; sitting up without a pillow, tasting avocado, touching my face while he nurses, watching little birds in our tree fly down and drink from our fountain.
What is it like to be an old mama? Like it was being a young one only better. When you are young you are distracted, time doesn't mean as much to you because it seems like you will always have more of it than you need. Today I know there is never enough time, and children can die of cancer, and there can't be anymore babies, and someday this will all be over and feel like a blink of an eye, so I hold onto every precious moment, I don't let my day go easily, I am grateful for everyone of them and make them last, savor the way it unfolds.
Now that my mom is gone I feel like time is moving faster for me. She died young, in my family women live forever it seems, we don't age well but we spend a long time being old mean and ugly. I can't die in my 60's Elliott will still need me, I can't get sick or be too mean or ugly because it won't be fair to him.
I don't worry about fitting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, how I will schedule in the gym, a pedicure or some well earned "me" time. I think about keeping my body strong, my mind young and maybe in a couple years getting my eyes done so they won't get lost behind the saggy lids I am sure to inherit from my father. I stress out about saving for college, having life insurance, keeping my heart healthy.
It is easy to love this little boy, to get lost playing with him for hours. It is easy to breastfeed, to know when to introduce solid foods, where to look for a first tooth. I don't worry about when he will crawl or walk, he will do it when he is ready. I don't wonder when he pooped last, his body knows what to do. I know what to do for a cold, a diaper rash, colic. He falls asleep when he is tired, and he wakes up when he isn't anymore. I wear him, he sleeps next to me, and I don't care what anyone calls it or thinks about it, I am way over that. I have learned to trust my instincts.
The hard part is being afraid that one day he will look at me and ask me why I am so old, why I waited so long, that he will be hurting because I am gone and he still needs a mom. I hate thinking that someday he will have to take care of me.
Most days I just enjoy this, I have no regrets, and some part of me feels like it is all going to be just fine.
I love this part of life, it's hard work, but it completes me and it doesn't matter how old I am.