Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Parenting, one year in

Apparently I wrote this post back in April, then forgot that I wrote it and recently started a new post that I titled "Parenting at 14 months" (clearly, my post titles are very creative) and then ignored that post, and then just logged back in and found both of them. So I'm just going to publish this one and then maybe update again later? It's funny that this is two months old and already feels out of date. 


Honestly, we were nervous about having a kid. I was particularly worried because I'd spent most of my twenties doing a lot of caregiving for my parents and while I wouldn't have done it any other way it was both emotionally draining and meant that I'd already been trying to balance my career with a fair amount of family leave. I was worried about voluntarily signing up for a lifetime of taking care of another person. We were both worried about upending our lives, about losing all our free time, about never being able to spontaneously go out to a bar with friends on a Wednesday night.

And here we are, one year in, and it's true - having a baby has completely taken over our lives, and we are very tired, but somehow it feels amazing.

She's the center of our world right now, and 90% of our conversations are about her and it isn't boring (to us). We still haven't figured out the babysitter thing so we haven't been out alone in a year, other than sneaking out after bedtime for a couple hours the night before Thanksgiving when my sister was staying with us, and while I'm sure it will be great to have a date at some point it doesn't feel like we're trapped. Once we got bedtime mastered it felt like our world opened up again because we get a couple hours alone in the evening most nights and right now that feels like enough.

I think the hardest part for me is feeling like almost nothing is optional anymore. I always tried to be an adult and make sure that we had a meal plan and laundry and a clean house and we managed most of those things, most of the time. But in the back of my mind there was always an option on any given night (or week, or month) to just let things slide. I could bail on the cooking and the dishes and the laundry and just lie on the couch after work and watch Netflix. In fact, after my dad died, I did that for months. I'm not saying it was healthy, but it was an option.

But the daily life of being a working parent to a baby feels like a treadmill. Our weekdays are so scheduled and there really isn't much room for error.  If I don't do the dishes tonight then there will be twice as many tomorrow and I'll have to stay up late, or D will have to do them in the morning and he'll be late to work. (He usually does the morning dishes and I come home to a clean kitchen and then I do the evening dishes so we have a fresh slate for the morning)

I wake up around 5:30am, shower and start getting ready for work and making coffee. I listen for Adrian because I'll breastfeed her as soon as she wakes up, hopefully right around 6am. D takes over after he showers and I'm out the door between 6:30 and 6:45.

I work until 3 or 4 pm, usually don't take a lunch. If I make it out by 3pm I have one precious hour and I can do a chore (at least one day a week I go grocery shopping) or take a walk outside before I pick up Adrian.

I pick up Adrian between 5 and 5:30pm, depending on traffic, and take her home. We get inside the house, and I usually try to start dinner immediately (pre-heat the oven or start rice) and then I'm going back and forth between playing with her and prepping dinner. If she's having an independent day where she's mostly interested in playing alone then I'll let her do that and I'll take advantage and start putting her lunch dishes in the sink and her daycare clothes in the laundry. If she's having a day where she wants me to focus on her I'll bail on the other chores and play with her on the kitchen floor, and hold her on my hip while I make dinner (my version of "cooking" these days is ridiculously simple because I don't want to count on having any uninterrupted time).

Ideally I have dinner ready between 6 - 6:15pm and we eat together (if D is coming home on time that night I'll just have a small portion as a snack to keep her company).

In the bath between 6:30 - 6:45pm, then pajamas, breastfeeding, a book or two, and into bed by 7pm. She usually falls asleep within minutes after I leave the room.

I go back out and watch her on the monitor to make sure she's settling and then I clean up the house, run Roomba, do the dishes, pack her lunch for the next day. This stage is so hard on clothes that she goes through a couple outfits a day so twice a week we need to do a load of her laundry. I also check back on my work email and deal with anything urgent that came in between 5 and 7pm.

D usually gets home between 7:30 and 8 pm and we eat dinner together, catch up and then he often has a little more work while I get ready for bed.

It sounds like such a grind and sometimes it is. But it's also pretty joyful. She's started getting excited to see me when I pick her up from daycare and that is the sweetest. And there are moments, totally mundane and unimportant, especially when we're all sitting on the kitchen floor on a weekend and the light is coming in and it's warm and I just feel like nothing has ever felt this right in my life.