I’m on day four of my stay-at-home-mama job. I’m not sure how the “boss” would rate me, but I feel like I still have a long way to go on the learning curve. I am still functioning as if I’m just “on vacation” and like I have some deadline to meet. Next week, it will probably all sink in and I’ll find it a bit easier to breathe deep and relax.
Monday, Day 1: A rough day. The first day in probably six months that I didn’t take a shower. Nor brush my teeth – ick. (Side note: That’s quite unlike me, as a shower is one of the most critical tasks of my day. Even after Kaia’s birth – gaping C-section wound and all – I took a shower every single morning. I would tape a plastic bag above my incision so that the water wouldn’t bother the wound and use the hand-held part of the shower to cleanse my weary body. My tender, sweet husband helped me accomplish this task for the first few weeks and never winced at my oozing wound.) So, on Day 1, my house was in shambles, with toys and diapers and food strewn about; dirty dishes stacked in the sink, and random items covering every square inch of counter space. Kaia decided not to adhere to her normal nap schedule (two 1.5 – 2 hour naps) and therefore gave me little respite. I didn’t rest when she did, instead I wandered around the house with my swollen, heavy belly trying to bend over and pick up aforementioned random items from the carpet, which was scattered with leaves and dirt that Kaia had brought in. I took a walk around the block with Kaia and was exhausted before we were done, my heart pumping wildly. Kaia was naked most of the day, refusing clothing and I refused to fight. I stared apathetically as she fed most of her snacks and food to the dog. By the time Jason arrived home from work, I think I was practically comatose on the floor as Kaia whirled about nude in the living room.
Tuesday, Day 2: I had ambition this day; well, ambition for a pregnant woman like me. Kaia played with the water hose for a few hours (in the nude) and I sat on the patio with her, reading my Vegetarian Times. I had even made a pasta dish for lunch, which Kaia adamantly refused to eat. She went down for a nap per her schedule and I had time to relax (I still didn’t sleep like I’d promised myself I’d do). After her second nap, I drew on my ambition and took her to the community pool. We swam, she laughed, and my belly felt so lightweight and perfect in that water. Afterwards, she played in the park (covering herself in sand) and then we hit the store for some grocery shopping. On the way home, I was already exhausted. I had underestimated how much commitment it takes to go on outings such as this with only one child! Everything seemed to take so much energy: toting Kaia on my hip while pregnant, worrying about sunscreen and snacks, juggling a diaper bag and purse and squeaky grocery cart, getting her in and out of the mini-van. I asked the question over and over and feared the answer: Was life harder being pregnant with a toddler or having a newborn and a toddler? Would life become easier once the baby arrives? (The answer from my wise MB, which I had anticipated, was…yes and no). Somehow, I managed to vacuum, pick up toys, do a few loads of laundry, and clean the kitchen. Lemme tell you, though, it literally took me about 2 hours to clean a kitchen that I can normally knock out in half and hour. But Day 2 left me at least feeling like we’d accomplished something together and that maybe I could “cut it” at this SAHM thing. And I showered.
Wednesday, Day 3: A busy day, but still no resting when Kaia napped. I awoke her early from her morning nap and headed out to a local meeting of homebirthers, midwives, doulas, and birth advocates. (I was so proud of myself for packing our bags and loading the car and eating and showering all ahead of time…only to STILL be 25 minutes late!). It was both overwhelming and heartwarming to see a gathering of so many like-minded mamas, many with nursing newborns at their breast and toddlers in tow. A few of my former doula clients were there with their precious babies, glowing with the look of motherhood. As I rubbed my belly, I realized – again – that I’d be that mama again soon. We sat in a circle, shared advice about breastfeeding and slings and wraps and then casually chatted. Kaia was a sweetie, playing with the other toddlers and being gentle around the newborns. Then, we met Jason for lunch and spent some time soaking up the grandeur and wonder of his Daddyness. Finally, I settled into the red leather sofa at MB’s house with her and my lovely Jeanette. The kids – most in some state of undress – had a ball playing outside in the dirt, eating berries, and checking out each other’s butts (yes, this really happens when you get a bunch of naked little girlies together!). MB, Jeanette, and I chomped on some ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies and gabbed. Before we left, Kaia and her two best girlies (Sula and Julianna) joined together in a few group hugs and kisses. It was all I could do not to envision them like my girly trio – MB and Jeanette – all grown up, lounging in the heat of the desert, swapping stories of the grittiness and raw, brutal, perfect joy of parenthood. Back in our abode, Kaia smelled like sunscreen when I put her down for her nap and I tried not to move too much while she snoozed. And as we waited for Jason to arrive home, I slowly picked up her blocks and big legos, only to have her dump them out five minutes later.
So, I stayed horizontal on the floor (enduring a strange case of reflux), watching her build and sing and ramble on in her own little sentences, until Jason arrived. Another state of barely alive at this point, worn out from the day’s events, wondering if I’d ever get the incredible nesting energy that I had when I was pregnant with Kaia. Even though I had the same big belly, and worked full-time, I was cleaning and organizing like a mad-woman every single day and LOVING it. Where has that gone? Then, I crashed out at 9:30 and slept ten hours. But indeed, I showered!
And that sums up my first three days. I know, a boring story to tell. But my point is this: Being a SAHM is work; beautiful, messy, exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world (yet) work. Like work from your heart – the best and most difficult kind, where all of you spills over into it. I knew these things going into it, but I really thought I’d be able to maintain some semblance of a routine and a semi-respectable house. Sheesh, will that ever come? Mostly, in between these moments, my heart expands a million miles as I watch my little girl bloom before my eyes. And I cannot believe I’ve been given this opportunity to witness her blooming from within, day in and day out. And when I hear her proclaim “Happy Day!”, I have to whole-heartedly agree.
So, I need your advice.
1) What kinds of things can I prepare for to keep me and Kaia busy and happy during these impending summer months? (i.e. get a kiddie pool, etc). She adores being outside (in the mornings she swings and we say “G’morning birdies, G’morning trees, G’morning sky, G’morning sun, G’morning Mama Earth”) and I quite like the fresh air and dose of Vitamin D.
2) While the weather is still mostly nice outside, what kinds of crafty, fun things can she do out in our tiny yard?
3) The Million Dollar Question: I don’t expect to be Susie Homemaker and I won’t spend a bunch of time cleaning. But what advice do you have for a pregnant mama to keep up with the lightest amount of housework? Mostly I want to do it because I am nesting…I really want to prepare a nice, decluttered, peaceful birth space for this next baby.