I haven’t posted much recently because lately all my writing ideas seem to be negative. Things are going well, but my fourth month of being away from work and at home with Alzette was a bit of a hump. Spring came late here in the Midwest and the snow, cold, and gray skies of April made being at home difficult. I don’t want this to become a blog about why having a baby is so hard (about how little sleep I’m getting, or how awful poopy diapers and crying babies are). Call me naïve, but I generally really do take these hardships pretty easily as I think about the blessing it is to have Alzette in my life. Plus I knew what I was getting into when I decided to have a baby, and I feel fortunate that I was able to choose a lifestyle at home where dealing with the stresses of child rearing is a lot easier. Having said all that, I decided it might feel good to get a few things off my chest, and that others might feel comforted knowing we’re going through the same thing. After all, having a baby really is all sunshine and rainbows; it’s just a lot of other things too.
Top 5 most annoying things about being at home with a baby:
- It’s impossible to get anything done. Last weekend I was talking to my sister-in-law, who has been a full-time mom for several years (and now that her third is almost two, she’s back at work part-time). She said to me, “I don’t know about you, but I have trouble getting anything done around the house.” First of all, talk about an understatement. Secondly, what a relief it was to hear her say that! I consider her the stay-at-home mom professional (she’s also a trained kindergarten teacher, so when it comes to childhood development she knows her stuff). I assumed that she had everything down to a science, and that home keeping on top of juggling baths, food, and nap time were old hat to her. To hear her voice this after so many years of raising her kids was astounding, comforting, and a little dismaying all at once. When I decided to quit my job yes, of course, my primary inspiration was to raise Alzette myself. But I also thought I could spend more time home keeping: cleaning the bathroom, organizing closets, redecorating, gardening, and re-vamping old furniture. I have accomplished some of these goals, but I’m amazed at how little I’ve accomplished in comparison to what I thought I could do.
- Not taking a shower every day is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sure it’s nice that if I want to hang around in my pajamas all day I can. But that gets old really quickly and I soon realized that I sometimes feel like a slob if I can’t shower in the morning and put on real clothes. When I first started this adventure I had the romantic image that I would wake up before everyone else every morning, make breakfast and coffee, do some laundry and then be ready to teach my little one about the world. But Alzette hasn’t been the best sleeper during the night so I’ve been sleeping in, only getting out of bed once she forces me to, and then quickly throwing on yesterday’s t-shirt and jeans before she tries crawling down the stairs. Then the rest of a typical day is spent chasing her, trying to feed myself, cleaning the kitchen and getting dinner ready. By the time Scott gets home I’m too tired to shower! Besides, who’s going to smell me anyway?
- It gets lonely. This was the first thing my stay-at-home mom friends warned me about. Living in Madison – where I can walk anywhere, and where I have a couple friends who work part time and others in grad school who are happy to procrastinate their thesis by hugging a little baby – this hasn’t hit me too hard. But this spring was a rough one, and in mid-April after days of minimal contact with the outside world I found myself wondering for the first time whether I was really cut out for this at-home thing. Happily, warm weather finally arrived and I am once again feeling fortunate that I can go outside and not be locked in an office all day.
- You stop walking. I used to walk to and from work (in total, almost 2.5 miles) every day. Everyone thinks that when you’re a stay-at-home mom, taking the baby on a walk in the stroller is your primary and favorite activity. Ok, yes it’s a really nice way to spend the afternoon. But first of all, if your baby naps a lot in the stroller, that’s time you wish you were at home doing non-baby-related activities while she sleeps. More importantly, this is Wisconsin! The cold isn’t a huge problem – you can bundle up and you can bundle your baby up. But have you ever tried navigating a stroller over ice? Even on a good day when sidewalks are well-shoveled, inevitably you will come to a place where the snow is multiple feet high, or the ice is just way too bumpy, and there’s literally nowhere else for you to go (or no way for you to get to the next section that is clear). So I wasn’t doing much walking, but didn’t really think about it. Then the weather got nice last week so I was all excited to hit the pavement and walk downtown. Caring for a baby is physical. My arm muscles have never been in better shape, and nursing has resulted in me having my best weight since high school. What it’s not, however, is aerobic exercise. Oops. I found myself panting to catch my breath during what was used to be an average walk. It took me quite by surprise, until I realized how little walking I’ve been doing since leaving work. So the sun is out and I’ll be out again! Alzette seems to appreciate the ride more now anyway (and doesn’t just fall asleep).
- There’s no breast milk in the freezer. Ok ok, I know every working mother would give anything to not have to pump, especially at work. But it is kind of frustrating that I don’t have any scheduled time to pump anymore, so that if I need to go somewhere for an extended period there’s nothing in reserve for Scott to feed Alzette. And it’s not easy fitting in time to pump – those naps are precious minutes for laundry and blogging! I guess this one is bothering me particularly this week because I have an all-day board retreat on Saturday so I’m cram-pumping to try to make up for lost milk.
So there you have it. I didn’t list budget woes because that would deserve a post all of its own. (I will note one thing: it’s hard when you have more time to shop for your house but less money to do it with!)
But this is the beginning of my fifth month at home, and it is spring, and I’m starting to feel like I might finally be figuring out how to do this full-time mom thing. Everything keeps getting better, and being at home with my baby is still the best experience of my life. So in future posts I plan to offer what I’ve learned and share the positive developments I see with each new day.