For the first time since college, my life is governed by the academic calendar. My daily schedule and annual trips are now dictated by the school. This is my new life and it’s taking some getting used to. This is our first year with a school-aged kid and so much has changed. Between our 4-year old preschooler and our new little 4-month old, we are still very much learning how to adapt to the new schedule. Someone tell me, does it get easier? No? That’s what I thought.
Our little one was born in June, and we spent the summer struggling to find solid ground–I was drowning between managing the newborn and the big kid while recovering from my cesarean (both my kids were cesarean births). My husband went back to work after three weeks and I was home alone with a newborn and a then 3-year old. To be honest, I’m not sure how I made it through the summer. By the grace of God alone we all managed to survive.
Come September, the school year started and we had to adjust to a whole different kind of new. Once we adapted to the pickup and drop off schedule, I was surprised at how many people asked me, “So what are you going to do with your mornings now? You probably get so much done now that you only have one kid.”
So what am I going to do with my mornings? Nothing. I will have absolutely nothing to show for my mornings. My emails will still be backed up, dishes will continue to wait, laundry will remain neglected, I have no plans to take on any more writing assignments or new work. I am going to sit and cuddle my little one.
I have to say, it’s been really nice to have my mornings with the little one. For five days a week, every morning, it’s just me and her. For her entire life so far she’s had to share the spotlight with her older sister and share my attention, but for a small period every morning she gets me all to herself. As far as I am concerned, that space in my schedule is sacred.
For a while I struggled with how to justify these mornings of seemingly lazy cuddle time: Can I chalk this up to self-care? Could I argue my baby needs this? Is it fair to say that I need this?
Why do I feel the need to justify spending cuddle time with my little baby? I don’t want to feel badly about baby cuddles.
So I won’t.
I am just going to sit in my rocking chair with my snuggly, happy baby until it’s time to pick up big sister. Baby sister and I are going to chill all morning long. And sure, not every moment is magic. Sometimes I’m wiping poop off her back because she blew out of another onesie. But magic moments are going to go by unnoticed if I don’t create space for them and actively pause. I do believe that in the throws of motherhood, pausing must be done actively.
There is a lot of truth to the fact that one baby is less work than two. So in a lot of ways, things seem “easier” when it’s just me and my little one. It’s very tempting for me to get things done while she sleeps. But I take issue with the notion that just because my load has lightened or I feel more at ease that I ought to do more. Like I’m doing some kind of messed up schedule strength conditioning: Oh your load isn’t as heavy as it could be? Weak! Why don’t you take on some more things. See that mom over there doing all the things? Do that. Be like her. Then sign them up for more activities.Go volunteer more, tackle some projects, solve more problems and see if it’s heavier now. Comfortable with that set? Take on some more weight and condition yourself until you’re used to it. Get stronger. Do more.
We as moms do so much already. We are constantly moving, thinking, planning, doing, going. Can we agree that sometimes slowing down is harder than keeping up? Because that’s where I’m at. I’m very good at keeping up with the to-dos around the house and I know I’m not alone. I know other moms out there are champs at coordinating the schedules, volunteering for another event, making food, hosting a get together, and we keep going. We keep getting it done.
Except I can’t anymore. I am tapping out. Sorry/not sorry. I decided not to do all of the things. Could I get all the things done? Maybe. In fact, almost certainly. But do I want to? No. Not anymore.
Do I have unread emails? Yup. Are there dirty dishes in my sink? Darn right there are. Have I put away any of the clean clothes I washed two days ago? Not a chance.
I assure you those things will get done, but not right now. Not in this moment. This moment demands my attention. So I will actively choose to pause and hold my sleeping baby. Even though I am exhausted and could use a nap, I’m not going to sleep. I am going to stay awake. I will memorize her little face and the sound of her breathing. I will examine every little finger and toe and marvel over how small and precious she is. I will run my hand over her smooth hair and touch her little nose, then pray I didn’t just wake her. I will breathe her in and hold my breath because by the time I let go and exhale she’s going to be off to school. Just like her big sister. I don’t want to miss it.
Everything else will wait.