I finally get it.
Last Friday morning I was lying in bed and couldn’t move. The shades were cracked just enough so that I could see the cold, drizzly rain outside, making the thought of divorcing myself from my perfectly warm sheets incomprehensible. And even though it was my husband who woke up with our daughter at around 6 a.m., like he does every day, every part of me felt so fatigued it was like even my fingernails were begging me to stay in bed.
The day before I had been up and about around 8, worked all day while watching the baby, made dinner for me and my husband and then baked cupcakes for a birthday party. I wasn’t finished with everything until after 9 that night. It was a day not unlike every one before it (give or take the cupcakes). But the tired, and the tired from being tired, hit me like steamroller for the first time on Friday morning.
Nine and a half months into motherhood I’m still walking around in a fog of puppy love with my baby. And while the crush isn’t fading, it is becoming clearer and more distinct. I love my baby more than red wine and chocolate, but she can drain me faster than the color on O.J. Simpson’s face upon hearing a police siren.
Ever since she was born last August, I would estimate that I haven’t spent more than four or five waking hours without her. That’s (mostly) by choice, to be sure. But I’m starting to think it wouldn’t be tragic if I had a day off from her. This revelation comes as she’s starting to be less baby, more deliberate little person.
Thankfully, she’s a good player. I have different toy stations set up around the house while I work so she doesn’t have the chance to get bored. If ennui ever does start to sink in though, she’s now figured that she can alert me that she’s in need of new stimulation by shrieking as if she’s a damsel in distress tied down to the railroad tracks in a silent movie, minus the silent part. Sometimes she just shrieks not out of boredom, but because she’s training for her debut at the Met in 2031. It’s not always clear which is the case. She likes a good guessing game.
Either way, theatrics are in her blood. While she’s not crawling yet (although she’s threatening to start at any moment), she’s already trying, with increasing success, to climb up on everything that could possibly kill her like she’s auditioning for the lead in the next installment of the “Spider-Man” film franchise.
At her 9-month well-child visit earlier this month, the pediatrician casually told me she might start “giving up” one of her two daily naps. I panicked. After months of trying to get her on a nap schedule, she finally goes down for up to 90 minutes in the morning and two and a half hours in the afternoon. There isn’t one part of me ready for anyone in our home to give up anything sleep-related.
It’s the very idea of less nap time and a more mobile baby that has me dreaming at around noon each day of what the evening’s cocktail(s) will be. And what time can I start consuming it (them) so that if I’m spotted with a wine or shot glass in hand at 3 in the afternoon, is it so early that my neighbors will call child protective services.
I’ve also started wondering lately why the word Xanex keeps popping into my head and if it’s something with which I should be stocking my medicine cabinet.
Carrying around my daughter for eight to 10 diaper changes a day, four bottles, two to three meals, baths, walks, supermarket excursions, play and cuddle time between trying to do the job that I actually get paid for, I understand why my mom expressed sympathy and concern when we moved into our home that has two flights of stairs leading up to the front door, plus 14 steps separating the top floor from the bottom floor. I also get what all those (working) mothers on Oprah have been talking about for the past few decades. Being a mom breathes new life into the soul and tires out just about everything else.
But every day when my daughter bounces with excitement when I pull out a stack of books to read to her or rests her weary little head on my shoulder after her last bottle, I get that I wouldn’t trade any of it for a second. Except maybe for as many seconds as it would take to occasionally see a movie and have a nice leisurely lunch. Alone.
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