As the days and months go by and my daughter grows before my eyes, time seems both like an endless cycle of tasks and a blurry daydream. I can’t believe it was an entire year ago that I was hugely pregnant and anxiously awaiting the biggest life change of them all. The beginning was difficult, and I often forget just how hard it truly was. Lately, I’ve been aching for that time back, and hating that I was less than aware for many of those first days. I finally get why people have babies back-to-back. They yearn to be more conscious for a do-over.
Things do get easier as baby gets older and into more of a groove. There is a routine. For us, our routine is the Bible of all life, and we follow it religiously- to the detriment of any social functions or extra curriculars. In my case, the work week is packed into 4 days so I can be home with Lily the rest of the time. As I may have mentioned, my husband works a vigorous and unpredictable job where he basically isn’t a part of the equation. That sounds harsh, but I mean it as matter-of-fact as possible. He helps where he can (ahem, grocery shopping… worst chore ever,) but it’s not like he can pick a day to stay home and babysit. If I didn’t have the proverbial “village”, I don’t know how I would still be a functioning adult. I do not know how people without family or close friends nearby do this. Even with that help, I still feel like I’m drowning in the day-to-day juggle fairly often. I feel like if I stop chugging along, the whole damn thing will fall apart.
Sometimes, it does fall apart. I joke that I have my mommy breakdown every 4-6 weeks. (Ahem… 3-4 weeks.) Today was one of them. Baby was miserable. (Teething? A new virus on top of the pneumonia we just worked on with a full run of antibiotics?) Husband was sick (after avoiding at least 2 of the prior illness spells.) He had to work. Someone quit on the job and he tells me he might not be home until 9pm. (We don’t see him. Family time is not a thing for us.) Heat stopped working. Realized there’s a family birthday party at 4pm. (NOT next week like originally thought.) I last washed my hair Wednesday evening. No food in the house. Monsoon outside. Baby was inconsolable because I put her in the play pen just to move into the next room and heat her bottle. I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore. Emotional explosion. Cry for help. Relief. Embarrassment.
There are days I am proud and feel I have it all together. This routine I’ve created with our unique family situation (usually) operates like a fine-tuned machine, and I made it. Lily knows exactly what to expect in the morning, for naps, and during her bedtime routine. She is thriving. I am grateful for the immense help I do get. I would be lost without it. I usually enjoy the weekends with Lily and revel in her laughter, her peaceful sleep, daily discoveries and milestones. But when I trip, I tumble hard. The pressure sometimes feels like too much and the embarrassment I feel after my monthly breakdown is equally as intense. I am embarrassed that I need to ask for even more help. This life is my responsibility. How can I ask people to give up their time to help me manage it?
Today, while on a rare grocery shopping excursion (only possible because my mom and aunt swooped in to save me mid-meltdown,) I saw a mom with a new baby and toddler having a tantrum. She was standing in the checkout line behind me, and the little girl was freaking out. Now, because of my own heightened tensions, I’ll admit the screaming and crying was like nails on my personal chalkboard of unpleasantries. But, I looked at the woman, pleading with her daughter to stop yelling and calm down, and wondered what I would do in that scenario. My mom used to tell me she would drop everything and leave a store if I had a tantrum that wouldn’t end; I always thought I’d do the same thing. But in life, you have that one shot to get groceries. I get that now. That woman was so close to finishing her trip to the store with two babies. I almost cried for her right then and there. (I also cried when Tops played a Dave Matthews song and when my husband texted me saying we only had $50 left in our grocery budget for the month.) Parenting is hard. Life is hard. I feel guilty saying that life is hard when we live such privileged lives and I feel embarrassed admitting that I need more help than I’m asking for.
I would feel better if I took time for myself, but when? Writing this bumbling blog is a luxury, and I want it more than anything. I want to start yoga again. I want to watch a television show and enjoy it. I want to see my friends. I want to leave the house WITH my husband. I don’t know how to make some or any of this happen, but I think if I am to continue on-breakdowns or no breakdowns, in order to be a good mom to my sweet baby girl, I need to make these things happen.
Life with a baby has gotten easier. Even on the hardest day, my fog dissipates and I see my daughter, finally asleep in my arms and thank God, the Universe, or whatever miraculous deity that brought her into my life. I know how blessed I am to have the opportunity to be run down, dirty, and desperate. My ultimate goal is simply to be 2% less run down, dirty, and desperate. It’s always worth a shot.