It's no secret: being a mother is hard work. Well, at least it's not a secret to moms. Yes indeed the rewards are worth the challenges tenfold, and I wouldn’t trade Olivia or Cade for an “easier” life, but I do find myself looking back at how things “used to be” sometimes. And sometimes I feel guilty about that. Is it normal to wish things were easier, or more like they once were? Why do I get stuck wondering how your grass looks over there on your side of the fence, or even on the past side of my life's fence? Am I alone in these musings?
Life used to be so different.
I used to sleep in on weekends, waking up to enjoy a relaxing morning with a book and a cup of coffee on the deck, or snuggled up in my pajamas to watch a movie on a cold day. I would lounge around and then take a leisurely shower, dry and straighten my hair, apply my make-up and be “ready” for the day. I would spend time cleaning, (which, strange as it may be, relaxes me,) and running errands. I might go shopping or meet up with friends. Nowadays I wake up at 6:30, stumble out of bed in my pjs to change and feed the baby, walk around with her until it’s time for her morning nap (this baby of ours doesn't love to sit still), then quickly jump in the shower in hopes that I can get the soap rinsed out and a comb through my hair before she wakes up. I consider napping with her, but know if I try she’ll likely wake up 20 minutes later and I’ll STILL have my pj’s on and un-brushed hair and teeth. Look at it this way: waking up early and not lounging around means that many more immeasurable minutes with my daughter.
Speaking of mornings, you should see us try to get out the door on weekdays. I set my alarm for 5:45 and once again stumble for the shower. (unless I take my shower at night, which I sometimes do.) I take it in the guest bathroom, though, so as not to disturb my little one. Oops, I forgot my towel. Oops, I forgot my make-up. Oops, I forgot my clothes. You get the idea. I tip-toe around in the bedroom, hoping she won’t stir. Gone are the days of going downstairs to pour myself a cup of coffee, come back up and listen to NPR as I went through my “beauty” routine. Once I’m dressed and have mascara applied, I make my way, baby monitor in tow, to the pumping station. That’s what I call the chair in the nursery where I pump the blessed milk one of the FIVE times I do this each day. Then it’s off to gently wake the baby after trying so hard not to disturb her. Poor thing. Then trying to play with, change, feed, pack up, clean up and leave within the next 20 minutes, followed by crying as I shut the car door and drive off to work without her. Gone are the days of morning trips to Starbucks, here are the frantic glances at the clock with each red light. Look at it this way: my baby girl doesn't care a lick about my hair or make-up, and what sweeter thing is there in life than to wake up to her sweet smile and chatter, regardless of the time of morning?
Do you know what my evenings used to look like? I used to work out at the gym at least 2 times a week. I loved taking those cardio classes with a multitude of other women, sweating, shaking our groove thangs in unison to a funky beat. (Can you say Zumba?!) I came away from those times feeling rejuvenated, confident and healthy. Nowadays a good workout is a walk around the block, or maybe just my daily trips up and down the stairs at home and work. "So go work out again", you say? It’s true, I could. But then I’d be missing another whole hour away from my baby and I already have to miss 9.5 hours a day while I'm at work! So I suck in my tummy when I remember, and look at those fit girls walking by, with their toned arms and defined abs and think “one day.” Let's look at it this way: I get to work out for free and my weights are more precious than gold-the sweet smooshy body of my bouncing baby!
Oftentimes I would make a fun dinner, perhaps using a new recipe. Watching TV with Jeff. Reading or surfing the web. Lounging. (hmmm, did I really lounge that much?) These days I get home from work, swoop the baby out of Jeff’s arms and hope she doesn’t cry since she is more attached to Daddy. A balancing act of baby, dirty diapers from the sitter, full milk bottles from work, empty milk bottles from the sitter. Putting things in their proper places while making a song out of it all. Feed the baby. Play with the baby (clearly this is what it's all about!) while also glancing at the clock to see if I need to start dinner yet. Or maybe pack her up in the snuggly to go for a walk. When Daddy cooks it means more playtime for us (or more walking and bouncing to keep from crying), but then trading cleanup for cooking. Then it’s bath time, story time, and bedtime. I certainly do cherish the moments she is in my arms. I can’t get enough of my baby girl’s face. Once she is asleep, which could take 10 minutes or 45, it’s more organizing and picking up. Yes, I could save some of this for the weekend, but that only makes for a more stressed out mommy and a busier weekend! After all of that, maybe I take a shower. Followed by just enough time at the end of the night for a few minutes of TV or reading or blogging on the couch with Jeff, chatting and catching up on our days, while I hold my drooping lids open as long as I can, then off to bed, where baby and I wake up 3-4 times each night, only to start all over again tomorrow. Gone are the nights of uninterrupted dreams and restful sleep. Look at it this way: I'll never take for granted the few hours I get to spend with my family each evening-I will take full advantage of being fully present.
Gone are the old ways, here are the new. And better, to be sure. But am I the only one who sometimes remembers the old ways with nostalgia? Am I still trying to get used to this mothering gig? What do you other mommy's think? Here's what I think, when I come back around in my mind. I guess I don't know if my thoughts are all that normal. But I do know that they are mine. And they are OK. I'm a good mommy, wife, friend, daughter, employee. Life ebbs and flows. The motherhood tide was way in for a while, with waves of doubt and unknowns threatening to pull me under. Lately the waters have slowly been receding, though, leaving lots of soft, white sand to walk along, carrying my baby, holding hands with my hubby, as I stroll this journey with my precious family, making memories that I'm certain I'll look back at in twenty years and think "life sure used to be easy."