My Pandemic Kid and the Lion King
Luke, my 5 year old honey badger, was 3 when the world shut down. Now, I am not going to lie and say that we did so many things as a family before COVID took over. The truth is, my husband and I are introverts, lead very busy lives, and are tired 100% of the time. So, the thought of piling our insanely energetic family into the car and going out in public is enough to keep us inside. Of course, we do the park and children’s museums but that is about the extent of it. Luke has never been to the movies, doesn’t go with me to the grocery store, and calls Target the “Gift Shop” because he only goes there when we have to buy a present for someone’s birthday and I want him to help me pick it out.
That’s why, when The Lion King came to our hometown, I knew it was time. First, let me promise you that the Lion King is Luke’s favorite movie. We watch the Lion Guard on Disney+ (seasons 1-3) at least once a week and he has a stuffed lion that he sleeps with at night. This was it. This was the time.
We spent the weekend before the play watching YouTube videos of the performance so he could be prepared for the puppets and the sounds. We went over all of the rules about not talking during the play and trying to keep our bodies still for 2 and a half hours. We made sure his belly was full and I snuck water in just in case he got thirsty. I even bought him a baby Simba stuffed animal at the tune of $42 so he could have something to hold onto when the lights went dark. We were ready.
What I wasn’t ready for was the sparkle in his eyes and the amazement that took over once those animals started coming down the aisles. I have an amazing friend who works for one of the sponsors of the theater. She was able to help me get incredible orchestra level seats, just a few rows back from the stage, on the aisle. Luke was close to coming out of his skin he was so excited.
He leaned over to me after about an hour and whispered, “Mommy, I am loving this!” and I melted. He pointed at the actors, clapped after every song, and, despite the conversations about calming our bodies, he wiggled and squirmed with excitement the entire play. I also had to keep asking him to stop lifting his stuffed Simba into the air and whisper-yelling “It is time!”
During the intermission, he was “starving” so we fought the crowds out to the concession to buy a cookie. Of course, because it is Luke, he fell on the way out of our seats and banged his head on the railing. He was fine but we had to talk about being careful even if we are excited. We made our way through all the very long lines, waited behind people that just couldn’t figure out what they wanted, and the announcement came on that we had to get back to our seats or they were going to lock us out for the first bit of the 2nd act. We grabbed our cookies and ran back to our seats, trying not to fall again. We made it.
About 10 minutes into the 2nd act, he leans over again, puts his hand on my hand and says, “Mommy, I think these are real people.” I almost cried it was so sweet. The whole way home he was beaming and we had to go home and turn on Lion Guard before he fell asleep. He was still talking about it this morning on his way to school. I am so glad we did this. It was exhausting but it is a memory I needed and I am glad Luke has it too.
The “truth” about Santa
Fifth grade has turned out to be one of my favorites so far in Noah’s little life journey. I remember fifth grade as awkward and full of mean girls and bangs. But, for Noah, he is really coming into his own and blossoming into a really cool human. And, every now and then, I catch a glimpse of a little young adult.
I really felt it on Christmas Eve this year when he asked me the question I knew was coming but was trying to avoid… Is Santa Claus real?
To set the record straight, I have never been a big fan of Santa. And, when I became a mom, I had full intentions of not buying into the whole fat man in a suit bringing presents idea. But that all changed when Noah’s little blue eyes sparkled in the lights of the Christmas tree. It was then that I realized that the magic of Santa was right in front of me- with no fat bearded man in sight.
And that is what I have tried to focus on when it came to Christmas- the magic. That feeling you get when you see the lights on the houses start to go up and when the Christmas songs begin to play on the radio. Magic is in the anticipation of seeing the look on your best friend’s face when they open the most perfect present in the world that you just knew they would love. And I watch the magic appear all around as we get the cherished family Christmas decorations out of the boxes and tell stories about the special ornaments as we place them on the tree.
All this being said, I picked Luke up from after school about 2 weeks before Christmas and, when I told him he would have to wait until after dinner to play on his iPad, he informed me that he not only hated me but he also “didn’t care at all about my Christmas magic because magic isn’t even real!” It is important to note that this is, probably, the meanest thing anyone has ever said to me.
So, even after this incident with Luke – when Noah asked me for the “truth” about Santa – magic, the good kind of sparkling magic, was the only thing that came to mind.
How I revealed the truth about Santa:
“Noah, the truth is, Santa has never been a big fat bearded guy that sneaks down your chimney and leaves you presents. The presents part has always been me and your dad. However, that doesn’t mean that Santa isn’t real. Santa is part of the Christmas magic that makes this time of year so special.
Christmas magic is different as you grow up and, as a little kid, Christmas magic shows up as the idea of a kind and gentle person who loves you and all the kids of the world so much that he wants to share the joy of Christmas with children by bringing them presents. As these kids grow up, like you, Christmas becomes less about the presents and the magic of Santa turns into something else.
Right now, now that you are 10 years old, Christmas magic lives in more than just presents. Remember that feeling you had when you looked at all of the lights in the trees in Sunset Hills? Or that feeling in your belly when we sing Christmas songs together? Or how much you look forward to curling up in our PJs every year to stay up late and watch Home Alone? That feeling that fills your whole body is where the magic of Christmas lives.
Santa now has a different meaning. Now you get to watch the sparkle in Luke’s eyes when he walks into the living room to see the presents that Santa brought. Now you get to see the joy in our faces a little differently when you rummage through your stocking. And now, you will see that Santa is always real as long as you can feel the magic.
When you get older and become a dad, the magic of Santa shifts as you will become the holder of the magic. You get to help create the magic sparkle that you see in your kid’s eyes. And then, your experience of the magic will be even bigger than you could ever imagine. Because you helped to light the spark that you now see twinkling all around you.
Noah- do you have any questions that you want to ask us?”
And, Noah, after me pouring my heart and soul into this conversation that I had been psyching myself up for, in all of his innocent wisdom said… “Umm, do I have to sleep in a shirt tonight because it’s Christmas?”
And the world moves on because it is much bigger than us.
To my teacher friends
I have a lot of feelings about teachers. I was raised by a teacher. And I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without some of the amazing teachers that I learned from along the way. I also remember the teachers that made me dread going to school everyday. Teachers that I just wished, over and over, that they could just see what I could see, and help me get there. I wasn’t the easiest student to teach (I may have a mild aversion to authority) but I was a good kid.
Now that I have a child in elementary school, it has never been more obvious to me that all teachers are not created equal. Just like all students are unique in their own ways, all teachers bring something different to the table. And there are a lot of teachers out there that are great. However, there are probably, also, a lot of teachers out there that are not-so-great.
What I would like to put out there for all of the people that call themselves teachers is to ask yourself if you are consistently a great teacher to all the kids.
If I had to guess, you all could look back and think of that one child, or maybe more, that really tried your patience. It is probably not difficult to imagine the kid who made everyday just a little bit harder in your classroom for that year. What I would like to say today, is that that child had a mother who cried regularly because her child’s teacher didn’t treat her kid like she treated the others. And she was afraid to speak up, or worse, afraid not to. I can also promise you that her child knew he wasn’t the favorite. And he remembers you too.
That child deserved so much more than to be the kid that you remember as the troublemaker, or the performer, or the kid that always gets hurt and causes you extra work. And that mom deserved more than to be scared to send an email or make a phone call for fear that it would make her kid’s life so much harder the next day. I ask every teacher that reads this to please remember every kid, even the difficult one, needs you to be great everyday, to every kid.
I recognize that teachers have way too much on their plates. I understand that a room full of children combined with so many requirements and expectations combined with low pay and under appreciation don’t exactly make for a rewarding work environment. However, I put my trust in you every day to be the adult in my kid’s life. I trust you to demonstrate to my child that there are adults in his world that truly care about him and his future. I desperately need you to be a safe grown up, to not make him doubt himself, and to build him up rather than break his spirit.
Last week, I watched a teacher break my son’s spirit. And in that moment, I felt like a failure. So please, I beg you, stop and think before you write a kid off, grumble about the amount of attention certain kids need, or get frustrated when a parent has a stupid question. Think about being a great teacher to all the kids all the time. Because that’s what makes a great teacher. If you are only great for the good kids, the easy kids, you’re not really so great after all.
Our trip to the ER
It was bound to happen. I have 2 boys who have very little regard for personal safety. They both think that you are standing still if you are not running as fast as you can. And, as Luke is fairly new to this whole “walking” thing, he falls a lot.
Well, Wednesday morning last week, the day after an amazing Halloween night full of adventure and costumes and adorableness, I get the call. I had just pulled in to the parking lot at work. I hadn’t even taken my seatbelt off yet. My phone rings and the caller ID is Luke’s daycare. I always have a brief moment of anxiety when I see that name on the caller ID. I assume that most mother’s do. I always hope that it is something minor like ‘he ran out of diapers’ or ‘I need to update his immunization records.’ But deep down, I always assume it is something terrible.
When I answered, the voice on the other end said, with a rushed voice, “Luke is okay, but…”
My heart sank. Before she could get the next words out of her mouth a million tragedies are running through my mind. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and I truly don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I have had about 4 weeks of non-stop everything with barely any moment to catch my breath.
Between my husband going out of town for a week for work to my own work travel to school events, Halloween, sicknesses, and life in general, I haven’t had a single moment to recharge. I am someone who needs time to recharge. I know that about myself. As a result, the craziness of the last month has sent me into a funk… A funk in which any emergency might break me. This call from daycare did it.
“Luke is okay, but… He fell on a toy and the corner hit him in the face and split his lip. It looks pretty deep and it may need stitches.”
She sends me a picture of him (when I get it, I die a little inside) and I let her know I will be right there. I call Luke’s doctor. She tells me to take him to the pediatric emergency room. I didn’t even know our city had a pediatric emergency room. I call Matt. He does absolutely nothing to calm me down. He asks if he needs to go with me. I say no even though, inside, I am freaking out and begging him to be there because I truly don’t know if I can do this alone.
Just then, the light comes on in my car telling me I need gas. Fuck.
I stop at the gas station.
On the way to pick up Luke, I call my friend who is usually pretty good at calming me down. She doesn’t answer. After all, it’s not even 8am yet. She calls me back, sensing an emergency. I tell her about the situation and she, as hard as she tried, did little to comfort me. At this point, I just need my baby in my arms. I need to assess the situation myself.
I get to daycare. Luke looks pitiful. His face is swollen and bloody. His eyes are puffy from crying. I know he can tell that I am freaking out. I try not to show it. The cut does look pretty bad. I don’t think it needs stitches but, I am not a doctor. We head to the emergency room just to be safe.
I check in at the ER and I didn’t even have to sit down in the waiting room. A nurse was waiting for me at the door to take us back to our room. Luke perked up once she started taking his vitals. He seemed to forget about the gaping hole in his lip and was mostly excited to explore this new and exciting hospital room. The doctor took a little too long to get there because Luke pretty much destroyed the room. Between the latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and hospital gowns, there was very little floor showing by the time the doctor got there. He even unplugged something at one point that set off a little alarm.
He was acting like himself which brought my craziness down several notches. The doctor assessed him and determined that it didn’t go all the way through and it didn’t cross the “lip line” so no stitches were necessary. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment and sent us on our way.
He fell asleep in the car on the way to the pharmacy so I sat in the car in the parking lot and cried. Not a sad cry, but a cry of relief, of exhaustion, of release.
On a normal day, and on a grander scheme, this is not that big of a deal. Toddlers fall. It happens.
But, as I am sure many other mothers feel on a regular basis, I am just trying to make it through each day, one step at a time. This parenting thing is hard enough on a good day. But after a month of not being able to recharge, a month of zero self-care, a month of absolute crazy, I broke. And it sucks. And it makes me feel weak. And it makes me feel like a bad mother.
Ultimately, I know better. I’m freakin’ awesome. But in that moment, on that day, I hurt for my baby. And it is a hurt that doesn’t go away just because his lip is healing. It is a hurt that is screaming at me to take care of myself.
Worst Day Ever
Last week was Noah’s 6th birthday. He’s been talking about his birthday since the day after his 5th birthday last year so, needless to say, he’s been pretty excited as we approached the big day. The problem with this birthday, however, (and with every birthday for him from now until forever) is that his little brother’s birthday is 5 days before his.
Obviously, this is entirely my fault and it has ruined his life.
The Saturday before his birthday, we threw a huge party at our house for his little brother, Luke. It was Luke’s very first birthday so it was kind of a big deal. I invited the entire family from out of town. I also, because I know this is tough on Noah, made sure to invite several kids Noah’s age so that he would have kids to play with while we celebrated his baby brother.
On Sunday, I had all of the out-of-town family over for a special “family party” just for Noah. We swam, opened presents, ate pizza, and decorated Batman cupcakes. When all of the family had to leave, Noah declared that this was “the worst birthday ever.”
Shake it off. He’s tired and full of cake. He expected a giant party at a trampoline park with all of his friends. Fine. This will happen eventually. But, he has an early August birthday. It is damn near impossible to round up all of the friends that he wants. I promised him a party in September after school starts. “It will stretch your birthday out a whole month!” I promised. This did not do much to soothe his miserable heart.
On Wednesday, his actual birthday comes around. I divided up his presents so he would have some to open before he heads off to camp and some to open at his birthday dinner that night.
He opens the first present. As he’s tearing the paper, I realize I don’t have my phone. I wanted to take a picture. I run into the other room to grab my phone out of my purse, turn around quickly to snap a photo, and BAM. I smash my phone into Noah’s mouth, almost knocking his loose front tooth out. Cue the blood. Cue the tears.
He had run up to me to give me a hug and tell me thank you. And I (basically) smacked him the face for it. Best mom ever.
After the tears were dried, the blood wiped up, and the rest of the presents opened, he asked me where the cupcakes were to take to his summer camp class. DAMMIT!! It never even occurred to me to send cupcakes to summer camp. Awesome mom award goes to me.
Okay, no biggie. I’ll send cupcakes on Friday.
To make up for it, I threw a handful of suckers in his lunch box and told him he could share them with his friends at lunch. Did I count the suckers to make sure there were enough for everyone? Nope. Did he hand them out to a few friends, only to have several friends mad at him and then not have any left over for himself? Yep. Was he crying when I picked him up from camp? Of course he was.
It’s official. I am the world’s greatest mother.
Okay. I will redeem myself at dinner. That night, Noah had specifically requested to go out to eat where he could order waffles. Awesome. We went to a local breakfast joint that serves excellent waffles. Halfway through dinner, Noah stops eating. When I ask him what’s wrong, he whispers in my ear that he has to poop and we need to leave the restaurant “right now!” Noah doesn’t poop in public bathrooms so, back home we go.
I will do better next year. I don’t know if it is possible to make it any worse. Happy birthday Noah!
Just this past weekend, I pulled out Noah’s first tooth. I got a little sentimental as this was my first baby’s first lost tooth. The tooth fairy came and brought Noah a dollar. All was well with the world.
Then, this past Tuesday, we were in our hectic after work/after school craziness. I was rushing to get the baby fed before I had to go back out to see clients, Matt was scarfing down dinner because he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat while watching both kids, and Noah was running around pretending to be a cheetah. Standard Tuesday night.
Apparently, pretending to be a cheetah involves running around on all fours and picking things up with your teeth. Some of the things that this particular cheetah needed to pick up with his teeth were the throw pillows on the couch.
Also, as a cheetah, when you pick up a throw pillow with your teeth, you must thrash about with the pillow in your mouth.
Naturally, as does happen when you thrash about with a throw pillow in your mouth, the pillow is bound to come loose, fly across the room, and nearly rip out another baby tooth from a 5 year old cheetah’s mouth.
Noah’s crying and holding his mouth, blood dripping everywhere. I put Luke down, and try to get Noah to the bathroom so we can clean up the blood and I can assess the situation. [Noah, however, is too concerned with trying to find a mirror so he can look at all of the blood in his mouth first.] Tooth is still intact, very loose, but intact.
I clean up the blood, Noah rinses his mouth out until the tooth stops bleeding, I give him strict instructions to leave the tooth alone, and I go to work.
The next day, when Noah gets home from school:
NOAH, in a dreary voice: “I pulled my tooth out today.”
ME: “Awesome buddy! Where is it?”
NOAH: “Elijah accidentally knocked it out of my hand.” Still, super sad-sounding.
ME: “Oh no! Did your teacher find it?”
NOAH: “Yes. It’s in this baggy. But I don’t think that’s my tooth.”
Noah hands me the baggy and, inside it, is 2 tiny bits of white plastic. First of all, baby teeth are gross and, especially when they are pulled out early, are bloody on one end. Second, any look at my kid’s mouth full of cavities and silver teeth, would demonstrate that his baby teeth are not pristine white like this tiny bits of plastic.
Turns out, there was a substitute teacher that day. I emailed his actual teacher and she said she would look for Noah’s tooth. Why wouldn’t the substitute just say, “I couldn’t find the tooth”? How, in any situation, is sending home bits of plastic better than telling the truth? And, if she actually thought it was his tooth, what the hell?
I think we may be leaving a note for the tooth fairy tonight. Which is probably not worth a whole dollar.
UPDATE: Noah’s teacher found the tooth behind the play kitchen in the classroom! She even let him call me from her cell phone with the rest of the class on speakerphone and they all cheered. All is right with the world.
Turkey and Sweet Potatoes
We have been working on a lot of developing at my house. Luke recently got his first 2 teeth and Noah just got his first loose tooth. Luke has been trying to crawl for months but has only ever managed a hefty scoot. Well last night, he officially crawled on his hands and knees while chasing after a football. And Noah has his first flag football game this weekend.
We are busy.
Well, last night, Luke also tried meat for the first time. I have been looking for ways to help him sleep a little bit longer at night because he still gets up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. Gerber makes all kinds of flavors of pureed 2nd-stage baby food that includes a little bit of meat for some added protein. Luke tried turkey and sweet potatoes and seemed to love it.
I watched him closely for a little while after to make sure there were no adverse reactions, Matt and I gave him his bath, and he went to bed right on time. Good night, right?
Well, Luke wakes up at about 11:30pm, which is normal for him. He wasn’t showing his regular signs of being hungry. He was fidgety and wiggly- basically full of gas. Most nights, if he nurses for a minute, it will help him to pass the uncomfortable gas but that just wasn’t working. So, I did all of my gassy-baby tricks. Nothing worked.
Then, when I decided to just give up and snuggle with him, he let out the biggest, wettest, loudest, explosive shit ever and it made Matt sit straight up in bed. Turns out, Luke’s tummy was not a big fan of the turkey and sweet potatoes.
There was yellowish-brown liquid poop all down his leg, and into the footie part of his pajamas. It was everywhere. We get him onto his changing table and he is still squirming a bit. We peel his PJs off him, trying not to cover anything else with poop (failing miserably as we go along), and get his diaper off.
Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Diaper Genie is full beyond capacity so we have nowhere to put the poopy diaper and the wipes warmer is out of wipes so we have nothing to clean the poop with.
At this point, it’s starting to be hilariously funny because it feels like this stuff only happens to us. We get the wipes refilled, Matt changes the diaper bucket, I get Luke all cleaned up, applying some diaper cream, and then……. Luke has another massive blowout poop all up my arm, all the way to my elbow. Awesome.
Matt takes over and gets Luke another diaper and cleans him up while I get myself cleaned up. We get him in new pajamas and I start rocking him to get him back to sleep. Next thing I hear is another loud, foul-smelling, wet explosion. This one was mostly contained in the diaper but did seep out a bit requiring another pajama change.
It’s well after midnight now and Matt and I are basically giggling at the absurdity of our situation. We get it! You don’t like turkey and sweet potatoes. No need to make such a big deal about it. Surely you’re done (famous last words).
Luke has quit squirming. Seems like the gas and diarrhea are gone. Luke starts sucking on his hands and showing signs of being hungry. He starts to nurse and I see his eyes close as he falls asleep. I can finally let my guard down and relax. Nope.
Luke proceeds to projectile vomit all over me, my pillows, the bed, the headboard, everything. Then, he just falls asleep. Almost like that was the last thing he had to check off of his to-do list for the night.
Meanwhile, I had to change all of my clothes, strip all of my pillows down before finally realizing that it soaked all the way through to the actual pillow, then had to find a new pillow. I could have changed the sheets but we still haven’t washed the other set of sheets from the last time Luke spit up all over them so I just laid a towel down over the mess and went to sleep.
Luke might be a vegetarian now.
Divide and Conquer
The first thing I need to tell anyone who is thinking about having a second child is that the transition from 1 kid to 2 is so much harder (and more complicated) than the transition from baby-free to 1 kid. It is still wonderful and rewarding (and a lot of other things too) but I was not prepared for the insane degree of difficulty that would be involved when trying to navigate a newborn/infant/baby and a young child all at the same time.
When Luke was brand new, he was what some people might call a “Velcro baby.” He had to be attached to me at all times. The moment I set him down, even for a second, he lost his freakin’ mind. He was the happiest baby imaginable as long as I was holding him. Add that on to the fact that Luke is hungry constantly, nurses to soothe himself, and nurses for his snacks between breastfeeding, and I didn’t get a lot done. And, it made it especially difficult to be even a halfway decent parent to our older son, Noah.
To deal with this, Matt and I just went with the “divide and conquer” method of parenting. Noah became his kid. Luke became mine.
Now that Luke is older, he likes to be put down some times so he can play and he doesn’t eat quite as much as he used to (sort of), so Matt and I are able to alternate kids a little more regularly. But it is still overwhelming.
I feel like I can only be a great parent to one kid at a time or a sorta-okay parent to both kids. And I miss my one-on-one time with Noah.
Matt is the one now that knows the kindergarten routine inside and out. He knows which shorts Noah likes to wear to bed and what his favorite TV shows are these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I don’t have to watch Odd Squad every night but I do miss the snuggles that come along with late night TV.
And while I am the main parent for Luke, that means Matt gets to swoop in when he’s being all cute and adorable and I get the late night feedings and the tearful daycare drop offs (my tears, not Luke’s).
But, Matt can’t parent Noah by himself. It makes it extra difficult because Noah is a high energy kid. And not in a “oh my kid likes to run around a lot” kind of way. Noah has to run around a lot ALL THE TIME. He only has 2 speeds- 90 mph and asleep. There is no middle, no range of energy levels. When we go to trampoline parks or bounce houses, he doesn’t fall asleep on the way home. These kinds of activities just add fuel to his already high-intensity fire.
But, like all things parenting, we are learning as we go. Matt and I have never strived for perfection. Our mantra has always been “do what works” and so far, what we are doing is working. I am sure we will continue to struggle. And we may have a few successes here and there.
In the meantime, we will continue to try to manage on 5 hours of sleep and minimal conversation.
So much spit up
When a kid starts at daycare, one of the things you can most definitely expect to happen almost immediately is that they are going to get sick. The extent to the illness varies but, inevitably, temperatures will rise and someone is going to get puked on.
As I have mentioned, my new baby Luke started daycare about 3 weeks ago. He loves it, I’m still struggling with it- I don’t see that changing any time soon.
[Side note: I can make it all the way to my car now before I start to cry. And sometimes, I don’t cry until I get to work. Winning!]
Well, after the first week, Luke started sneezing more than usual and started sounding like a little pig when he slept. That eventually turned into a drippy nose and runny eyes. He didn’t have a fever and he was acting just as happy as always so, no big deal.
Saturday rolls around, we go through our normal sleep routine of nursing before bed. I swaddle him super tight, kiss him goodnight, and place him in the cosleeper. Matt was down the hall putting Noah to bed and reading bedtime stories.
Luke started to shift a little bit but, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, out of nowhere, a geyser of spit-up shoots into the air. This giant spit-up fountain is spewing about 18 inches skyward and plummeting back down onto my sweet baby’s face and all over the bed.
A wave of shock and fear falls over me and all I can think to do is shout “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” over and over again as I try to clean spit-up out of Luke’s eyes and ears while also trying not to drown myself in this milky, smelly mess.
Seriously. I have never seen this much spit-up ever. There is no way he drank this much. He had to have been storing this in some secret spit-up compartment for days in order to produce this much. He didn’t even seem all that upset about it. If anything, he had a look of pride in his eyes as I grabbed blankets and burp cloths and rags from everywhere I could think to grab them to clean this mess up. He looked almost as though he did it on purpose to make sure I was paying attention.
After what seemed like forever (probably only a minute or 2), Matt heard my panic and came running down the hall. He, too, was astonished at the volume of spit-up. He also seemed to be more upset that I had just changed the sheets on our bed that morning and the other sheets were still dirty on the laundry room floor (oops!).
This week, it happened. Twelve short weeks flew by and my maternity leave was over. I started struggling with the idea of sending my precious new baby to daycare at about 10 weeks in. Before that, it seemed so far away. Either that, or I was just too tired to really think too far into the future.
Maternity leave is interesting. You really spend the first month trying to recover from delivery. Regardless of the kind of delivery you had, recovery takes some time and some adjusting. Not only is your body recovering, but your family is too.
The second month of maternity leave is when it starts to get so much better. By then, you and your family have figured out how to get things done and the baby has developed some routine. This time around, I really soaked all of it in. I didn’t get much done around the house because I spent all of my spare time staring at him while he slept, rocking him while he nursed, and making silly faces at him when he looked at me. We really became an awesome team.
And then that last month is when the baby can respond to you and that amazing bond gets even stronger. You know what makes him laugh. You know what cries and sounds mean what. He starts to make the “poop face” and the “I’m about to lose my shit” face. But he also stares at you as if you are the most beautiful and magnificent person in the whole entire world. It feels wonderful.
And then the real world rips it away from you because you have to go back to work.
This transition has been absolutely heartbreaking. Because I knew this would be a struggle for me, Matt and I chose a very highly rated daycare which means it is freakishly expensive (and we totally can’t afford it but we’ll figure out a way to make it work). I guess I thought that would make this easier. It hasn’t.
Day 1 I cried all morning. Fortunately, Matt went with me for drop off. I sobbed the entire time and Matt pretty much had to drag me out of the door. They were super nice but it was terrible.
When I picked him up that day, they told me that he struggled taking the bottle and he barely napped all day. This made me start sobbing again. What kind of awful mother am I??!!
When we got home, the baby was ravenous and nursed like he hadn’t eaten in days. Then I stared at him for about 20 minutes and then he fell asleep for the rest of the night. On this terrible day when I was separated from my beautiful baby all day and cried all day and all I wanted was to stare into his big blue eyes, he was awake for 20 minutes. This sucks!
The second day, I was able to soak in the morning a little more. I stared at him and snuggled him a little too long before getting him ready. I drove a little slower on the way to daycare and watched him in the rearview as he giggled to himself. I made it into the classroom, calm and collected. I handed the baby to his teacher and l immediately lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and had to kiss him about 14 times before I was able to walk out the door. He did sleep and eat better at daycare that day so my evening was a little more pleasant.
The third day, today, was a little bit better (so far). I managed to get him all the way into his classroom, talk with the teacher a bit, hand him off, and I only turned around 3 times to kiss him “just one more time” before I left. I made it all the way out the door and into the parking lot before bursting into tears.
I am not sure who on earth invented this horrible ritual and who in their right mind thought that 12 weeks was long enough for maternity leave (unpaid by the way) but, as I said before, this sucks.