Wednesday, August 27, 2014

titles are for normal people

There is a very corny poem on my midwife's bathroom wall:

Cleaning and dishes can wait til tomorrow
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow
So dust balls be quiet! Cobwebs go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

I told you it was corny! Imagine it on a sampler. It's catchy, though.

My first week of staying-at-home-being-a-mommy by myself will be over tonight when Matt gets home, because he only has to go to school Monday through Wednesday. The first two days were not bad; I resolved that I would set my sights on no higher accomplishments than getting the baby to nap and nurse as much as possible, and that meant that when I did sneak away to unload the dishwasher or feed myself or go to the bathroom I felt like a big success. I even had some nice long sessions of reading (Aristotle East and West by David Bradshaw in the morning and George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss in the afternoon, both excellent) and drinking coffee (bad! bad! but good...) while I rocked him in his car seat on the porch, with the overhead fan blowing the mosquitoes off-course. I felt slightly decadent but part of adjusting to this job is being okay with sitting around.

Actually, I've realized that it's pretty important to not just be okay with it, to not just excuse yourself for your apparently leisurely attentions to your child, but to own them. You have to sit there and hold this child, so why torture yourself by resolving to jump up and Do Something Productive as soon as his eyelashes stop fluttering? You are nourishing and comforting somebody else who can't do anything for himself. That's good in itself, and if you get to devour a book or binge on a podcast, then that's a bonus. Forget the dishes.

 So those days were good. But today was bad. This morning I abruptly handed the grouchy baby to Matt and said "I have to take a shower. You take him." I expected to hear screaming when I turned off the water, but I poked my wet (successfully no-poo'd!) head out of the bathroom door and found Matt serenely reading Plutarch's Life of Dion aloud to Scott as he sweetly slumbered on the bed. They were even holding hands.

So I expected it to be a nice peaceful day while Matt was gone, but it has been miserable. Bubs has been fussy about nursing for a few days now, so that I've somewhat flipped my protocol. Instead of nursing him to sleep, I'm sleeping him to nurse. If I can rock or walk him to sleep, he nurses before he wakes up fully, or I can sometimes slip him a nip while he's still conked out. The problem today was that I couldn't get him to sleep! The poor baby has been crying in the most weak little pathetic hungry tired fashion all day, shaking his head and grimacing when I offer him the breast, and making the saddest little lip trembles when I set him down. Finally I took him on a walk in the wrap, through a little wooded park nearby, and he fell asleep before I left our yard. I walked a long while but by this time I was very hungry and tired as well, so I gave him an early bath and with not too much screaming I rocked him to sleep, and there he angelically whimpers next to me now. He probably won't wake up except to nurse again until six a.m. or so.

My fifteen+ hour day of nearly constant fretting is now done and I think I deserve a beer. I always think I deserve a beer. We've become religious daily beer drinkers since becoming parents. I mentioned to Matt that perhaps we should cut back on this what some might call frivolous expense, as a 12-pack of non-donkey-piss beer per week adds up to $50 or $60 per month. He gravely rebuked me. "It's really important." I perceived my error and agreed that here I would not scrupulously scrimp. What price sanity?


  1. Just in case you haven't read the whole poem:

    "Babies Don’t Keep"

    Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
    Sew on a button and butter the bread.

    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

    Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
    Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
    Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
    Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

    The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
    But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

    It's actually one of my favorite poems, probably because I need to be reminded of the sentiment expressed. I have to remind myself daily that my kids are more important that keeping my house. I can keep it when they're gone. If you're able to have this attitude right from the get go you are on the right track!

    1. aw, thanks for sharing! That's very sweet!