There are things I used to take for granted. Things, that, were you to tell me would become beacons of hope, I would worry about my quality of life.
You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s the compendium of motherhood’s tiny triumphs:
Duh. We can all agree (or a lot of us anyway) that coffee is our new parental life blood and to be separated from our morning mug is to court psychosis and possible bodily injury to loved ones when they ask simple questions like: “could you grab <insert anything here> if you’re going upstairs?” or perhaps: “Good morning!”
- A Shower
For some reason, I was under the impression that once my baby hit six months, I’d be taking a shower every morning like clockwork. In my sleepless, postpartum blur, I told myself that once my kid was half-way to a year, I’d be living that good smelling, non-greasy life. That… never happened. Sure, I can shower when he naps. He naps two-three times a day but the naps can be anywhere from 25-75 minutes and so jumping in the shower is risky. I’ve all but given up on shaving my legs or blow drying my hair. Also, those naps are precious. Typically, I have to choose between cleanliness or productivity. I could wash the yogurt out of my hair and the drool off my extremities, OR I could wash the dishes, OR I could try and meet a writing deadline. Typically, overwhelmed with choice and not sure which is the most productive, I end up on the couch eating leftover pasta and watching Project Runway.
- A Beer
I appreciated beer before I was a mom, but back then a beer was a spontaneous, social thing. Now, the moment that kid is down for the night, I shuffle to the fridge and pull out a beer and take a deep breath while I pop the cap. When I tell you I enjoy that beer? I mean, next level enjoyment. That beer represents a very real distinction between baby time and personal time. I have a few hours between when Little Bear goes to sleep and when I go to sleep, and in those hours I tidy, I write, a lot of times I let my brain slowly drip out my ears while I futz around on Instagram. It’s my time, and my time is greatly improved with a hoppy little sidekick.
- A Hobby
Remember that? It was something you did outside of work and family time? Like, a little project you did to pass the time. Don’t laugh. We actually used to have those. I recently decided to try picking that up again. Botanical drawing is something I find lovely and so beyond my capabilities. I can’t draw, at all, but that makes it more fun because I’m starting from the bottom with no illusions that I will actually have the time to get even remotely proficient until I’m sixty and my kids are out of my house. I started it three weeks ago… I think I’ve maybe sketched a dozen petals. In three weeks.
I used to be a founding member of a book club. I was a literature major. I prided myself on my ability to read every day and knock off books weekly. I realize that sounds like bragging, and I probably did brag about it back then. Yeah. Back then. Now if I’m lucky I can manage to read two pages in bed before my forehead is sandwiched between the text and drool is slowly being absorbed into the pages.
I thought I understood my relationship to sleep. I thought a good night was getting eight uninterrupted hours. Now, if I get three hours in a row I feel like an absolute champion. If for some unknown reason my baby decides to sleep longer than that, I have to stop myself from signing up for an iron man I feel so good. The flip side to this, of course, is anytime my baby wakes up before three hours I turn into a sobbing shell of a person who can only rock back and forth while clutching a coffee mug and mumbling incoherently at the wall.
- Comfy Clothes
Notice I didn’t say actual clothes. Comfy clothes are a completely different category and, I’ve decided, far more satisfying than traditional clothing. Why wear something with a button and a zipper when you could wear something with an elastic waistband made from angora rabbits, or spun clouds, or llama tummy fur. They’re not ‘pajamas’ because that implies you only wear them to bed. This is all-day baby battle gear. Since you’ll be covered in spit up, pee, splattered puree, and other unknown items, it’s really the only thing that makes sense. You’ll be gross, but you’ll be comfortable.
- Partner Small Kindnesses
Your significant other lets you sleep in. Your significant other picks up some food on the way home for dinner. Your significant other makes breakfast. Your significant other tells you you’re looking nice that day. Any of these things before a baby would be gently appreciated. After a baby your significant other is a saint who has never been sexier than when they’re changing a diaper so you can drink your coffee while it’s still hot.
- Free Time
I remember this being a fun, relaxed time, where I would fill it with whatever struck my fancy. Now when I’m given a few hours to myself I have no idea what to do. A family member offers to watch the baby for a bit and sets you free to… what? It’s maddening. I spend the first twenty minutes of freedom debating what to do and secretly thinking I should be taking this time to sweep the living room so my baby stops shoving dust bunnies in his mouth. Eventually I’ll settle on something but by the time I get comfy, I’m usually panicked I need to get back and don’t really immerse myself in the freedom. Freedom is now, apparently, terrifying.
- Adult Conversation
I still haven’t figured out how to do that. Most of the time when I meet people without children, I stare blankly into their eyes and try to come up with some sort of topic that doesn’t involve weaning or nap schedules. Most of the time I am unsuccessful and watch as their eyes glaze over and they politely begin inching away.
It’s the little things… or maybe the lack of them. Onward and upward, parents. Just take it one, sleepless, lukewarm cup of coffee at a time.