Sadly, I feel like society sometimes has a very biased and sugar-coated version of motherhood. An image from media that leaves us normal moms feeling like we're falling short. The celebrity moms photographed as they casually stroll the city streets with perfectly curled locks, flawless skin, trendy outfits; a latte in one hand and a smiling baby cooing away in the other. Hey... I'm not saying that you can't look good or leave your house as a new mom, but let's be honest... those days are sometimes very far and few between. The other days are spent in reality. The reality of being a new stay-at-home mom.
I love being a mom to a happy 7-month-old boy. Heck, I'll even risk telling you that he sleeps 12 hours a night. Now, before you say "you're just lucky," it's not like I magically birthed out a perfect sleeper, either. It took many hard nights, hours and hours of reading, sleep training, nap training, scheduling disasters, emotional meltdowns, mental breakdowns, sleepless nights, sleep deprivation and frankly, feeling like the only bottle I wanted to see at the end of the night was a bottle of vodka. I'm telling you that I have an easy baby to stress that even with an easy baby, I still struggle. I have no idea how I would cope with a sensitive baby, colicky baby or a baby that still woke up in the night. So if that is you... my heart goes out to you and just know you are doing a great job. I'm just here to shine a little light on both sides of the story.
Side # 1. The Happy Days
I casually wake up at 7:30 and saunter down the hall to the nursery. I peer into the crib to find a smiling baby who is patiently waiting for me to wake up. After nursing, he happily plays with his toys while I shower, put my makeup on and style my hair. We both get dressed in our best outfits for the day and after a wide-mouthed yawn, I lie him down in his crib. He smiles at me briefly and drifts off to sleep.
While he naps I enjoy a well-balanced breakfast and watch a morning talk show with a cup of tea. Then we play together, read some books and enjoy cuddles before I put him down for another nap during which I enjoy a warm lunch and prepare dinner in the slow cooker. He sleeps like a log through my food processor racket and when I finally hear his happy coos, I know it's time to wake up. He nurses efficiently and then we head out the door.
I walk aimlessly through downtown boutiques with a hot cup of coffee while he sleeps angelically in his stroller. He's still asleep by the time I come home, so I catch up on some banking and emails. I finish just as my hubby walks in the door. Dad takes our little man for a bath while I get dinner on the table. Our little man plays joyfully beside us in his bouncy seat as we enjoy a great conversation over a hot meal. Some goodnight kisses, then off to the gym as my hubby puts him to bed. Ahhhhh, life is good. Now is when the paparazzi would be welcome to snap a picture of my ideal life as a new mom.
But lets get real... here is what happens on the other days.
Side # 2 The Crappy Days
I'm jolted awake by a sound that evokes a Boeing 747 during takeoff. I jump out of bed, stub my toe on the teething ring that I threw across the room the night before, then head to the nursery. Judging by the fact that I don't need to turn on the lights, I know the moon is still out. I assume it's probably only 5:30 a.m.. Awesome. I lose hearing in my left ear as I reach down to grab my little one from his crib and as I cuddle him close, I feel something dripping down my hand. Oh, so that wasn't just a fart... thanks, little man. I place my bundle of diarrhea joy on the changing table and try to undress him while he flails around like a cat trying to get out of a bath. After he sticks his hand in his diaper and a foot in my boob, I manage to get him changed. Screw putting the sleeper back on. It's already stained radioactive colors, anyway. Now it's feeding time. I head over to the rocking chair. He nurses as if he just participated in a 30-hour famine, but still takes his sweet time. My arm is asleep, my hand in numb and I'm starting to resemble Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame after leaning over to re-latch him so many times.
Then I lie him down in the doorway for what should be playtime, only to have him projectile vomit, rendering his play mate better suited to be a slip-n-slide. Lovely. Back to the changing table. Fifteen minutes later, I've cleaned up all the puke and managed to get him into an outfit. Awwww, cute. His clean attire should last all of five minutes. Then I prop him in his bouncy chair so I can pee... but his cry would make you think that his foamy cushioned chair had been replaced with thumb tacks. Guess I'll hold it. At this point, he is definitely ready for a nap... and so am I. I draw the blinds, read a story that he ever-so-politely throws across the room, so I take the hint and lie him down. I get two feet away and out flies his pacifier. So I walk back and place it in again as he blinks heavy. Until I make it to the door and out comes the pacifier again... so I walk back and place the pacifier back in... Repeat 36 more times.
At this point, I'm considering using his diapers instead of trying to get to the bathroom on my own. Finally, I start the shower and you'd think the shower head was dripping bowling balls instead of water because he wakes up. So much for him sleeping or mommy showering. It's time for his second meal of the day and I haven't even had breakfast. So I grab my cheese string breakfast and to the rocking chair I go. This time, he takes a new approach to eating... instead of nursing, he decides to latch on and off like he's bobbing for apples at a county fair. An hour later he decides he's full. It's already 12 o'clock. So much for having dinner on.... heck, I don't even have a bra on yet. You would think I was handing him hot coal every time I passed him a toy because it comes hurdling back at me. He starts to yawn so I start his nap routine and things go smoothly.
Until the pacifier game... Repeat 24 more times. He finally falls asleep, but he has recently decided to trade in his two-hour naps for a 39-minute blink, so I know time is precious. And of course today he decides to be a light sleeper. Neat. I'm convinced that if one of my several THOUSAND stray hairs that I'm loosing fell onto the floor the wrong way that he would hear it. But my pump and bottles need to be cleaned, so I handle them like newborn butterflies, in fear that I may drop one and wake him up. After 25 minutes of kitchen acrobatics, I managed to clean a single bottle.
Since my time is dwindling before he wakes up I know I must multitask, so I grab my PB and J sandwich to take with me into the shower... hey, a soggy sandwich is better than no sandwich. You would think I opened a chain mail curtain in the bathroom because the second I get in and close the curtain he wakes up. Priorities... priorities. Wash my hair or shave?! I'd rather wash my hair because you can't see my furry legs in sweat pants, anyways. If speed showering was part of the Olympics, I'd be taking home gold. I quickly dry off and get dressed in the same outfit I had on before. Lets be honest... it's 4 o'clock and frankly, I got nowhere to be and no one to impress.
With my hair in a towel, I sit down to feed the baby. This time he starts sight-seeing like a tourist as if I completely redecorated his nursery during his nap. I burp him and I finally decide to change into real people clothes... a.k.a. not pajamas. Maybe I'll even manage to put some mascara on before my hubby gets home. (Here's to dreaming). I pick up my little one to place him in the jolly jumper and as if in protest of my new clothes, he empties the contents of his stomach down the front of my shirt... and to think, I bothered putting on a bra. I throw my clothes into the laundry pile that could possibly rival altitude of Mount Kilimanjaro and put my milk-stained tank top back on. I look at the clock. 5 o'clock. Daddy should be home any minute. As if in excitement my little one scrunches up his face... until I dreadfully realize that it isn't a look of excitement. It sounds like a water bomber just emptied into his diaper, so it's back to the change table for waste management. He looks like he just got back from a spa mud treatment, so into the bath for him. Finally, he is in a clean sleeper just as Dad walks in the door. He looks at me still in my pajama's, little H still in his pj's, my hair standing on end from air drying, no makeup on and asks "Hi sweetie... you look like you've had a relaxing day?! Let's catch up over dinner"
DINNER?! Heck I didn't even get to finish my peanut butter sandwich. Not to mention that our baby is overtired and needs to go to bed. Dad puts him to sleep while I finally brush my teeth. It's officially 7:45 and we are starving! So I MacGyver dinner out of wilted celery and a can of soup. At 9 p.m. "dinner" is served and then I finally sit down on the couch. I know I should go to the gym, but the only exercise I'm interested in is lifting off the throw pillows and heaving myself into bed.
So to all you new moms out there who don't have hair stylists, live-in nannies, personal trainers, makeup artists or house cleaners... not only are you not alone, but you are doing a great job. This is real life.... this is what being a stay-at-home looks like some days. As a new mom, you now know what it feels like to have a crappy day... literally and figuratively.
"Being a mother is hard and it wasn't a subject I ever studied." - Ruby Wax