|Photo by John Broeckel|
I'm a stay-at-home-mom to a nineteen-month-old. A surprising number of people ask me, "What do you do all day?". It's almost never a person who is currently a mother to a baby or a small child. Because if you were, you would NEVER ask such a thing.
Maybe the curious cat who is asking said absurd question has seen me walking behind Sabine as she totters down the sidewalk. And maybe it looks like we have all the time in the world; nowhere in particular to go; and not a single care. When it comes to Sabine, that's exactly what's happening inside her blossoming brain. In my case, that's a big fat lie.
What do I do all day? Today, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a huge headache from the two glasses of celebratory almond-flavored champagne I had yesterday. It didn't matter that I needed more sleep and felt like dog vomit because Sabine was ready to start her day. Her dad goes into her room and plucks her out of her cage, uh, I mean crib, changes her diaper and carries her into our room. She's yelling (seriously yelling, foghorn-style), "maaaa, maaaa, maaaaMA!" the entire time. He puts her on our bed with me and I offer her a water-and-juice cocktail. She takes a gulp, THROWS the cup over the side of the bed and starts pointing to my chest yelling, "mi. mi. mi. MIIIIII!" demanding the breast milk that I am trying so desperately NOT to give her anymore. I try to distract her with Sesame Street while I run downstairs and grab her a cup of yogurt that Kadin can feed her while I take a shower. My warm shower is lovely for the first two minutes, until Sabine notices I'm gone, comes into the bathroom and holds the shower door open so that water pours onto the floor. Soon enough, her pajamas are soaking wet and I am freezing cold. I rush the rest of my shower and towel off the soap I didn't have time to rinse.
Then I try to get dressed. Since Sabine wants to do whatever I'm doing, she tries to get dressed, too. This means she pulls all of my clothes out of every drawer she can reach, then runs around the room with a bra or pair of underwear on her head. She then decides she's tired of being upstairs so she starts throwing toys, or any object, down the stairs so that we will (and she will be allowed) to go down and stay down. I try and stall the descent by offering her toothpaste and a toothbrush (she loves this activity for some reason) so that I can put away all of the clothes she's dumped out.
Now we're downstairs (husband is upstairs getting ready for work, which really means he is reading the newspaper online and watching TV), where I proceed to get Sabine dressed, feed her what she wouldn't eat upstairs, change her diaper at least two more times (during which she runs away and sticks her hands into her own poop, getting it everywhere, which then leads to changing her clothes again and/or a morning bath). In addition (and this is all happening before 9:00 a.m.), I TRY to make myself some coffee, eat a protein bar, put on a little makeup, brush my hair and brush Sabine's hair--always a highly dramatic event. Again, picture lots of running way, crying out and lopsided ponytails.
We are outside fairly early and Sabine is running down the sidewalk. I run after her the whole time, making sure she doesn't run into the street or pass a driveway as a car is coming out. Or step in dog poop or try to drink from puddles on the sidewalk--both of which she does all the time. Since she refuses to ride in the stroller, I usually end up carrying her (Kadin always tells me to stop because she weighs as much as "a small safe." He's not wrong.). The rest of the day includes feeding her lunch, much of which she spits out or throws on the floor; changing many more diapers; putting back the contents of the drawers and cupboards she empties; removing her from tables, chairs and bookshelves she's scaled; and busying her with as many activities as I can think of...all of which she tires of quickly. If we color or use playdough, she eats the crayons or the dough. She rips the pages out of the coloring books.
For naptime, I lay down with her until she falls asleep and then sneak out. Before falling asleep, she destroys her room. She pulls all of the books from the bookshelf and takes all of her diapers from her changer. She hides in the closet and throws all of the pillows from the bed and the rocking chair onto the floor. She empties her toys chest and the contents of her play kitchen. When she finally passes out, I try to write. The respite lasts no more than two hours so I get very little done.
When she wakes up, we have a snack, more outside time and short-lived activities until her dad comes home. I then DEFROST dinner (thank you, Trader Joe's). I hate cooking and by dinnertime, I'm exhausted. I'd like to order takeout and drink a glass of wine while I wait for it to be delivered but Kadin and I agreed that I would "make" dinner three nights a week (he makes it two nights, and we eat out on the other two nights).
Sabine empties more contents of the kitchen while I do dinner because she has to be where I am EVERY SECOND. This frees her dad up for more leisurely laptop time. Lucky him. But dad gives her a bath and puts on her pajamas after dinner (and a little TV time) and I get to relax for a whole twenty minutes. Then it's story time, and finally--bedtime! Again, we lay with her until she falls asleep and then transfer her to her crib. Kadin usually falls asleep before Sabine, which means she can't fall asleep because he snores so loud that I want shove a fork into my eye socket. Or his nose so that maybe he'll stop snoring. She eventually drifts off like dad. I put her in the crib and gently wake him up so we can tiptoe out.
It's now just past 9:00 and if we are lucky, we can keep our eyes open long enough to talk and spend a little time together. But sometimes we can't.
So that is what I do all day. It's more exhausting and requires more patience and dedication than working at any of the major fancy, glossy, 9-to-8 magazine jobs I've had. And though I joke, it's also a hundred times more rewarding, interesting and thoughtful. I just detailed all of the gruesome parts in an an effort to explain how laborious this ginormous job is. But there are so many wondrous and hysterical moments that accompany the crazy ones.
Today's blog post is birth control. In one of the next ones, I will tell you why and how lucky I am to be Sabine's mama. And assuming you can make it through the first sleepless year, you will want to procreate and over populate this country just like the rest of us with a little monster similar to Sabine.