Friday, February 28, 2014

End Of Maternity Leave Musings

10 days and no post?!

Well, Jack has had a runny nose and in the cold with its leakiness, I haven't much left the house with him. I took him for a doctor's appointment yesterday in the freeeeezing cold. During nap time. So I left early and walked there so he could nap in the stroller. That's love, man. But what was it all for? Nothing, really. He has a virus, non-contagious and even though it's last TWO WEEKS, it just has to run its course.

And I have one week left of maternity leave and this is how it gets spent.

I find myself really realizing what makes parenthood so challenging. It's not the loss of time, although that is an adjustment. It's not the new daily tasks you must perform, even though they're time sucks.

It's the not knowing how to do things.

It's wondering how to handle a baby when you've never cared for one and he's crying at night, even though he always sleeps through, and you don't know what his damage is this evening and maybe he needs Tylenol for teething (Is he teething?) or a bottle (Why is he hungry at 11 pm AND 5 am?)

It's wondering if he really should be eating purees still, and how are you going to manage dinner when mat leave is over because you never know what time your husband will get off work but your baby starts his bath routine at 6:30 and you won't even have him home till 5:00 after not seeing him all day, so make dinner?!

Should my baby be pointing? He's clapping and waving, but pointing is not happening. What do you mean 11-month-old babies can speak words? Does bababababa or dadadada count? He's walking everywhere! That's early? Why did he have to be advanced in the one area that makes life harder?! No, he's not using a spoon. He's gagging and vomiting if he doesn't care for the texture of what he's eating.

It's an endless sea of questions you don't have the answers to. You're enclosed in a dome of shoulds.

And now with barely no time at all left in my leave, I find myself almost mentally throwing in the towel. The daycare will help him now. I've done all I can, all I know how to do. I need to outsource some of this.

And of course it'll lead to other concerns: Is he getting enough attention? Is he eating enough at daycare? Sleeping enough? What's he doing now?

Sigh. Ambivalence.

It takes up a lot of mental space. It's the largest emotional investment I've ever made. I'm never done; there's always more issues and development and cleaning and mobility ahead.

I'm starting to forget life before Jack. Not intellectually. I recall lazy Sundays and brunch, going out for a movie in the evening, dinner invites on a whim, my friend's houses, quick travel. What I only vaguely recall is the lack of responsibility. I've acclimatized to being truly needed, physically depended on for life and survival. It's a part of my daily mentality. There's no going back.

And with that comes the sense all the shit I do now really matters. And it kind of does. Think about going home and eating dinner and talking to someone. Now what's for dinner plays into a child's growth and nutrition. The way I speak models language and behaviour. The way I interact with my husband around my baby teaches about relationships and communication. The toys I provide and the places I take him are opportunities for learning through play.

And these are everyday considerations.

Motherhood is not coal mining hard. It's not air traffic control hard. It's not being an astronaut hard. It's just... hard, in an unending sort of way.

And the really messed up part of it is how if you asked me if I'd take any of it away I'd look at you like you were crazy. This hardness, it's all mine. And the Dude's. Relinquishing it is horrifying.

And yet that's what mat leave ending is kind of about on a small scale. It's going to be a dizzying amount of personal freedom, coupled by sadness, along with worry and excitement at the end of the day. It's exhausting to think about.


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