Forget about the baby registry and daytime talk shows that are trying to sell me something I don’t need. THIS is what I really need…
6:30AM. Everyday. Every. Single. Day. It’s still dark outside, I am in and out of a deep river of sleep and then I hear it: the baby squeaks. ‘I’m awake now! I have lots of energy and a heavy diaper full of pee. I am furiously hungry and I WANT MY MILK!’
For someone like me who never and never will be a morning person, one could say this is a bit of a ‘culture shock’. Luckily for me, my body has changed after pregnancy making me more sensitive to caffeine. This means that one sip of coffee is equivalent to a shot of adrenaline to the heart. BOOM! I’m awake! BOOM! Diaper changed! BOOM! Bottle is ready! BOOM! Got you dressed! BOOM! Breakfast is made! No more snooze button for me, I just go straight to work with the help of my morning drug of choice-strong coffee in an oversized mug.
- A glass of wine
I’m not saying that I need to get hammered on a long line of tequila shots. I mean, that would fun, but I’ll save that for a special occasion like Mother’s Day. I just need to decompress and unwind. For me, that means a mini escape and I can’t think of something to aid in that escape better than alcohol. If I could sip on a glass of wine while I do something I enjoy like cooking, watching TV, reading or just sitting on my balcony and taking in the view, than I am instantly in a better mood. I’m more relaxed, less angry and better able to put things into perspective. Again, moderation is key. Notice how I said glass of wine and not bottle of wine. A glass of wine will make me sanguine whereas a bottle will lead to a tomorrow full of bloat, headache and misanthropy. Not a good look. Besides, a glass a day is supposed to be ‘healthy’, so I can justify it.
- A moment of silence
The modern age is full of noise. The dings from my cell phone, a call at an inopportune time, the email notifications, the door bell ringing for delivery, the baby crying because she either locked herself in or out of the gated play area (AKA ‘baby jail’), and so on and so forth. On the rare occasion that it’s quiet, I relish in the silence. It’s calming, it’s soothing and most importantly- I am able to finish a thought. If I am feeling ambitious, sometimes I even wander around the house discovering unfinished tasks I was interrupted mid-way through doing. Bonus points if I finish those tasks.
- A fucking break
My husband and I live abroad. There is no family nearby to help us out and because our move is comparatively recent, we don’t have trusted friends to turn to in case we need someone to watch our little one for something like a doctor’s appointment or anniversary dinner out. We could invest in a nanny but good nannies are hard to come by and I doubt any would take a part time position. It’s just us all of the time. It’s us in the morning, us in the day and us at night. We are on call for everything and always there for every snack and meal, diaper change, outside playtime, inside playtime, daytime nap, bedtime, scrape and fall, you name it. AND that’s fine. That was a choice we made and we don’t regret it but every once in a while, it would be nice to get a break.
Before I met my husband and had a child, I would lament my singlehood. “Oh, I’ll be alone for forever! No one will love me! I’m doomed to wander this world by myself”. Of course, that’s not true. Very few people are an island and to say that I was being dramatic was an understatement. Now I look back on my 20-something single self and just get angry at all the free time I wasted. I had hours upon hours of me time to do whatever the fuck I wanted. Shopping trips that last a whole Saturday afternoon, I could exercise any time of day for as long as I wanted, long lavish lunches with booze, mornings spent sleeping in, nights out with friends, uninterrupted TV binge watching. I had the time to read – and not just emails and the news online. No. I had time to read books! Actual books! AND in silence. Uninterrupted. OMG. I shed a tear thinking of all the ‘me time’ I was so ungrateful for. Now I fantasize about reading a book or sleeping in. One day…one day…
I need things to work. Oh my God, do I need things to work. If my baby is having a meltdown for an unspecified reason at the grocery store checkout, I need to get out of there in a hurry which means that I need the cashier to work the credit card machine properly. If I finally have the chance to sit down and pump breast milk, I need the machine to work. After all, I only have about 30min to do this and I have no time or patience wondering around with my sore tits out trying to get the pump to work. Shit happens, mistakes will be made and I will try my best to be as patient and polite resolving any problem that may arise. However, I have my role to play and job to do and I just can’t take on any more so I’ve got no time for faulty contraptions and people unwilling or unable to complete the task at hand. It’s not personal; it’s just mom business.
- I need you to be concise
I don’t mean to be insensitive. I know you have problems. Hey man, I got problems too and I want to be a good person and friend to you. The sisterhood is alive and well with me! I’m here for you. So, I’m going to listen…but… but could you hurry it the fuck up? Again, I want to listen and to empathize but it gets hard to do that when you stretch out your problem(s) to a long 20-minute diatribe where you use ‘like’ as every other word and often end sentences with a question mark.
“It’s like…I don’t know? Like…maybe he wasn’t hearing me? You know what I mean? Like I told him ‘I don’t know…I guess I’m just not in the mood to go out?’ You know what I mean? Like (shrug and facial expression). Yeah? Then he’s like, ‘I want to go out?’ Then we were like…ok. Should we go out? I mean…I don’t want to be a downer…so…Like…I don’t know… maybe it’s just me?
OMG. WHAT IS EVEN THE PROBLEM?!?! Record yourself. Transcribe it. Does it make sense? Could it use editing? Would you better be able to get your point across with less useless detail and more clear-cut statements? I have a little one who, while you are failing to convey the problem you have and how you feel about said problem, is now disassembling my phone and tearing up all of my business cards. I’m afraid I no longer have adequate time to decipher the words coming out of your mouth. Time is precious. Please, just be concise and talk in statements.
- Baby wipes
For everything and anything. Clean up butts, clean up high chairs, clean up messes on the floor, clean up grubby little paws (mine and everyone else’s). I can never have too many of these and I have a packet of them in every room of the house, in the stroller, in the diaper bag, in the swim bag. You name it, it’s there and it is always necessary.
- A kind word
I don’t mean to be a bitch if you don’t mean to be a bitch either. It’s tough enough taking care of a child, working from home, cleaning, cooking, staying sane and healthy, and all the other things expected of me. It would be great if I could get less criticism from complete strangers. I’m not saying I should live in a bubble and hear no evil but rethink if the advice and comments you give to me are:
- Invited (Did I ask?),
- Constructive (Will this help?)
- Not stating the obvious (Yes, I am aware).
One day, I was out in the local courtyard of my apartment complex. I was saying hello to a grandmother of a baby who was close in age to my daughter. Although I was relatively new to the neighborhood, this woman and I had spoken together and were on friendly terms with each other. We were cooing over each other’s baby and all of her friends were asking me questions. ‘How old is she?’ ‘Where are you from?’ etc, etc. One of the women who has said nothing so far, comes up to me, pats my stomach and says ‘And we have good news, huh? Another baby!’ I was not pregnant.
Listen lady, I know you know that I am not pregnant. There were other signs showing it, like the spanks so desperately trying to contain the flabby midsection and not a tight round bump let free and loose. You did that to be a dick and you know it because you walked away with a smile and satisfied look on your face laughing to yourself. Thanks for calling me fat in front of everyone. I’m aware of the changes to my body post baby, you know too because ALL WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD KIDS KNOW THIS. That’s why we don’t say anything about it. It’s just what happens. Your body goes all fun house mirror and doesn’t always snap back. Why be a dick about it?
Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion and I am entitled to think less of that opinion and the person so freely giving it. Many mothers out there are not seeking unsolicited advice (you’ll know if they want it when they ask for it). Chances are they have tried everything almost every trick in the trade to get their toddler to do x, y or z and as a result your suggestion might not be helpful. AND yes, chances are, they are aware. If you really want to be helpful, all you have to say is something nice. As Michelle McNamara once said, ‘It’s chaos, be kind’.