Things to do instead of working…

One of my friends posted a photo album in Facebook with this title last week.  She displayed all the amazing things she has been doing to avoid working on her English PhD dissertation.  A master procrastinator myself, it made me realise that I left procrastination out of my musings on what people get up to when they are not working.  I was in awe of the fabulous and worthy things my friend had been doing in order to avoid what she ‘should’ be doing.  Crafty, earthy and really very impressive.  All things I would count myself lucky to have achieved in the past six months!

This also made me realise that since having Kazuo, there is really little room for procrastinating about the things that ‘should’ be done for him… which are the things that fill my days… if I don’t wash/sterilise/fill his bottles, he goes hungry and I know all about it… if I don’t get the washing done, well, nappies and clothes and burp cloths et al are daily necessities… and if meals are not on the table, well, we all get hungry and grumpy… and I would be extra exhausted if I had to stay up later to do these things after he went to bed just because I had dillied about during the day in my previous fashion…

As someone who carried about an enormous box and a huge pile of guilt over major marking procrastination (I know… the worst kind of teacher, one who insists on work being handed in on time… and then takes ages to get it back… I hated me too!), there is something quite amazing about not getting to the end of each day and feeling overwhelmed about how much I did NOT get done today.  Even when the tasks themselves seem dull and repetitive.

Thus, it seems, that having a baby has cured my insomnia (who has time to lie awake all night when they are already exhausted from getting baby-induced broken sleep?), turned me from a night-owl into someone who sleeps between 10pm-6am, and rises daily with the birds, and re-ordered my priorities so that I have to get the important jobs done every day or I would not hear the end of it from the tiny one.  What a feat!

I am Back… I Hope…

Well, a few intense months have passed. And I think I may now be able to get into some kind of routine that means I can post here more often.

We moved house… with a four month old baby, that felt like quite a feat, and I am in awe of the friends who have not just moved house, but moved countries with small babies… I have done both kinds of moves many times… and the moving countries type… much harder!! Anyway, moving day was amazing. About 15 friends showed up around 8.30am, and by 10.30am we were all unloaded at the new house! Even more incredible though were the friends who stuck around until later that afternoon and unpacked for us. That was definitely the part I was not looking forward to doing once everyone had scarpered, so it was amazing to go to bed that night with most of our worldly goods in their new places.

Kazuo seemed to thrive on the move. He quickly settled into napping in his crib in his new room, something he was not doing in the old apartment. And although he seems to have stopped sleeping for 8 hours at a stretch, and is waking for an extra feed at 1/2am again, this seems partly due to his new ultra-wriggliness, and partly due to teething and having a bit of a growth/development spurt, so I assume this too will pass. He has recently also become really easy to settle… and so we are hoping that it will not be long before he is self-calming and getting himself off to sleep.

For now, the big deal has been that Dada can suddenly get him to sleep now too… for a couple of months there it was all Mama Mama Mama… and Mama’s hands/arms were really feeling the pain. The Wash U Back Pain Study people have been taking good care of me… but I never anticipated that motherhood would be all about the chronic pain. Ugh!

However, motherhood has also been quite a joy as well… having time just to enjoy the wee things our little pop is learning to do each day has been a real pleasure. I am so grateful for the slow pace of our new life. And not having to choose whether to go back to work or not (since my short-lived work permit has now expired) seems like such a luxury and yet at the same time like I have been given permission just to be Kazuo’s Mama.

So Kaz has been sitting up since he turned four months, and seems fascinated enough by our eating to make the big transition to solid food next week when he hits the five month mark. Suddenly the developmental milestones are racking up quickly, though I am trying to resist the urge to will him onto more precocious development as I am sure that the days will fly by anyway.

It is summer in the Lou… and seems somehow less unbearable than last year, but maybe that is the absence of pregnancy hormones and morning sickness. I am on a mission to seek out suitable sunshade for our little guy so that we can spend more time by the local pool, though I am not really bikini-ready… but my excuse is the back pain slowing down my workout plan… and it can wait. The summer won’t though, so I am looking about for discrete ways to hide the post-partum plumpness.

We are enjoying BBQ weather… and I have discovered the ease of grilling up some amazing Morningstar delights, though when I get some more time (sooooon I hope) I am planning some more home-style taste-sensations, there is nothing like a good lentil burger or aubergine steak to make it feel like summer.

So… have made it through another sunny STL day… and loving not working right now!

Getting There

Where have the days gone? Our little guy has been with us for nearly 8 weeks now and it all seems to have passed in a blur. I look around me and see jobs piling up and wonder when I will ever have the energy or the time to get on with doing things that before were a matter of course. It is the same for all new mothers I am sure, but when it happens to you, it seems much more intense than you imagined. I am feeling a new sense of shame daily for the ways in which I may not have been too sensitive to the new mothers I was friends with or lived with/near in the past…

So we start each day in a bit of a daze, but needing to get fed, showered and ready for Dada to leave the house for work. Then it is a cycle of crying, wriggling, squirming, puking, pooping, sleeping, eating… and occaisionally wriggling on one’s tummy, or listening to stories or songs. If we are lucky (and I am making a real effort to make sure we are…) we leave the house for a few hours on some kind of outing… to the shops or for a walk in the neighbourhood.

On the weekend, after a massive spring clean, I spent an hour at the laundromat with our duvets while the little man and Dada went for a walk to the university. I realise that was the longest time we have been apart since he was born. Weird! So the next day, after much haggling, I left the house again for an hour or so to go get frozen yoghurt with a friend… and we survived both separations! It helps that Dada has been hands on from the start and really loves spending time with the wee squirmer. So now I just have to be a little more chilled out about getting time to myself.

This is work for me now… and a labour of love. It is not a coincidence that they call the birth process labour. And even if not all of us go through active labour to bring our wee people into the world, the work of nurturing and sustaining them stills falls rather heavily on our shoulders – by accident or design. In my case, due to various rather disappointing circumstances at the time, I am rather more free than I had originally expected to be to leave our little guy in the care of others. But since my husband is the principle immigrant upon whose status our work permits depend, we do not have the luxury to reexamine the caregiving for now. And we do not see any benefit in leaving him with others so I can return to paid work just yet. So I am ‘choosing’ this work for now.

It is isolating being so new in a place that we do not know any other women in the same position. I would love the company some days of people in similar circumstances. No-one prepares you for the isolation and frustration of being at home daily, with the same mundane activities to perform in the company of someone who does not talk to you, but expresses their intense neediness in often ear-splitting cries… all of which are apprently calibrated finely to communicate the exact nature of the need… sadly these cries are virtually indecipherable to the untrained (adult) ear!! So most of the day is spent trying to intuit the needs… until one magical day when you realise you have become the expert at this little fellow, and by a process of elimination can usually figure out what he is trying to say after all!

This is the point at which one also realises that one has become that dreaded thing… the woman who talks of nothing other than her baby as that is all she does all day! So I am going in purusit of things to distract me… though at present, finding time for anything other than the work of motherhood still seems elusive… but I guess I shall then just have to stop talking!!