The baby started crawling last week. Aannnnnnnndddd he’s OFF!
Eight months is a great age.
As soon as they start crawling there’s the shock of seeing the kid they will become. Babies grow up so fast! Isn’t it amazing, this time last year I was pregnant with him and had no idea who he was, dream baby, the unknown sibling. Now, he’s this total personality! He’s such a cool baby. He’s SO HAPPY. He meets the world with joy, just smiles and laughs and chills out. Though, now he’s crawling, there’s another side of him emerging, he’s going to want to get into everything – like his big brother.
The past month, it feels as though bub has picked up his invitation to join the party. Look at you, not a little baby anymore! Sitting in your high chair concentrating on picking up those pieces of avocado. Feeding yourself! You are halfway to toddler, my bubba!
I remember the little dude at that age. It was about the time I started to want to go back to work, and also, it was when I started to really properly enjoy him. I felt sad the phase would pass so quickly, he was so much fun, he was so FUNNY, his bubbly laugh and the way he wanted to play games with me. But, I was eager to rebalance my life. Being at home alone with him all week was driving me round the bend. We have a lovely photo of the first week back at work, I got a haircut in my lunch break and then met up with my husband (who was home that week with the little dude), and we took a photo. I look so happy in that shot. Phew, made it through the year!
Right on cue, that EXACT SAME FEELING now. Oh kids you are so cute, oh kids I really need to not be with you all day because the overexposure is robbing me of the joy in your company.
Before I had kids, I didn’t understand the mums who said “going back to paid work made me a better mother”. Now I’m totally on board with the sentiment. Ok, so it’s part-time, which is a really big caveat, and I’m not sure how I’d feel if it were longer hours. I loved our afternoons, picking him up with enough time for a trip to the park on the way home, enough time to go to Te Papa on a rainy day. It truly was the best of both worlds. You might notice, reading these blogs, that 2015 has a markedly more up-beat feel than the two rounds of maternity leave either side.
It’s such a dirty little secret of parents with jobs we enjoy, the little sly in-joke oh, I love being back at the office, are you serious, the kids all the time?!?! We know we’re not representative of all caregivers, but still – the Monday morning relief! Someone I used to work with said he loved hiring parents because on Monday mornings they were fresh and bright and eager. I wrote him off as a bit strange at the time. Then when I was on maternity leave with the little dude, in that summer holiday before I went back to work, people would ask me how I was feeling about going back and I found myself GUSHING about how excited I was. LUNCH BREAKS, FOLKS! LUNCH BREAKS!!!
And not just the lunch breaks. The ability to finish measurable tasks. Being out of the house unencumbered. I’m lucky I like my work, I loved switching off the mum brain and switching on the legal brain. I loved having adult conversation unrelated to chores or children on a daily basis! I loved the whole shtick, put the work clothes on – look at me, not in old maternity leggings, not in sneakers! I loved picking him up from creche knowing that he’d done cool activities and had a cooked lunch and none of it was my responsibility. Here I am gushing again.
I also like that going back to work makes other people value my time more. It’s bullshit this is true, but it is true.
I like that it gives me a focus outside of home and kids, so I don’t end up directing my intellectual energies at making the chores more efficient. ‘Cause that’s a bit of a downer, really.
Mostly though, going back to the office meant that suddenly life with the little dude became pretty solidly enjoyable time spent with my rascally giggle bundle, something I treasured, something that made me smile through the day at work and grin ear to ear when I picked him up – not endless groundhog-day slog, like it feels when I’m at home full-time.
And, I became more peaceable in the frustrating moments. I wasn’t overloaded with the constant need for attention all the time. I could enjoy mornings more, enjoy evenings more. I didn’t mind so much when he needed extra attention before bed, I had it to give.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been more short-fused with the little dude and less playful. There are still plenty of good times – the swings, especially, now that I can push them both side by side. It’s not really the lack of good times that bothers me. It’s how irritable I am the rest of the time, how thin-skinned to the realities of toddler wrangling, how impatient I’ve been lately. I’ve had time away from them every weekend for a few weeks, but it’s not enough. I’m emotionally fatigued from eight months of long days, eight months of tested patience. It’s a horrible feeling because I don’t trust my reactions to the little dude when I feel like this. I have to consciously review them, and that’s another layer of emotional work, and I’m just too over it to know whether I’m pitching things right. I’m self-aware enough to recognise, last week when I was yelling at him for flinging nappy balm everywhere all through the clean washing, that he’s just two and two year olds are just like this, and getting shitty doesn’t help. But it’s so hard not to snap at the provoking behaviours.
I mean c’mon.
Five bloody minutes unsupervised is too much to ask apparently.
He’s been jumping on the baby and STOP JUMPING ON YOUR BROTHER, HE DOESN’T LIKE IT, THAT HURTS HIM.
GET OFF HIM RIGHT NOW.
THAT’S IT, YOU WILL STAY IN YOUR ROOM BY YOURSELF UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO BE GENTLE.
Every time I snap, I feel like it’s points deducted from the day and we need to try and redeem it, and at the end of the day I’m just sinking down with the weight of the clamouring, always clamouring, and ARGHHHH just LEAVE ME ALONE. Today was meant to be a creche day but, long story short, he didn’t end up going. I think he saw it as ok, he cutely sang me a lullaby when I said I was tired, right before pulling my hair and jumping on the bed. Grroooooaaaaannnn.
I want to enjoy the next three weeks because I’m going back to work right before Christmas and it’s so soon! But honestly I just think, shit, tomorrow I have to do it all again and I have no faith in my own fortitude for the day at the moment.
It’d be different perhaps if there were more people around during the day to spend time with, people who don’t have their own children to wrangle, but there’s no-one.
Anyway, nice to be clear on it eh? Different strokes and all that, if some people don’t want to do paid work outside the home when kids are little, good on them. But wow I’m going to DANCE into the office on 15 December. If you see a woman grinning ear to ear like she just won the lottery waltzing down Lambton Quay that morning, it’ll be me.