Reality v. Expectations
We had Gwen as our ‘practice baby‘ and well – there is no practicing for the real thing. I don’t mean that it is harder or easier to parent than to babysit but it is different. Gwen had her own habits and routines from home that we benefited from (and cultivated – I take credit for her interest in neatness). Lucas is a fresh slate and it’s up to us to set the guidelines.
In some ways we do a great job. Lucas is a happy and smart boy. We encourage him to be adventurous but safe – he can access almost all the kitchen cabinets and knows to always go down a step/couch/bed feet first. He is an avid reader, has great small motor skills and innate musical talent.
Other areas we struggle – most notably sleep, aka setting boundaries and establishing structure. I was never a person who was bothered by babies crying but now I can’t stand it. A bedtime would probably be best for all of us but it breaks my heart to think that he feels alone and unloved at night. Each passing week he gets a little older and a little fussier (i.e. sleep deprived temper tantrums). He doesn’t understand the cause of these emotions but we do and it’s on us to make the hard choices and be his parent, not his friend.
My little chunk took to nursing from the moment he was handed to me in post-op. Initial latching was painful (for a few seconds) for the first three months but then it was easy street. I love not having to bring a bottle when we go out or worrying about formula recalls. It’s also great in the middle of the night when all I have to do is sit up to feed him. Since I work, I have to pump and it’s not my favorite thing. When I first went back to work I would cry when I pumped (hormones!), now it’s just a chore. My job keeps me on the move and during the summer months I had to make sure I was by a fridge (and didn’t forget it when I left). Finding privacy to pump when I’m not at my office is also a challenge.
However, it’s a small price to pay for the convenience I experience most of the time and the bonding with Lucas. I plan to start weaning in the coming weeks and I worry about it. Lucas is definitely a comfort nurser and I don’t know how I’ll soothe him during this transition. And since this is all he’s ever known I worry about his sensitive disposition.
I honestly haven’t considered how I’ll handle the transition emotionally but I have to believe I’ll find some comfort in wearing bras and normal shirts again and not traveling with a pump around all day at work.
This is both harder and easier than I thought it would be. The weekly routine is just that and I don’t sit at my desk all day crying (although I do scroll through pictures on occasion) so in that respect it’s easier than I imagined. That said, not a day goes by where I don’t wish I was with Lucas more than I am. I like working and I think daycare is good for Lucas but I love being with him and I know this time is fleeting. Evenings after daycare pick up and making dinner are simply not satisfying enough.
And honestly, daycare is expensive. I don’t feel like I’m being overcharged but I don’t feel like daycare is affordable (it’s literally the cost of our mortgage for 3 days a week). We could never do more days and we could never have another child with things as the status quo (not that this is something we’re planning anywhere in the near future).
Tied with the cost of daycare is the ability to balance life demands, motherhood and employment. Cleaning the house, doing dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, general house maintenance – let alone house projects – are so hard to fit in when Lucas is awake (which is basically always). And then curveballs like illness pop-up and we have no daycare and we have to figure out who can take off work. We are SO fortunate to have our parents close by (I literally can’t imagine the alternative) to help watch Lucas but again if Mr. B is sick or it’s during the week when my mom is working, it’s a challenge.
But it’s the best challenge ever and I’m so grateful for every moment of every day because I get to be this Little Meatball’s Mama.