Sometimes, I tell people I came into this whole stay-at-home-mom gig “kicking and screaming”. This is my way of pointing out that until Simon was born, I never fancied myself wanting to stay home. My goals and future dreaming always had me working from 9-5, earning a paycheck, sending my child off to school/preschool/childcare for the day, and having the family reunited over a big dinner. I believe now that this idea, for me anyway, was purely based on societal influence of what was considered the “normal” ideal. It is right for some people, but turned out not to be right for me.
There are days when I feel like a complete failure in my new role as the parent who stays home. I have never been good at managing clutter, I get lazy about cooking, and some days I find myself just struggling to get through to the end. However, like with any job, there is a learning curve, and I am getting there little by little. I am finding ways to make things go smoother for us, ways to prioritize, little tricks for getting things done, and a sense of routine.
One of the best parts of our daily routine, part which I did not always enjoy but have grown to love, is the morning time I spend with my little guy. When I first began this stay-at-home adventure, mornings were a great cause of guilt for me. I felt pressured to jump out of bed, seize the day, and accomplish the things on my to-do list. Admittedly, this pressure was put upon myself, but I just figured that was how it is supposed to be done. I have now found a slower pace that works better for both Simon and I, and it is much healthier for us both to go more slowly when we can, enjoying the moments we are in.
Our mornings are special, just the two of us. I wake to the sounds of Simon talking over the baby monitor. He doesn’t cry or call out, he simply carries on a conversation with himself…or maybe he is talking to his stuffed animals. On occasion he has entire grand adventures in his crib, complete with a cacophony of sound effects and lots of crib diving and jumping. When his play and chatter finally filter their way through my dreams, I wake, and slowly drag myself from the bed.
When I find him he is almost always cheerful, and has something pressing to tell me. It is something funny like “Mumma! Bunny needs his medicine!”. I always play along with the imaginary scenario, and we talk about it excitedly while I change his diaper. Then, we make our way to breakfast.
Being two-years-old apparently means having a ravenous morning appetite, and so breakfast is almost always immediate. We sit together, eating and conversing about the passing traffic and silly squirrels outside. Sometimes we listen to music, usually anything by Elizabeth Mitchell.
The moment Simon is done eating, it is time to play. This is where our mornings become sporadic and spontaneous. We might go from driving tractors along the floor (with the requisite “vroom” noises, of course), to painting watercolors, to building a block castle, and then back to the tractors again. Today Simon played with his dress-up bin, and modeled various outfit combinations for me, shouting “See Mumma!?” each time. We also drank tea side-by-side and chatted about our crazy kitties as they skittered around the house.
Eventually, we have played long enough, and it is time for a nap. I rock him, sing to him, and then tiptoe out into the more productive half of my day. This is when I take a shower and finally change out of my pajamas. (Unless we have spent the morning outside, in which case I am changing into clean clothes out of ones with little toddler dirt hand prints on them.) This is when I take out the recycling, change over a load of laundry, or pay some bills. Occasionally it is just some Mumma downtime, where I enjoy the stillness and quiet.
Yes, I used to feel bad about spending my mornings playing with dinosaurs and reading stories instead of washing dishes and mopping the floor. But now, I have learned to relish it. Someday my baby will grow up, and this special time will come to an end. So for now, I have decided that no schedule can be our schedule, and I am loving these mornings with my little one.