I thought that the wait was long and hard when I was pregnant. One thing that never occurred to me before I was pregnant was how much time I would sit and wait. This is before taxiing my child to soccer games and band practice. Before I would ever have to take the baby to the emergency room. This is just the waiting for her to pass out, or to wake up, or to finish eating. I saw an article while I was pregnant somewhere in the inter-webs that was titled to the effect “Mom Problems” and it pictured a cartoon woman holding a sleeping baby while running low on cellphone battery and the cord is too short. I could imagine. At least I thought I could.
So I got used to it. I would try to put baby to sleep and 90 minutes later, she would be down. By the end of the day I would ask myself “what am I so exhausted for? I didn’t really do anything…” But oh yes I did. Parents out there agree, the waiting combined with the natural rhythms of caring for a baby suck up all your time and your energy.
I started to ask myself. How in the world can I wait better. I am not a multitasking super mom. I tend to really go with the flow. But I realized that I was losing my days and my nights without much to account for my time. I thought of a few little tips for the woman in waiting that I think might just help other moms who are feeling the same way.
1. Create your own activity station. It sounds sort of silly, but I am considering making myself my very own little play center in my daughter’s nursery. She and I spend a lot of time sitting in the same chair. I feed her there, I often try to get her to sleep there, too. The thing is, after she is asleep, I pretty much cannot move for between 21 and 39 minutes after she passes out or the whole charade starts over. So what about placing a couple of really good books, a few magazines, an iPhone charger and a granola bar there (or bottle of wine?) I know I have created little convenient nooks around the place so that changing diapers is a breeze. What about me and my time waiting for baby to hit rem? Pretty good idea, huh?
2. Try not to get stranded. I grew up in a household where my mom stayed at home. She was very busy with five little kids. There was much to do, and a big house for all of us to spread around and make a mess in. I remember my mom keeping a radio, a boombox, and a stereo going simultaneously in a number of different rooms. Now I understand her genius. No matter where one of us kids were when we needed to feed, she could hear a radio story or a song. She never got stranded without anything to keep her mind going. When Anouk was first born, I did the same thing. NPR could operate as a grey noise to her but could stimulate me when I found myself feeding her then holding her for a couple of hours. My husband doesn’t love the NPR all the time, but it has helped keep me from sitting in a dark room not sleeping while she was…. Thanks “fresh air.”
3. If you can anticipate when you will be waiting… You are in pretty good shape. Sometimes a long nap comes out of nowhere and you feel like you need to get going to be someplace or do something. That can be a little tough. I started to try to use this as time to pray and meditate. It is the opposite of my natural instinct. I usually would try to cook something, clean something, or fantasize about cooking and cleaning something, out of desire not to live in a pig sty. I am beginning to let me mind rest. This may sound a little hippy dippy, but when I was at about 3 months in, I started to realize how shaken up I was by having the girl. I realized how wild I looked to the outside world, swaying uncontrollably when I heard a baby cry. I tried to use the techniques that I had picked up in years of yoga, and prayer books. I began to enjoy the stillness. It helped my soul…
4. This last one is also hard for me. It is the thing I need to work on the most. But waiting is a really good opportunity to take account of ALL OF THE GOOD STUFF THAT IS HAPPENING IN LIFE. A wonderful baby, a healthy life, the love of a baby. Whatever it is you can realize is a wonderful gift for you to experience. I am finding that if I account for these things with a pen and paper, the list serves as a reminder for the days that I am tired and really worn out.
I believe that we fundamentally should try to be awake during our lives. We need to really live in those still moments. What do you do when you are at home under baby? Let me know!!!