The couch. I am on the couch. Conveniently far far away from the five unfolded loads of laundry piled on my closet floor, unmade bed, and bathrooms in dire need of cleaning. I sit surrounded by the plate I used for lunch, the XXL large cup I used for coffee during the baby’s morning nap, a tray of the baby’s hardly eaten PB&J slices, and baby curled up at my feet on his nap mat…. taking a very, very late nap.
I am exhausted.
Ya know, I had such high hopes for my life as a SAHM. (SAHM = Stay At Home Mom) I really did. I would wake up super early, be super productive, and do all of the housework before anyone else even stirred. He’d be sleeping 12 hours, so I’d have plenty of mommy time. I would have time for hot coffee and a good workout. I would be efficient and follow a color-coded schedule. We’d do learning activities every day, attend mommy & me classes a few times a week, and enjoy outdoor air every afternoon.
In reality, I excitedly set a 5:45 am alarm every night, and I angrily shut it off every morning. His best sleep is after 6:30 am. I just can’t bring myself to miss out on his longest continuous stretch. I just can’t tear myself out of the bed after I’ve been up what feels like 17 times to make 3 bottles, change two diapers, fumble for gas drops, measure out Tylenol, adjust the thermostat, and oh, go to the bathroom five gazillion times.
I. Am. Tired.
Chaotic doesn’t even begin to describe our mornings. By the time clothes are on, breakfast is somewhat eaten, and the house kind of picked up, we’re both ready for a nap. I put him down and I stay awake. The nap will do me no good. I wake more tired and cranky. A lesson I learned early on during this gig. And plus, it’s really my only “mommy” time since I’ve been slipping on the AM gym trips. But morning nap time. Oh, it’s my favorite time of the day.
Sigh. I make coffee. Oh, my dear coffee. And I sip on that cup like I need it to live. Well, because I do, more than anything. For the sake of my sanity, at least.
And then that caffeine rush brings so many hopes, so many plans, so many daydreams. It never fails. I pull out my beloved planner, markers, post-its, you name it. And I go to town. I even started a bullet journal, so that I could track my 5 am wake-ups, workouts, learning plans, no-spend days, weight loss, and cleaning schedule. (Ha!)
And then the caffeine wears off, he wakes from his nap as if he’s the one who just downed caffeine, and all I have enough energy to do is go roam target so that he can burn off energy and I can window shop while snacking on something chocolaty and avoid all of the actual work I need to do. I won’t feel as bad when the work’s still there tomorrow, because well, I wasn’t home. Great logic, right?! So, yeah. I’ll just do it when I’m not as tired… Or when I have more energy… Or when he sleeps better… Or when he sleeps in… Or this weekend… Or next week. It’s a never-ending cycle. I know.
And then I wake up feeling like crap and overwhelmed as my to-do list gets longer and longer and the piles of laundry grow. I think the record for finding a matching sock is up to 4 min 37 seconds. That was a bad day.
But every evening, I look over at this unbelievably cool kid. I laugh along with his contagious giggles, watch him play, and help him master new milestones, and I am reminded of three things.
- This too shall pass. I’ll be wishing for these days in a few years. I’ve got to learn to enjoy the chaos. I won’t remember the day that my house was cleanest. I won’t care to know how many days I put the laundry straight away. But I will remember playing peek-a-boo with our massive comforter in the hallway. Throwing dozens of socks off the bed just to admire his curious amazement at the concept of gravity. I don’t want to look back hoping I’d enjoyed it more.
- He only cares that I’m here. He doesn’t notice the dishes and the laundry. He doesn’t care if the floors need to be mopped. He just wants to be held close, to be tickled for the hundredth time, and to be included. He wants to be watched as he pushes his toy back across the floor for the eighteenth time. He loves a good yelling contest when he can’t see me from his play space. Mama needs a bathroom break every now and again. He wants to know I haven’t left, but it also makes him laugh so hard that he can’t stand when I sneak back around the corner. He’ll hardly remember any of these moments, if at all. But in his reality, now is all that matters.
- There is no award for the best SAHM. I will not win for doing the most consecutive amount of dishes. I don’t get recognition for keeping to an exact schedule. There is no competition for the cleanest closet or most creative meals. As long as dinner’s edible, we can piece together outfits for tomorrow, and the house is still standing, I most definitely deserve guilt-free family time once the wife gets home. Those are the memories we’ll all laugh and tease about years from now. Creating those moments is the most important work.
There’s always tomorrow for the lists and the stress and the arbitrary deadlines. Really, who cares? Not this baby… who’s somehow made it from his nap mat to my arms and has fallen back asleep in record time. (He’s going to be up all night, huh?) His needs are simple and don’t require the fancy bullet points, pens, and highlighters: a nurturing heart, a sense of humor, and an open lap… and his day is set. Oh, and a strong back. 11 month olds do NOT like to be put down. Ouch.