Finding the time to write

I have a question for all you bloggers out there with young kids.

How do you find the time to write?

As you can see from the severe lack of content on this site lately, I’ve been having difficulty finding the time to write. There is just so much else to do!

I know that is a totally lame excuse. We all have lots to do, whether it’s kid stuff, work stuff, house stuff or other life stuff.

But seriously, how do you fit in time to write? I’d love some advice.

Sean and Flora are away, and doing just fine

Earlier today, Sean took Flora took a spontaneous trip to visit our friends Jason and Amanda and their six month-old son Thomas. They live a couple hours away so Sean and Flora are spending the night. She and I have never been separated for this long before, and never overnight. Judging from the phone calls I’ve had with Sean, it’s been harder on me than it has been on her.

During the first phone call, I could hear her babbling with Jason and Thomas while Sean told me he packed everything she needed and that everything was just fine. Once I told him that I planned to spend some of my free evening cleaning the tub, I received a verbal honey-do list of chores to do during my evening to myself. (Which interestingly enough, almost all involved poop: litter box cleaning, emptying the diaper pail and walking the dog. No one shits in our tub yet so cleaning the tub was a poop-free zone.) The second phone call was me calling to check in. I spoke to Jason as Sean was putting Flora to bed. I was worried because I do the whole bedtime routine unless I’m out of the house as I still nurse Flora right before I put her to bed for the night. Jason reported that he didn’t hear any screaming through the monitor and that she had had lots of fun all afternoon and into the evening. Jason said he saw Sean go up with a book so that meant that Sean remembered the book I read to her at bedtime. I heard him address Mr. Bunny while on the phone with me earlier so I knew she had the soft toy she sleeps with. Like he said, he had everything they needed and everything was just fine.

I just talked to Sean a few minutes ago and after some fussing, Flora finally settled and went to sleep. Considering she is sleeping in a playpen at someone else’s house and her mummy wasn’t there to help put her to bed, it doesn’t sound like she did too badly. I’m happy that she wasn’t being cranky for Sean, but sad because it felt like I was being left out of the fun. I am proud of both of them, but am looking forward to their return home tomorrow. The house is very quiet and I miss them both terribly. I do think this trip was good for all of us, and I hope Sean does it again while he’s off. It would just be nice if he did it on a weekend so I could sleep in the next morning!

Trying to fit everything in

Daddy and FloraMummy and FloraSo, where did the last few weeks go? I can’t believe July is more than half-over. We’ve been busy in the Mitchell household, but not uncomfortably so. We all adjusted to my being back at work without any major issues. I was amazed at how while lots had changed at the office while I was gone, it ultimately is “same stuff, different day”. Parenthood has really put my work life into perspective. It’s a lot easier to leave the worries and petty office dramas at the office when there is a small person at home who picks up on your bad moods and reflects them back at you. I’d rather have a happy baby during the precious few hours I get to spend with her between my arrival home and her bed time. It’s a lot easier to come home happy though – I really look forward to seeing Sean and Flora on the deck playing outside when I walk up the driveway or watching the two of them interact while Flora eats her dinner, or whatever they’re doing when I come home. I think Sean is really enjoying his time at home with her, and I hope that he will gain some of the same perspective I did when I returned to work. I feel kind of bad actually that I wasn’t able to compartmentalize a little better when it was just Sean and I. It’s not like I was a work-obsessed corporate zombie before Flora was born, but I spent a lot more time worrying about work-related stuff than I do now.

New Car SeatIn other news, Flora has moved up from her infant car seat to a (much bigger) toddler/child car seat. Not because of her weight (her weigh-in at the doctor yesterday put her at 19 pounds, 12 ounces), but because she was getting too tall for the seat and it looked like it was getting uncomfortable. So we picked up a new seat that will sit both rear-facing and forward-facing (see this link on rear facing car seats) and with some outside help, got it installed into our car. I’ve been calling her new seat “the command centre” because it is huge (since she’ll be able to use it well into her toddler years) and looks kind of like an office chair for your car, complete with cup holder. Flora looks more comfortable in this seat and the buckles are easier to work with so she gets strapped in faster.

What else has happened around here? We’ve spent several weekends and a few days around Canada Day visiting family and friends. Flora got to have her first boat ride and dip into Lake Ontario courtesy of her Grandma Faye and Grampy Doug. I don’t think she was too impressed with her lifejacket, but she did enjoy the water, sand and boat. Next up will be swimming at Auntie Kyla’s!

Queen of the Beach! Sand doesn't taste so good Grandma Faye introduces Flora to the beach Where's my neck? Boating with Grandma and Grampy is fun! Napping on the boat This ship has a new captain

I cannot believe that this child is turning one in one month and two weeks time! This really was the Fastest. Year. Ever.

Big Changes. Big Questions. Big Feelings.

This upcoming Monday, after 289 days at home, I go back to work. My share of the parental leave is over and Sean will be taking over as the stay-at-home parent role. People keep asking me “How do you feel?” and “Are you ready? or “Do you think Sean is up to the task of staying home with Flora?”

Those are really big questions. And they don’t have easy, one-word answers.

I have mixed feelings about going back to work. On the whole, I’m excited to be joining the world at large again. I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues. Back in April, I treated myself to a new work wardrobe using the money from my tax return, and I’m looking forward to putting it in action. (I watched a lot of What Not to Wear during the early days of constant nursing and I decided that I was going to try and dress a little better. I suppose I’m trying to defy the “slummy mummy” stereotype.) I’m also looking forward to going out for lunch again. I work in an area which has a great variety of restaurants offering takeout meals of varying prices and I’ve missed more than a few of my favourites. I’m even excited about the work itself, if you can believe it. For the first little while at least, it’ll probably be fun as I get back into the groove. However like most office drones, I’ll know I’ve settled in when I start complaining about stupid stuff along with everyone else.

While I’m generally happy about returning to work, I’m sad that I won’t be able to be with Flora all day. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum. We have our little routines down pat, and I know I’m going to miss them when we’re separated from each other. I know that I’m now joining the world of “working parents” (in quotes because I know stay-at-home parents work too): I will now always be stretching and compromising to accommodate everything and everyone in my life, and there will never be enough time. I just hope that I can manage the challenges with grace, flexibility and humour. I also hope that I pay attention during the good times so that I can remember that they do exist, and replicate them when things get tough.

Despite the fears and anxieties that I’m sure all mums get when they’re leaving their babies to return to work, I feel ready to return. I just hope I still feel ready when I don’t have complete control over how Flora spends her day. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that just because Sean does things differently than I do, doesn’t mean he is doing them wrong. I’m working on that. I trust Sean and I know that the two of them will enjoy their time together. I’m proud of Sean for taking parental leave. I feel thankful – and lucky – knowing that during my first couple of months back at work, Flora will be spending most of her time with her daddy. It will be so good for both of them, and they will have so much fun. I can’t wait to see the pictures and video of the tomfoolery they get into together.

So yes. A lot of big feelings. It’s a big situation – I think they’re justified.

Motherhood, so far

At the end of April, I was planning to write several posts about my experiences mothering my daughter over these last eight months. They were going to lead up to some flowery thoughts on Mother’s Day. They were going to be a lovely reminder of what I was doing and how I felt about things going on in Flora’s, Sean’s and my life as a new family.

However, mothering a young baby does not always lend itself to writing thoughtful, poignant, loving tributes to the various facets of motherhood in a timely fashion. There are just so many other things to do, like raise the kid. I’ve been spending my time mothering instead of writing about mothering. This is probably not a bad thing. Even now, as I sit here trying to write something, I feel like I’m going all over the place. There is so much I want to say, and it’s hard to rein in all these big thoughts to tell the story the way I want to.

Growing up, and well into my twenties, I never expected to have kids. If someone had told me at fifteen, or twenty, or even twenty-five, that I would spend my thirtieth birthday sitting on my deck with close friends, nearly 39 weeks pregnant, waiting to find out if I was going to be induced later that week, I would have laughed at them. It’s just not something I ever expected I would do. Yet here we are. (There are several cliches that describe this perfectly, but I’ll leave you to use the one that you prefer.)

Some people like to say that “if I’d known I would love having a child so much, I would have had one sooner”. I don’t feel that way. If I had a baby earlier in my life, I would never have had Flora. I would have had another baby, and while I’m sure he or she would be a wonderful person, he or she wouldn’t be Flora. She has taught me so much already, and I’m not sure that I would have been ready to learn from another baby from another, younger time. I can only hope that I can teach Flora all the things she needs to know to live safely and happily as a citizen of the world. I know we will continue to teach each other for the rest of our lives.

The weekend I first told my parents that Sean and I were expecting, I told my mother that I still wanted to be the same person I was before I had the baby. I still wanted to like dirty jokes, loud music, silly movies, a couple glasses of wine now and again and all the other stuff I enjoyed before the Baby would turn my life upside down. I was terrified that I would lose myself and only be regarded as a Mommy. My mom quickly set me straight and told me that I would still be the same person. She talked me down from more than a few worrisome points, and I am grateful to her for that. The best mothering advice she gave me is that “common sense goes a long way”. And it does.

I knew I would love my baby unconditionally, but I didn’t know how physical that bond would be. At the beginning, Flora would cry and I would leak milk, soaking whatever I was wearing. Watching her nurse filled me with awe and pride that  I could provide my child the sustenance she needed to grow and thrive. It still does, even though I’m not her sole source of food anymore. The amount of time I’ve spent holding her, comforting her, breathing her baby smell in. I never expected to be smelling her so much, whether to enjoy a freshly-bathed baby ready for bed, or to sniff for a dirty bum.

It really is a visceral connection. I know our connection will change as we get older. I just hope that I can remember all these awe-inspiring, life-changing, huge, loving feelings for the rest of my days. And that I can find the right words to describe them to her.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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