I’m not good at sitting down and doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I park my butt on the couch after Margaret and Niels are in bed, but I’m usually watching a show, while I have my computer on my lap and my phone in my hand. There’s Facebook and the internet that need my attention, and I have to look over the pictures I took during the day to see if there’s anything Instagram-worthy.
Before kids, I would get antsy whenever a weekend morning started to become “too lazy.” If Henning and I weren’t ready for our day before 9am, I began to feel like we were wasting the day away. We would wake up, shower, and have breakfast in quick succession. We would either go grocery shopping, work on projects around the house, or prepare for a party later in the day, or whatever else you do when you don’t have kids. After Margaret arrived, though, it was a swift kick in the pants. My anxiety skyrocketed when I was inevitably not anywhere near being ready for the day by my 9am cutoff. I still felt like the day was being wasted, even though a lot was going on. I won’t say a lot was being accomplished because you know how it is with babies–one load of laundry done, two more loads created.
I remember scheduling Margaret’s very first doctor’s appointment. We were still in the hospital after my c-section and the pediatrician was standing at the foot of my hospital bed explaining what days would be best to bring in our newborn for her first visit. I was half listening, half obsessing about how weird it felt to be sitting there with my boob hanging out while Margaret tried to nurse. After some back and forth, we settled on a Tuesday since we didn’t want to be in the office on a Monday with all the kids who had gotten sick over the weekend. I scheduled it for 8am. I figured that babies wake up early and that we’d get the appointment out of the way first thing and then have the rest of the day to do whatever it is you do with a newborn. I had no clue. Tuesday morning rolled around and Henning and I were operating on 3 hours of sleep; Margaret was still sleeping on a 24-hour schedule (obviously–she was only 7 days old); and 8am was suddenly incredibly early. My parents were still visiting and helping us get used to having a little person in our care 24/7. They’re the only reason we made it to that appointment on time.
It turns out that “whatever it is you do with a newborn” consists mostly of sitting around while they nurse and sleep on you, and there’s literally no time to do anything else. It’s adorable. It’s special bonding time. It’s maddening for someone who is not good at sitting still. For weeks after I had Margaret I felt like I should be doing something else besides sitting around holding her. There was laundry to wash and fold. There were meals to cook. There were groceries to buy. I, after all, wasn’t working, so I should be able to do more than nurse, change diapers, and keep a baby happy. However, even though I felt the need to do all these things, I was also paralyzed with fear of leaving the house with Margaret. She was so tiny and in a Pavlik brace for hip dysplasia, and it seemed like an impossible task to take her anywhere. After weeks of grappling with the inner struggle of wanting to do something (ANYTHING!) and not feeling competent enough to anything at all (ANYTHING!), I succumbed to the realization that sitting on the couch and holding Margaret was the only thing I felt I could do at that point. It took more effort than I care to admit for me to let go of the feeling that I needed to always be doing something, and truth be told, I didn’t let it go entirely. When Margaret would fall asleep hard, I would gently lay her down her in the baby rocker and do some postpartum exercises. One day I was literally just speed walking around the downstairs. I’ll let you form a mental picture of that. It felt great to just be moving and feeling like I was getting to be active and maybe shed some of the baby weight (it would take a full 9 months for that to happen).
For me, motherhood has been a struggle of knowing when to slow down and not try to keep every single task on a schedule or be constantly barking things like, “Hurry up!”; “We’re late!”; “We have to go! Get a move on!” Motherhood has taught me to slow down, even though it can feel like everything is going so fast. When I feel like I’m watching the clock and waiting for bedtime, it still feels like the day has sped by.
But Saturdays have become lazy and I’ve mostly embraced this change of pace.
Margaret certainly doesn’t care when it’s nearly 9am and she’s laying on the couch still in her PJs.
Niels appreciates that he can take a catnap after having woken up at 5:30am.
Margaret and Niels think its hilarious to get back in bed after breakfast and tickle each other and listen to 90s music on Henning’s phone.
When it’s quite time, we all take advantage of the downtime.
Well, almost all of us.