Back at work and beginning to realized I’m going to need to seriously reframe the way that I look at my home time. Before, I looked at chores not as something that I enjoyed doing, but something that I needed to get done before I could enjoy other things. I couldn’t sit down to read a book unless I’d loaded the dishwasher, moved the laundry, tidied up a bit, things like that.
Last night, I got home from a grad school class that ran extra late around 9:30. I hadn’t pumped since 5pm, so I needed to get that set up. Before seeing myself as “unavailable” and hooked up to a breast pump for 30 minutes, I washed some dishes, started a load of laundry, took out the trash. Mostly because they needed to get done (the laundry was baby girl’s cloth diapers and she was out of clean diaper shells), but also because if I didn’t, the knowledge that I hadn’t was going to dig away at me while I pumped, like an itch I couldn’t reach. I’ve been that way since forever. I can’t sit and read on the weekends without thinking about what I have to do – I’ll typically get them done and then let myself enjoy free time. (Though, unrelatedly, free time is about to vanish)
It’s not the same with a baby. I mean, of course, no shit, right? But something about sitting on the couch, playing with a baby or rocking her in the rock ‘n’ play… in my weird brain, it feels like wasting time. Like I should be accomplishing those household tasks that are yelling at me from the edges of my brain to get accomplished. Go make some burritos for lunch this week, go clean off the counter, go take out the trash, etc… Don’t be present. Don’t make your baby walk on your stomach, don’t sing to her, go do your work.
That’s not OK for me. That not how I want to be with her, that she’s an afterthought, that I get to enjoy once chores are done. And yes, you can plop the baby in the carrier and do some work, but only if the work can be done with T-Rex arms and doesn’t involve reaching across yourself or bending over. These days are precious and fast, even when they feel tedious and slow. This is even more important now that I’m back at work (ugh). I need to make keep myself present and engaged and remind myself that the things I “need” to do… I just want to get them out of the way, but doing so is prioritizing them over the baby.
And, you know, there’s plenty of time to do the dishes when the baby’s asleep.