The baby is screaming.
The dogs are frenzied.
The house alarm is blaring.
I need a cocktail.
This is how my evening unfolds after picking Baby J up from his childcare each day. I park my car, unlock the back gate, and marvel as complete chaos unfolds before my eyes, as if I am watching it for the very first time.
I’ve been struggling to balance my life as a teacher and my life as a mother and wife since returning to school in November. When I get home from work, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to maximize my time with sweet Jack. We need to play and snuggle and sing and talk. After all, that is what he does at his in-home daycare every day. If I don’t interact with him as they do, will he favor them over me?
So we get home, and despite my urge to collapse on the couch and zone out to E! News, I somehow muster up the energy to engage with my baby. It’s not that I don’t want to; I absolutely do. But because I have been engaging with a classroom full of ten-year-olds all day, I’m running on fumes.
I had an epiphany this week… Why I am trying to force Jack to play when he is just as tired as I am? Whether it’s exercise, couch-time, or a few minutes of solitude, everyone needs a chance to decompress after a long day, babies included. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?
Wednesday afternoon was one of the best days I have had with Jack since my maternity leave ended, as I made a few minor adjustments to our regular routine that turned out to be quite profound. First of all, I placed Jack in his Snug-a-Bunny bouncer where he was able to drink a bottle while relaxing to soothing vibrations and peaceful melodies. During this time, I loaded/unloaded the dishwasher. When J finished his bottle, I didn’t rush to move him elsewhere to prevent potential boredom. Instead, I allowed him to just be.
The result? A happy baby who proceeded to babble away for the next half hour or so.
After dishes, it was on to the laundry. J’s clothes had occupied the dryer for the better half of a week, and I was tired of digging through the load each morning to find a pair of matching socks or a clean onesie to lay out for my husband- And no, my husband does not wear onesies. He was relieved of all wardrobe duties after several failed attempts of dressing the baby on his own.
While I sorted Jack’s folded laundry and put it away in his dresser, he relaxed in the MamaROO, which he seems to enjoy more now than he did as a newborn. I plugged my iPhone into the swing and turned Pandora onto a lullaby station. By the time I put away Jack’s last pair of pants, we were both in a state of utter tranquility.
I paused briefly to revel in the moment. I managed to tune out the incessant chatter of my busy mind.
Warm sun rays slid through the sheer panel curtains, illuminating the nursery in afternoon light. Time seemed to stand still as Jack and I locked eyes from across the room. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. Such a simple expression conveyed so many feelings at once, some of which I still can’t quite put into words. We smiled out of love, we smiled out of joy, and we smiled because we knew that this was not the the beginning of our story.
It was the most connected I have ever felt to my son.