This week, I have been on my own with my belly and the Bug while my husband has been in New Orleans for his school's seventh grade class trip.
Monday - The First Day
- 4am: My husband leaves to meet his kids at the school so that they can take a big bus to the airport.
- 8am: My husband's dad comes to the apartment to spend time with Bug and be the childcare provider for the day.
- Day: Work involved nothing noteworthy, which is good and bad.
- 7pm: Home again. In an attempt to get Bug's bath started, I take away the new truck toy that his grandpa gave him. I spent the next three minutes watching Bug on the floor of the bathroom expressing his complete dissatisfaction with my preference for bath time in lieu of more truck time. To quote one of our favorite books about a toddler who throws a fit, "it lasts until it doesn't." Bug stands up, looks into the full bath, and says, "bath?!?!!?" Bath, PJs, story time, lullabies, and bed follow relatively easily.
- 9pm: I eat dinner.
- 10pm: I pass out.
Tuesday - The Long Day
- 1am: Bug cries out; I go in; he falls back asleep on my chest; I put him back in his crib and go to my own bed like a zombie.
- 4am: Bug cries out; I bring him to my bed because I do not think I will have the energy to put him back in his crib after he returns to sleep.
- 8am: Uploaded a short home movie for my husband to watch because it is his birthday. While I wax film maker, I let Bug watch Sesame Street on the couch. I feel like a bad mother.
- Day: Work - as joyous as usual.
- 7pm: Home again. I wanted nothing more than to go straight to bed. Instead, I managed to give Bug a bath, get him into PJs, read stories, sing lullabies, and put him into his crib.
- 8:15pm: Bug starts to cry out. I believe that he is too tired and needs to get himself to sleep even if he cries for a few minutes. The phone rings. It is my husband, and it is his birthday, but I am distracted by the increasing volume of Bug's crying. I feel like a bad mother and a bad wife.
- 8:20pm: Bug's cries turn into shouts for me. My voice cracks as I tell my husband I have to get off the phone. I start crying myself as I walk down the hall to get Bug. I go in; he falls back asleep on my chest; I put him in his crib.
- 9pm: Dinner for myself.
- 9:30pm: Fall apart briefly. Feel I should have known that Bug is missing my husband as much as I am, and that this week I need to err on the side of attentiveness. In other words, I decide that for the rest of the week, when Bug calls out, I will scoop him up, and I will not worry that he will unlearn how to soothe himself back to sleep this week.
- 10pm: I sleep.
Wednesday - So-called Hump Day
- 1:30am: Bug cries out; I bring him into my bed; he stays there, sleeping like a baby elephant until the sun comes up.
- Morning: Cannot remember any details except that the groceries are delivered in a box that is soaked with the balsamic vinaigrette dressing that was in my order. Also, I remember feeling very angry with various strangers at various points in my commute. Something about them not making way for the pregnant lady . . . when, truly, it was about them not (somehow and magically) giving me back the sleep I had lost in the last two days.
- Day: Work - long and busier.
- 7pm: Home again. I want to lie down. Instead, I managed to get a bath going. In the middle of the bath, I realize that I should probably wash Bug's hair. Instead, in an effort to avoid any battles, tantrums, or other exhausting three-minute ordeals, I decide it can wait.
- 8:15: Work through dinner and beyond, and I wonder if I will ever again feel like a truly rested human being.
- 10:15: Sleep.
Thursday - Things Are Looking Up Day
- 5:30am: Bug calls out; I bring him to my bed in the vain hope that he will go back to sleep. He uses my face as a pillow and is ready to start his day about ten minutes later.
- 6:45am: We go for a quick walk because I am so tired I do not know if the morning is really happening, and I figure fresh air might give me an answer to that question.
- 7:15am: Bug eats the blueberry muffin we picked up on the walk, and I read to him on the couch. It is one of the coziest and most wonderful moments of the week.
- Day: Work - very busy, and the day is gone quickly.
- 7pm: Home again. It is no longer feasible to put off washing Bug's hair. He protests. I offer to sing a song. He says, "no." I start singing The Wheels on the Bus. He cuts me off with, "no." I start singing London Bridge. He cuts me off, "no." I start with She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain. "No." I say, "I don't know if I know any other songs that might make you feel better." He says, "car." I sing Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin. Bug loves that song. He is starting to learn the words. I sing it to him before bed, and now, apparently, when I wash his hair.
- 8pm: Bug in crib heading for sleep, and I am trying to figure out dinner.
- 9:45pm: Bug crying out and then calling Mama. I go to him; he falls back to sleep on my chest; I go to bed myself.
Friday - Almost There Day
- 3am: Bug cries out; I bring him to my bed; he sleeps like a baby elephant.
- 5:20am: The Bug is awake and wants to get this day started. I refuse.
- 5:50am: My refusal is still not working. We are up and out of bed.
- 5:55am: Bug requests "melmo" (a certain red, fuzzy monster beloved by all small children). I say yes. I do not feel guilty this time. I turn on the television, snuggle with Bug, and close my eyes hoping for another twenty minutes of rest.
- 7:40am: Bug wants to cook. "Cook!" I let him help me make his oatmeal (i.e., he helps pour the oats and then the water into a bowl before I zap them in the microwave). He notices a picture on the back of the oatmeal container. "Cookie!!"
- 7:50am: Bug and I make oatmeal cookies because when you have been up for hours, and it is not 8am yet, and you have the ingredients and an excited toddler, and it is Almost There Day, making oatmeal cookies before work sounds like a brilliant idea.
- 9am: I leave for work and announce that I should be home early today because it is a Friday before a long weekend, which means we get "Early Dismissal" at work. Yes, early dismissal. Like in middle school.
- Day: Work - very busy, punctuated by moments of anxiety and stress . . . and the following . . . I realized that changes I had made all afternoon and evening yesterday had not been saved "on the system." I had a hard copy of the changes though and asked my assistant to use that hard copy and input the changes on the system. She was plugging away when AVerySelfImportantPartner arrived for the day (around 11am) and told her to stop working on my project so that she could work on his VeryTotallyCompletelyImportantProject. I took over inputting the revisions and put off the other work that I had been doing. As I was working in my office, I could hear someone playing music. What kind of music? Oh, you know, the kind of rock and roll music that forty-something ass clowns listen to to try to pretend they are in their thirties (because they are under the misguided assumption that their thirties are where it's at). I walk out of my office and see that, in an office down the hall from mine, VerySelfImportantPartner has his feet up on his desk and is leaning back in his chair doing not-much-of-anything except listening to music like he is a bored lifeguard. So if you were wondering what type of person makes a million dollars a year, now you have a lovely example.
- 6:30pm: I leave work - no early end to my day.
- 7pm: I am home to see a smiling Bug enjoying an oatmeal cookie. I am exhausted and not sure we are going to make it through the bath, PJs, stories, lullabies, and sleep routine. But we do.
This week has been one long week, and I will be so, so glad to see my husband when he gets home. To all of the parents out there who do this on their own for long stretches of time or permanently, you have my sincere admiration and my hope that your little bugs give you plenty of reasons to smile along the way.