When I began this weblog, I was on maternity leave from my favorite job yet, a full-time writing gig at a marketing communications firm. The work was challenging, always something different from day to day. But about a month after starting, I discovered I was pregnant with the Bun. Completely unplanned.
After the Bun was born, I knew I couldn’t return to work within six weeks. I just couldn’t do that to my little girl. In short, after six weeks were about up, I spoke with my employer. He agreed to use me as a freelancer again, until I could return, maybe when the Bun is six months old or so.
Two weeks later, I was still waiting for a freelance assignment from them. I thought I had completely screwed up my chances of working with this firm, which I was depressed about because I really liked working with them.
And then, a day after lamenting the death of my career with DearDR (okay, so it’s not dead, just on hold again), I got a call from the firm. They needed me to write a story.
So I tried the WAHM route
In order to do the story, I needed to conduct a phone interview. I had Nanny come over from next door to hold the Bun and/or otherwise tend to her needs while I did the interview. All went smoothly. Nanny even offered to hang out while I transcribed some of the tape, made dinner, and picked up Monkey from the babysitter. Aside from a killer tension headache that descended as soon as the phone interview was over, things were great.
The following day, Monkey was at the babysitter again, and I was determined to transcribe the story from my DVR (digital voice recorder, if you don’t know). And I swear, Bun knew it. She was extra fussy, seemingly determined to depart from her usual cycle of eat-sleep-poop. She wanted the mama, if not actively feeding her, then at least holding her. I sighed, I cajoled, I rocked, and in between fussy periods I transcribed madly. I worked nearly to the neglect of personal hygeine (I did sneak in a quick shower) and definitely to the neglect of nutrition, skipping lunch almost entirely (I ate an apple).
I am a big fan of the daily shower. I crave it; I need it. I know it is something that women with children, especially S/WAHMs — and especially if there is more than one child present — give up or at least put off until another adult family member is present in the house. Not me. If the Bun is sleeping, I jump in the shower.
I don’t take long showers; I don’t need to shave my legs every day or anything (or even every week!). I just wash the basics and brush the teeth. That’s all. It makes me feel like a real person. I don’t style or blow dry my hair. Occasionally I get to moisturize afterwards, but I will even sacrifice that if I need to. Which given the cold outside and the dry heat inside is a true sacrifice, if you ask me!
Back to the point
Okay, trascription is done. I have a hunger headache and Monkey is home. Bun is being the same Bun she has been all day. I will not be writing this evening. I get everyone fed, although not enough for me. Monkey is fraying my nerves, even to the point of getting an extremely rare spanking. I don’t like to spank, but 1) she was purposely pouring her soy milk on the rug and 2) I was fried.
Also at this point, I suspect I am coming down with something. My head hurts, I am aching all over and my throat hurts. I feel as if I have a fever, although I don’t feel warm to my own touch. The only working digital thermometer in the house is the one I stick up Monkey’s butt to see if she has a fever. “Great,” I think. “I have to write this story tomorrow and DearDR and I have just made plans to go out tomorrow evening, albeit with the kids, and now I suddenly have the flu or something.”
I get Monkey in bed, nurse Bun a little longer in front of the tube, and then take us up to bed. I am feeling some despair.
The Next Day
I feel better. No achey-ness, no sore throat. Okay, I am ready to write. I just have to get DearDR to be with the kids. I should have know that maybe things aren’t going to go that well when DearDR goes in to get Monkey that morning.
See, the night before, she had been coughing. I had asked DearDR, when he got home from work, to give her some cough syrup. He put the cough syrup in a syringe (not with a needle, the kiddie medicine syringe type thing). Monkey refused to take the medicine. So my wise Ph.D.-toting husband leaves the syringe in Monkey’s room where he thought she couldn’t reach it.
The bad news: there is no place in Monkey’s room that she cannot reach since she has learned that just about anything can be employed as a step stool.
The cough syrup was red.
I keep hearing DearDR say, “Why did you squirt this all over the wall?” I have no idea what he is talking about. I can hear increasing frustration from him, and finally Monkey starts to cry. I get up, and see the mess on the wall, on her bedsheets. It is about 7:30 a.m.
It worries me when I am the paragon of patience in my house. Because I am not. Patient. At all. But today I am much better than DearDR. He was angry with Monkey, sure, but he was even angrier at himself for leaving the medicine in the room.
In any case, I try to write. And I do write. And in between writing and trying to focus on writing, I play with Monkey, clean up the mess she made in the bedroom, feed her lunch, get a little snappish with DearDR, and pump two bottles for Bun. Ah, yes, the electric breast pump twice in one morning. I was stressed on my behalf because the writing was not going well for so many reasons, and I was stressed on DearDR’s behalf because I know what it’s like to have the two kids on your hands.
But I do write. It turns out okay. I email it by 2 p.m.
And Then We Try to Have Sex
During what is supposed to be Monkey’s nap and when Bun is sleeping. It’s not so much that I want to exactly, but we have to. Sooner or later. It seems like we have an opportunity, and we should take it. And I know DearDR does want to.
Monkey is not napping, she is in her room singing. Sometimes she is singing “Happy Birthday”, and sometimes “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (or the part of it she knows, which is “Dinah, blow your horn”). She is singing loudly. DearDR and I are trying to be intimate and laughing our heads off at the same time. And then somehow, Monkey figures out we must be upstairs because she starts calling, then screaming for us.
We persevere. We do actually have intercourse, although only one of us has an orgasm. It’s not me and (and I am not just saying this) that’s okay. In this case it is the act that counts, actually doing the act, actually putting something in where babies come out, that is the hurdle that needs to be jumped for me. It is uncomfortable, and it is ridiculous to be doing while our older daughter is calling for us from the other room and, before we are done, our younger daughter starts crying from another room.
We wash up a bit and get our clothes back on. Everyone is rescued from their crying. DearDR thanks me. And we go out as a family, and it’s nice. Chaotic and tiring, but. Nice.