What I Did on Maternity Leave

Aside from the obvious of course.

I watched a lot of television. Cable has spoiled me, because I can get just about anything on demand. So I discovered some new shows.

First off, I watched a few “alphabet soup” dead body shows: CSI:, NCIS, NCIS:LA. A couple of channels run marathons of these shows, and I have always really liked the original CSI:, with William Petersen as Gil Grissom, and NCIS. NCIS:LA isn’t as good as the original (natch), but it’s been pretty fun viewing. Same with the House marathons.

I seem to have become a USA (the channel, not the country) junkie. I love a bunch of their original series: psych, White Collar, Royal Pains, Fairly Legal, Burn Notice. I also discovered some network television gems, like Cougar Town (it makes me laugh out loud every episode), Parenthood, and, most recently, Mr. Sunshine (Allison Janney’s character is HILARIOUS). I also watched a lot of the DIY network, and TLC’s What Not to Wear, and I’ll write more about those later.

Parenthood is a little weird to watch, but I still love it. First, it’s like they uploaded my dad in the character of Craig T. Nelson. Second, it’s like watching my future life, in a way, with some of the issues they present, especially the episodes with the teen girls. Hattie runs away from home because her parents don’t want her dating a 19-year-old recovering alcoholic (totally down with that!); one mother wants to hear her daughter’s music, but can’t offer constructive criticism. It’s awkward and endearing, and I tend to think of it as a training video, only with really good acting. Basically it’s equipping me and Dan to deal with some of this stuff in the future. Isn’t it?

I had hoped to get more done, especially around the house. I DID clean out my refrigerator, which my mother will be glad to read. I basically had to, because although my daughters have kinda learned to fend for themselves, spillage is still a common occurrence. Spilling lemonade in the refrigerator is something you have to take care of right away. I got way behind on laundry somehow — must have been all those pressing social engagements — and although I did not get it reset to zero for this week, I made a lot of progress last week, even though I was home with an infant and a sick Kate. Now I just need a plan to stay on top of it.

I’ve set up a system for the mail. It basically means tossing everything that’s not a bill. And — this is huge, people — I’ve organized my coupons, and I’m going to continue to organize and use them.

Exciting stuff, I know.

However, I’ve given up on the office. I cannot make headway in there, regardless of what I have tried. Sometime this spring, Dan and I are going to have to do an office/basement purge, have a crap sale (otherwise known as a yard sale), make donations of whatever is left, and move along already. It breaks my heart, because it would be a great room, but we cannot seem to decide to use the space for more than crap storage. The kids’ arts and crafts stuff and some of their board games are in there, and I fear for their safety when they go to fetch things. Otherwise, I am using my dining room table for writing notes and paying bills, and that’s how it’s going to be.

Other stuff we didn’t get done: nailing down a budget, which is even more important now that we bought the house where Dan’s practice is and we have three children in daycare; the tax forms to mail to the accountant, which we need to do by the end of the month so we can figure out if/what we owe; cleaning (out) our bedroom. Also, I have a lot of maternity clothes I’d like to take to a consignment store somewhere!

BUT we know we need to do these things. And they will get done.

Also, I didn’t read very much. It’s much easier to read when you breastfeed than when you bottle feed (probably why I watched so much television). But I couldn’t even do that, because when I was BF’ing, I was doing compressions because M’s latch was so bad. Then I was reading in 15 minute spurts when I was pumping. I managed to read a few of the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fford (very entertaining; I’m chipping away at the fourth book), Drood by Dan Simmons (pointless), and Let Me In, a brilliant addition to vampire fiction.

I’m curious to see how we all adjust to me being back at work. I thought I would be sadder, but I’ve made my peace with it for now. I had been hoping for part-time hours… but, more on that later and elsewhere. I know that my vocation, my calling from God, is to be, first and foremost, a wife and mother. Working is part of that, and if things need to change for me to be a better wife and mother, then they will change. I can’t stress about it, because then I won’t be good at anything.

It would help if I could sleep a little better. It’s unfair to have an infant who sleeps so well, while I am tossing with insomnia at 3 a.m. That’s gotta get resolved. And I need to find a way to start to exercise — which probably is going to interfere with sleep.

All-in-all, it was a good leave, a good time to be with my little boy. I hope that going forward, we all continue to thrive and grow. And get more organized!