Before we had the baby, when it was just the […]
Before we had the baby, when it was just the three of us, Jesse and I would take turns having nights “off.” Each of us would pick a night during the week where we were free to have time solely to ourselves, whether that meant going out with friends or simply cozying up with a movie or book in our bedroom alone. That time was (and still is) crucial for us to decompress, take a step back and indulge in some self-care that is so often neglected when we are in the throes of parenting duties.
Since having Akira, we have had our hands full, to say the least. With one child, somehow, those times when the baby won’t stop crying were a little bit easier. With the first, there was no experience to fall back on, no tricks in the bag to work with. Everything was a new lesson to learn and the feeling of utter helplessness was oddly less severe for me. With a second baby, I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who goes into it with slightly more confidence, having done this before. This isn’t my first rodeo! I’ve got this!
So imagine my surprise with the realization that no two babies, even siblings, are alike. I’ve been told that boys are harder early on and ease up, whereas girls are a breeze in the beginning and turn into little troublemakers as they get older. I have a sneaking suspicion this isn’t so far from my reality.
There was a night last week when Jesse worked late and Akira cried for five straight hours. There was nothing I could do. He didn’t want to be held but didn’t want to be left alone. He didn’t want to lie down but didn’t want to be bounced around, either. He was over-tired but refused to sleep. And I was trying my hardest to hold it together, get Anaïs fed, bathed and put to bed. Finally at around 9:15 in the evening, Akira submitted to his exhaustion and fell asleep. I hadn’t even had a chance to eat dinner, and after I put him down to sleep, Jesse walked in to find me crying over a pot of spaghetti. It was then that I really knew that I was in desperate need of one of my nights off. Earlier that week, Jesse had actually suggested that we start implementing our nights off again, now that Akira was a little bit older and we were all starting to get the hang of having an infant around. So I cashed mine in for the following evening.
I pumped a bottle, put on some make-up (!!!) and left the house after kissing the kids goodnight and thanking Jesse for pushing me out the door. I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure before meeting a girlfriend at a bar. It felt liberating and just like riding a bike. I felt like I was reclaiming a part of myself that had been relegated to a dark corner—a corner where changing diapers and managing spit-up were de rigueur. Not that night! While, yes, I was still talking about my kids (because when do parents not talk about their children), I was also catching up on some gossip and imbibing a fancy adult beverage (or two). It felt great! I felt like I was being an actual friend. I felt like I was recharging. And even in those few hours that I had to myself, I felt like I was taking a step back to be a better mom and wife. I felt human.
These early days are so hard. They test every fiber of your being. Running on minimal sleep and still trying to get a day’s worth of things done in time is a lot tougher when your time has to be split somehow and a big chunk of that time is for the baby. Remembering ourselves in the midst of all of this is so terribly important. On that note, Jesse and I are taking a night off together tonight! We are having our first date night since his mom was here the first week Akira came to be. And I cannot wait.