People warned me about being tired. “Sleep now, while you can!” they said, as if (1) you can bank sleep and store it up for later use and (2) a lady who’s 8 months pregnant with broken ribs and a squished bladder can actually sleep in the first place.
And people warned me about the emotions. “A love like you’ve never felt before…” Knowing myself, and knowing what an emotional person I already was, I wasn’t surprised to be overcome by all of the feels – happiness, joy, love, exhaustion, worry, anxiety, self-doubt, you name it.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was the guilt.
Guilt that I don’t understand. Guilt that I can’t shake. Guilt that really isn’t necessary.
I find myself stressing and apologizing about everything these days, and I’m not sure why.
I took time off from my teaching job and am currently staying at home with my son. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the beginning, I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to swing it financially or that I’d end up being dreadfully bored at home all day. It’s amazing how quickly the day goes by when you’re chasing after a 7-month old.
So then I end up apologizing for things. The laundry still sitting in the dryer. The dishes that didn’t get put away. The pile of my stuff invading my husband’s side of the desk that we share.
Some days I manage to tackle all that stuff. Some days I get that and a lot more than that done – the laundry is folded and put away. The baby food has been made and stored. The dishes are all done. The living room isn’t totally covered in toys. Dinner is cooking as my husband walks in the door. I’m seated at the counter working while the baby sits next to me in his high chair, munching on his puffs. Those days, I feel like a domestic goddess.
Other days, I feel like I should be doing a way better job. I make to-do lists and swear that when the baby naps, I will do some chores or finally sit down and write. (My books and blog posts aren’t going to write themselves.) But then I find myself so worn out that I end up just sitting near the pack and play and watching my son sleep. While Dawson’s Creek reruns play on TV.
Most nights for dinner, we have the same ol’ standby meals we always do. I feel bad for not being more creative and switching things up.
Some nights, my husband tells me to go upstairs and take a long soak in the tub while he hangs out with the baby. I usually take him up on that offer, but I feel bad for sitting submersed in bubbles while hearing my husband laughs at our son’s squeals as they play together downstairs. And even though I’m only upstairs, I miss them.
I’ve been trying to do a better job of laying my son down “drowsy but awake” for his naps, but there are some days where he puts his head on my shoulder and I lay down on the couch with him for an hour and half-long nap and nothing gets done. I wouldn’t trade those snuggles for anything in the world, but I know that because I was holding him for so long, a blog post didn’t get shared on social media, a chapter didn’t get written in my next book, and that damn laundry is still sitting in the dryer.
And then, on those days when I’m feeling torn between new mom, housewife, and aspiring writer… When I feel like I’m sucking at one (or, lots of times, all three!) of those jobs, my husband comes home and somehow manages to brush my guilt away.
“It’s fine,” he says, taking the laundry upstairs.
“I’ll go pick something up,” he says, when I’ve forgotten to make plans for dinner.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re the one doing all the hard work. Thank you,” he says.
Thank you. He’s thanking me.
I’m the one that should be thanking him. I am so grateful to have such an understanding, supportive, and helpful partner in this crazy journey that is parenthood. Even on the days when I feel like I’m doing a horrible job, he lifts me up and makes me feel better about what I’m doing.
And being a mom is hard enough as it is. I don’t need to make it harder on myself by feeling so guilty all the time. I’ve only got a little while before #BabyGoodwin is all grown up and doesn’t want to cuddle on the couch with me… So I’ll take the snuggles now while I still can. The laundry can wait.