This week’s Time cover and headline (and, to a much lesser extent, the content of the magazine) is a flashpoint of discussion about motherhood. I’m not going to say anything about it. There’s already too much judgment and unsolicited advice out there for moms. I’m not going to add to it.
I’m sitting here staring at my monitor ready to write a post. Why? Not because I have anything to say but because I have, for the 1st time today, 20 minutes or so to myself before I collapse in exhaustion.
Between working a full-time job and taking care of a 10 month old without a single full night of sleep in more than 10 months, I feel drained. Creatively. And physically. Spent, in every way. The time to write & the moments of inspiration just do not coincide. And when I do have time, like now, I flip to “inspiration, saved for later” and find…nothing.
I guess the good news is that it’s starting to dawn on me that perhaps the two (sleep deprivation/fatigue, and inspiration, lack of) are related….
Am I the only one who views the workday as an impediment to the sh*t I want to and need to get done? Instead of sitting here for 8 hours I would rather:
- finish my Photoshop Mother’s Day project
- finish the art I started 7 months ago for my daughter’s nursery
- finish start at least one of the three books I got from the library
- watch another episode of Luther
And, for those of you who are counting, in addition to the pet projects I would like to get done, I also need to:
- fold and put away laundry
- buy a robot vacuum / floor cleaner mop
- figure out something to make for dinner that isn’t one of the 5 same old, same old recipes in my repertoire of late
So after this weekend of 105+, I take back pretty much everything I’ve ever said about “So what it’s hot! It’s hot everywhere because it’s summer. Just adjust accordingly!” Fate, you cruel bitch. I surrender.
I attempted to entertain Baby but she got bored (as did I). Here was our itinerary Saturday:
Our afternoon walk around the hood? Too hot, so that’s out. How about playing with your bear? Bored already? Here’s your lamb! Ok, let’s read a book…or 8. Still no good? Let’s listen to music while you crawl around…what’s that noise? Oh Jesus. She’s trying to eat a diaper. Luckily it’s a clean one. Wanna go swing in your…oh, no. it’s too hot out there and your swing is in the sun. You wanna go to…um….hmmm…the mall, I guess? What do you mean people watching doesn’t entertain you longer than 30 minutes? Sigh. Let’s go…um…well….home, I guess.
Remember your bear? Oh, right. You’re bored with him. Well, try it for awhile while I google playgrounds. Oh, City of Tempe, why is your website so anti-informational?! I can see that you have playgrounds but no info about any of them – do they have baby swings or just big kid equipment? Are they shaded? Let’s just go drive around and see.
Hmmm. No luck but at least you’re down for a nap. Jesus. I’m starving. I could really go for a burrito. Hey! There’s a burrito place on the other end of Kiwanis Park. OMG! It has a drive thru! “Phone pickup orders only?!” Fine. I will pull over, look up your website & phone in my order from 5′ away. Oh, c’mon people. Your menu is a PDF that won’t open on my phone – time for a redesign, seeing as it’s 2012, guys. Forget it.
And that was just Saturday. I googled Saturday night looking for activities in preparation for Sunday. There are indoor playgrounds…at $9 a head and nowhere near me, so that’s out. The children’s museum online reviews say it’s a madhouse on weekends and toddlers beware.
Sunday, I decided to take her swimming. City of Tempe – WTF? The only pool you have open before May is the wave pool, and @ $7, kinda steep for a public pool. At least it’s indoors. But the waves are bigger than I envisioned – way too ‘scary’ for her, when she’s scared of the pool in the first place. Looking online, there is only other public pool open this weekend. Too bad it’s practically in Queen Creek, but hey, we got no other ideas, why not? After a 25 minute drive, it’s a 20 minute line to get in. Once we got in, it’s a f*ckin free for all. Parents not watching their kids who were practically running over Baby and definitely splashing her in the face. Thanks, little Assholes. We left after 15 minutes of ‘fun.’
So, yeah. I surrender. I have no idea wtf to do w/ her this summer. From what I read online, you get the same sort of Lord of the Flies experience at baby splashpads, other pools, & indoor playgrounds. Baby storytime at the public library? Tuesday afternoons in Tempe, Tuesday mornings in Mesa, Tuesday mornings in Chandler, Tuesday mornings in Scottsdale (are we seeing a pattern?) Did you know that more than 73% of moms are working moms? Cuz apparently public libraries don’t. (I realize that work isn’t always M-F but, c’mon).
I give up. This summer is going to be like Groundhog day.
I started my new job almost a year ago, when I was six months pregnant. And within a couple weeks, my new boss connected me with a woman who works here who had just come back from maternity leave. I went up to talk with her one afternoon because she’d just enrolled her daughter in the same daycare we were considering. We compared notes on the daycare, and, naturally, touched base on a lot of other baby-related issues: hospitals and birth, pumping at work, and, of course, sleep. She told me the following anecdote:
“We had our first overnight away from the baby when she was about 3 months old. My in-laws kept her while my husband and I just went down the block and checked into a hotel. Right after check-in, we ordered room service, took a tylenol PM, and slept for, like, 12 hours.” I thought she was kidding. Thing is: she wasn’t kidding. One of my friends says to me, frequently, and with pity, “I always tell [our other friend] how bad I feel for you guys because you don’t have any family here, so you’ve never really had time away from Baby! I’m SO sorry! It must be really difficult.” Is it hard? You betcha. Is it worth every sleep deprived moment? Absolutely. Would we give anything for a night of uninterrupted sleep, since it’s been nine months without so much as a night off?
Sorry, had to get another cup of coffee.
But let’s keep this in context. Do you really think that moms around the world feel sorry for themselves because they can’t get a night off? Do you think that moms across the US have the luxury to entertain the thought of getting a full night’s sleep, nevermind in a ritzy resort where they get room service and a pedicure and facial the next day? We certainly don’t. Clearly a first world problem. Especially in this sh*tty-ass economy.
Our world has been turned upside down, but in all the right ways. We are blessed with a healthy, adorable, loving, curious, funny, happy Baby. We couldn’t be luckier. So we’ll have to put up with being sleep deprived and caffeine-dependant until she sleeps through the night since we don’t have someone who can take her. If that’s the biggest problem we have, we’re doing pretty damn well. We’ll just keep brewing more coffee so we can keep up with her.
As Baby approaches 1 year, I had started to put out a few feelers for Montessori or other nursery schools. It seems ridiculously early, I know, and I never ever wanted to be a parent putting my Baby (and myself) through the agony of long waitlists, auditions, and just otherwise stupid antics. (At least not until kindergarten anyway).
But the reality of living in a big city (or, for all I know, anywhere these days, thanks to the general sh*ttiness of education in American public schools combined with the parenting instinct to give your child the greatest advantages in life that you can) is that you gotta start early. The highly rated preschool for 2-5 year olds on campus? Yeah, they have babies on their waiting list who HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN BORN YET. So when my dreams of having Baby right here on campus with me, learning and developing at some beautiful, highly respected, preschool of excellence were squelched? I decided I needed to get on the ball if she was going to end up in any halfway-decent school someday. So, dear interwebz, that is how you may find yourself, like I did, on the path to becoming the very person you despise, but let me continue.
I know what I envision when I think of shipping Baby off to preschool is a nurturing environment very much like the one I grew up in (I went to a free-choice nontraditional elementary school, way back before it was cool). A learning environment you just don’t see in public schools. And second, I know everyone thinks their school systems suck, but Arizona’s really, really suck. Getting her into a good school in Arizona is probably equivalent to getting her into the most mediocre of schools pretty much anywhere else.
But, dear reader, I know this will come as a shock, but my research shows that Montessori caters only to elitist, pretentious, upper middle class folks. In other words, whitey. Without exception, the Montessori schools here are:
- At least as expensive as infant daycare. For half days.
- Unable to define “half.” Without exception, all define a “half day” as fewer than three and a half hours.
- Unable to accommodate demand, and so implement all manner of pretentious interviews, evaluations, and auditions.
So the expectation is either that I am ridiculously wealthy and can afford
- a nanny for the rest of each day once the ‘half’ day session is over, or
- daycare for the rest of each day
- Well, that, and a chauffeur, because it’s not like I can dash out of work at 11 a.m. to go pick up my kid who I couldn’t drop off before 8:30 so that I can then shlep her from nursery school to daycare, or
- to not work.
Even though the educational credentials and teachers may impress me, none of what I’ve seen sits well with me. I can’t afford it and I can’t beat myself up because I can’t afford it either.
People act like the whole working mom thing is hard due to the emotionally and culturally-fraught decision of whether one’s identity as a woman who has offspring is tied up in what one does not accomplish at home because she works or what she does not accomplish at work because she is home. No, at least not for me. What is difficult is that the choices for high-quality childcare are so prohibitive and few and far between that only the parents who are both: financially *able* to not work AND also choose not to work have access to the quality of early childhood ed I would want.
Anyone out there wealthy enough AND willing to sponsor me? I’ll gladly stay at home AND ship my kid off to an excellent program. Anyone?