Monday, July 23, 2012

Parenting surprise

I'm a casual writer and avid cook, but something about those sleep-deprived early months with my first baby really broke the part of me that cooks and writes. I can ordinarily walk into the kitchen, glance into the pantry and fridge, and whip up a meal from what's there. For six months after my daughter came home, I would walk in and glance at the fridge and ... nothing. It felt to me like what stroke victims with aphasia describe when they try to think of a word for an object in front of them - they know they should know it, everything about it is familiar, but nothing comes to mind, no matter how they stare and concentrate and think! Writing was the same way... I couldn't string two sentences together, no matter how long I stared at the composer screen on my computer, or the blank page in front of me! Eventually, both skills came back, much to the relief of both myself and my wife! I kept up with reading; that was no problem, likely because it allowed me to be more receptive than creative. But I desperately missed adult social interaction, particularly with people who "got me". I'm not looking for anyone to fulfill me or be my reason for being, but all the same, I need a few kindred spirits in my life. I really benefited from online support groups and my friendships with far-flung folks that I maintain through Facebook, but longed for someone to chat with over coffee or a walk. I still went walking with the kid(s) all the same, but I would've liked a buddy to walk with sometimes. I did a poor job of self-care when my first baby was tiny, partly because she was surprisingly needy (may have been a perfectly typical newborn, but she was my first so I don't have a basis for comparison) and it was hard to meet her immediate needs and mine at the same time, and partly because I easily fall prey to inertia. If I'm sitting on the couch after getting the kids to bed, I'm likely to keep sitting on the couch until bedtime, instead of getting up and working on a project. If I get started with the dishes, I'm liable to spend the whole evening cleaning, because that's one chore that is NEVER done! I know this about myself, and have for a long time -- I'm really bad at scheduling my time, at planning finite chunks of time to work on things, and at managing multiple projects in parallel. It's one of the things I liked about my job: all my projects were two weeks or less (usually much less!) in duration and they came on one at a time with little overlap. Parenting is one SERIOUSLY long-term project, with a ton of overlapping aspects. That's not to say there aren't short-term parts, or that there aren't serial aspects of it, but I find those easy to deal with so I don't give them much thought. I've done a much better job taking care of myself and holding onto my sanity with my son. I'm building up a support network, and that helps a lot. I've also done a better job of self-care and making sure I get the rest and nourishment I need. I'm involved in things that give me a sense of purpose apart from my kids. I would say at this point my transition from working girl to working-at-home mom has been successful, but it was not without its bumps in the beginning.

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