Posted by: mommytoo | July 18, 2008

thoughts on non-bio maternity leave

nate is napping, but his naps are still unpredictable!  hopefully, i have a little time to blog right now.  the heat (high 96 degrees in phila today) seems to be tiring out the poor little guy.

so, maternity leave is pretty awesome.  i think i have a special appreciation for it, having worked the first 3 months after he was born.  as you know, i really suffered through it.  it wasn’t my choice to wait, but i think it worked out for the best — summer is a great time to be off, and he is so much fun now.  my time with him is actually ending being as wonderful as i had hoped.

the interesting thing about maternity leave, of course, is that it’s meant for women who give birth.  i know, i know, it’s fmla and adoptive moms are entitled, dads too, blah blah.  and it’s usually right when the baby is born, often starting before the birth.  when you say maternity leave, people think you’re spending the beginning laid up in bed, learning to be a mom, maybe in pain from labor, a c-section, whatever.  instead, i’m gallavanting around the east coast, not even that tired because nate is almost sleeping through the night and even when he isn’t, i’m not even up with him because i can’t feed him!  and of course we know that i’m totally entitled to it, and this is how moms bond with their babies.  by – you know – parenting.

but it has taken some time for me to really relax into my maternity leave.  i am not someone who needs to be constantly doing doing doing — i do have my manic/hyper moments, and i struggle with my fair share of anxiety.  but i also love napping, and watching tv, and just being un-productive.  since i started my leave, i’m downright… industrious!  i’ve always loved puttering (if you’re a putterer, you know how truly wonderful it is).  but in the last few weeks, i have gotten a lot done.  a lot of phone calls, a lot of laundry, a lot of cleaning.

i’m not going to totally pathologize my hard work.  i have more time, i’m not exhausted from long shifts.  and i know i’ll never get time like this again — time to just be at home with my family.  but i realized that there’s a part of me that thinks i have to earn this time, somehow.  “normal” moms are just home, and caring for an infant is a full time job in and of itself.  i do have plenty of days when d and i are both here, which means two sets of mommy hands.  but even on days like yesterday and today, with d gone upwards of 10 hours, i am obsessed with GETTING STUFF DONE.  even if it’s just seeing a friend, i need to feel at the end of the day that i accomplished a lot.

d and i have, of course, talked a lot about this.  she told me early on that i have to understand that baby time is totally different.  i might have a whole day planned, but if nate isn’t up for it, that’s that.  and it is an accomplishment to spend the day parenting.  i decided to keep a journal, so every night i write what we did that day, and what nate is up to.  it helps me realize how much i’m doing even when i’m not really doing.  it’s kind of great to write down that nate had tummy time, seemed to sing along to “if i had a hammer” at bedtime, and charmed everyone at the grocery store.

for the record, i totally know – i mean i know – that i am nate’s mom.  i had my freak-out moments during the pregnancy, but even those were pretty few.  and since he’s here, he’s just so much my boy.  i have never loved anyone in a way that felt like an ice cream headache.  that’s how i describe that desire to eat his toes!  so don’t worry, i know it deep in my soul.  it’s just interesting, the challenges i didn’t expect.

holy cow, the electricity just went out!

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