5/04/2007

Life of the functionally insane

I freaked out this morning. As in, whirlwind of tears, mad hair, and near-vomiting. You'll recall from some of my previous posts, the stay at home mom gig is so not me. I have really been struggling with it lately - shouting at The Dude for trying to hug me, crying as I get out of bed in the mornings, and crying at night thinking of the long day which lurks on the other side of sleep.

I just don't know what to do with myself during the day. P is a charming, happy baby who only cries when denied a newspaper to chew on, so my complaint does not lay with her. I have a habit of getting bored very quickly with the status quo, and if being a SAHM is about anything, it's the status quo.

I get up with P every morning, anywhere from 5.45am-7am, generally on the earlier side of the spectrum. I give her breakfast, she plays for awhile, then naps. After her nap, we play a bit more before lunch. After lunch, we sometimes go out shopping or for a walk. We return, bide our time in some dull manner, and she has her 3pm bottle. Post-bottle she sometimes naps, and if not, I spend most of this time counting down the minutes until The Dude comes home at 4.15pm. Once The Dude gets home, I cook a dinner for us, and one for P if I don't have anything in the freezer. We bathe, put P to bed, then catch up on taped TV shows that we have missed. All the days are interchangeable, with the only variant being the type of food we eat.

I go back to work full-time on 6 September. The easy solution would of course be to go back earlier, but not only am I discontent, I'm also fickle. I have a feeling that if I were to go back now, I would soon regret it and wonder why I lamented having all that time off. After all, who likes to work?

It all makes me wonder if I'll ever be happy. I always assumed that infertility was the singular barrier to my happiness. I believed that once I had a baby it was that hurdle conquered, leading to my immediate and assured optimism that life would be just great from now on. That hasn't happened, much as I love being a mother to P. I know all I need is a little time away in the form of work, but the other concern which emerges is that once I'm working again, I'll just go back to times as they were - tired of the drudgery of full-time employment. Now it will have the added bonus of parental responsibility at the end of a soul-sucking workday.

I suppose it is a matter of changing my frame of mind. We all have to work, and if we have children, we have to parent. It just is. Do I stop focusing on what happiness means and just get on with it? Maybe I will find happiness in that, I don't know. Perhaps if I spent less time worrying that I don't have enough in my life to make me happy, then I would be a bit happier.

Rereading what I've written thus far makes me look like I'm just aching from intervention from Dr Phil. God help me. Well, Dr Phil, things may change shortly, it's just getting to that point which is the struggle. P is going to go to 2 half-day nursery (daycare in Yankspeak) sessions for 6 weeks in early June in preparation for her full time attendance from September. Monday mornings I will be able to sleep in, and Friday afternoons I can read/watch DVDs/IM with my Cheese Wife. It's a fragmented version of the month's maternity leave I was supposed to have sans baby when P decided to show up 2 days after the bloody thing started. In July we're going to the States for 5 weeks, which eases quite gracefully into my working life starting again in September.

I hope P's nursery sessions make me realise that the discontent I'm feeling at the moment can be alleviated. I know I'm lucky. I have a (let's be frank) fucking adorable baby that was a long time in the making, and that's something that could just have easily not happened. I live in a country whose maternity & annual leave guidelines mean that I get the first 14 months of my child's life off. I have a husband who is a fantastic father, even if he does have to consult me each time he feeds her.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do one of the things I do know brings me happiness, however temporary - dancing with P to Styx's "Come Sail Away". There goes my street cred...

20 comments:

Major Bedhead said...

Fourteen months? Wow.

I know this discontent. Part of my problem with being a SAHM is that there's no end to my work day. One day bleeds into the next and becomes a blur of changing diapers, wiping up spills, giving baths, doing laundry and cooking meals. I think this is just as soul-sucking as a paying job, the only difference is that it's soul-sucking with a huge side of guilt because, hey, aren't we supposed to be all uplifted and warm and fuzzy about our children all. the. freakin'. time? And if we aren't, there's something wrong with us.

Gah. Sorry, got a bit carried away there. All I really wanted to say was "Yep, I'm there, too."

Jen said...

Yeah, it was at about this time that the lovely novelty started to wear off for me, too. There is, sadly, no real fulfillment in housework--it is so freaking relentless! And now that our kids aren't quite so needy and super-dependent, it's easy to feel a bit rutterless.

I think the nursery time will help, actually--it'll give you time to miss your little girl, and appreciate better the time you're spending together. Hope you get through these next few months okay!

mm said...

Um, yeah. LL is precious and sweet and damn near perfect but I pretty much loathe being a SAHM... which begs the question, why don't I get off my rapidly expanding ass and go back to work? Because I'd loathe that, too. And I'd miss LL.

There really is no solution.

But I must tell you that the daycare will make a difference. I feel a lot less insane in the membrane on the days when I have a babysitter for a few hours.

Adrienne said...

Um, can I be understanding and supremely jealous at the same time?

I am feeling your pain, my friend, on the wallpaper paste-like sameness of day upon day at this age. It gets better (but not by much), as they get older. This is not to say that I don't love (LOVE!) my child. I do. It's just that mommy needs a bit more mental stimulation than preparing mac n' cheese from the box and choosing which episode of Blue's Clues to pop on the teevee. And variety. Some variety would be nice. Why oh why do they need mind-numbing repetition at this age?

But I have to say - 14 months of maternity leave? Landsakes, woman, that's a beautiful thing.

Mollywogger said...

Oh, dearest.

Do you need me to send cheese?

And somehow, SOMEHOW, I am getting out to your mommy's house to see you in July. Come hell or high water. Or mean, nasty bosses and homework.

Lindyloo said...

Hiya I just found your blog. Your little one is adorable. I've also stuggled w/ being home but for me it's more the loss of my independence. I'm easing into my June Cleaver role well though, I suppose it's becaue I don't have a choice. Putting Squidge in daycare would eat up all my money so why go back to work? I'm taking some courses(French and maybe marketing) this summer so that my brain doesn't atrophy! I just try to keep busy. I schedule things for Squidge 3 day out of 5 so I'm home w/ her on Mondays and Wednesdays. It helps to break up the week. I hope going back to work helps and that P enjoys it!

Lut C. said...

No one expects you to be on cloud number 9 all the time, right.
SAHM is a lonely occupation.

That said, I'm envious of your 14 months maternity leave.

Nico said...

I hope you don't mind a few suggestions, feel free to throw that cheese at me if you don't like them :-p I find my days at home much less mind-numbing if I get together with a friend with a similar aged babe. I seem to remember that you weren't overly enamoured with your mom's group, but I don't remember if there was anyone you did click with? I'm not doing this yet (I only have one "free" day at home), but a bunch of my friends are taking their babies to swim lessons - that might be a bit of a change. Also, there are apparently 'toddler time' classes at various gymnasiums, it might be worth looking around to see if you can find anything like that?

thirdtimelucky said...

I think I'd be a bit bored too although not having to work sound wonderful now.

H said...

First of all, the freaking out? Been there, and really sympathise. Have you had any further luck with the doctors about this? Because I am still not convinced that a self-help book is going to do the job...

As to the drudgery of SAHMness...I can't help from personal experience, but I do know that my sister absolutely loathed being at home full time. She got lonely and bored, and she loves her little girl to pieces. But...babies do not give particularly much mental stimulation. And...independence is a nice thing. My sister's solution, was to work three days a week and look after the baby for four. It means that when they are together they have quality time, and she's not so stressed out.

Obviously I'm not saying that this is what you should do; you should do whatever you want to! But its something that you can bear in mind, if you hate leaving P when you go back to work.

I hope you feel better soon.
:)

fisher queen said...

Sounds like you have a good plan, and I see some good suggestions here too. I wish your dr would get off his ass to help though.

Thalia said...

I think you've just discovered why women fought for the right to go back to work after maternity. It's really frigging boring staying at home with an infant. Nico is right, you need something different to do on 1-2 days. Someone to talk to who can talk back. Wish I could help.

j said...

"I always assumed that infertility was the singular barrier to my happiness"

If you find this not to be true I could be in some trouble. I think exactly the same way. And it terrifies me that my life has been reduced to happy/unhappy over one issue, large as it may linger.

And. Styx? Wow. Though sometimes, "Mr Roboto" enters my brain and won't leave. For days.

electriclady said...

Well, as a veteran of a grand total of three days back at work...I can say that working in an office is a helluva lot easier than caring for a child day in and day out. (Of course, my baby is still at the age where she has only about 45 mins a day where she is not sleeping or eating or fussing, so that contributes to it...) As Thalia already pointed out--hello, Betty Friedan. But it's funny that while working all I can think about is what I might be missing at home when the reality is I'm missing very little...except those 45 golden minutes.

millie said...

Also totally jealous of the 14 months thing (not to mention the totally adorable baby, but that's not the point).

How could you not go crazy without a bit of adult conversation? Are there any other moms who clearly less cooler than you but also discontented with the mom's groups or other offerings that are also going mad?

DementedM said...

"I always assumed that infertility was the singular barrier to my happiness"

Happiness, I've concluded, is a naturally temporal state. It's not made to last.

As for the boredom, I'm useless for advice. I was an only child for 15 years, I can entertain myself endlessly with things like lint and broken rubber bands. That and I have dogs and my repertoire of stupid dog tricks is infinite.

M

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

I have to admit that I am insanely jealous of the leave that you are offered while at the same time completely understanding of your intense boredom. I just don't think that I could stay out of work for that long without breaking out in hives.

Having said that, maybe it is time to look for another job. One that provides you with more satisfaction. Working is certainly not always wonderful and fulfilling, but dare I suggest that neither is parenthood? (I don't know this firsthand but have learned from my sister). But a job that gives you more of what you need might help you to feel a bit happier in your life generally.....

Tonya said...

I totally get where you're coming from. With my daughter, I had a great groups of moms and babes, and they were my sanity. Got me out of the house several times a week for pram walks and a playgroup.

I HAD to return to work when my daughter was 13 mos., and *hated* it but had no choice. I soon discovered that WOHM is easier! SAHM is the hardest job I ever had... probably exacerbated by the part about no vacation or sick leave, and no adult interaction unless I went out of my way to find it. Overall the perqs are nice, but the monotony just about did me in.

Sending a boot to the head for your Dr. At least I'm glad you'll soon get some time to your self again. It can really, really help. Hoping you find a good mix of things to help defrag a bit.

Lumi said...

Um, wow.

That's a toughie. And a toughie for me to comment on, becuase I would truly love to be in your shoes, seeing as how I had to beg and plead for the measly 5 weeks of maternity leave I was granted by my employer.

Can we switch places for a week? Hey-it would be like our own version of Freaky Friday! (but only if it's the old school Jody Foster/Barbara Harris one, not that stupid Lindsay Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis one)

On a more serious note, I wish there was an answer. But I do think that nursery time and trip abroad will help a great deal, and then you will be back at work.

ps...speaking of the trip...am I allowed to come and visit? I would absolutely adore an in-person meeting with the lovely lady who kept me sane for the past 2 years.

Twisted Ovaries said...

Duuuuuuuuuude. I had no idea you were feeling so rough.

I like the mommy group idea, although personally they kinda' worry me, as I never know when I'm going to fit in.

Also, I'm a big fan of medicating. Biiiiig fan. I'm not saying that's your answer, but there's almost a hint of (please, please don't hit me) what some women describe as post-partum depression (seriously, don't hit me, I swear I love you and am only remarking on what other women have said).

If not, want me to send margarita mix? It's totally a Band-Aid to the issues, but at least you won't insist on it being called a plaster.