Thursday, April 16, 2009

Domestic Engineering

After two and a half weeks, you'd think I'd start to get used to this SAHM thing. On the contrary; I'm still swimming in the river known as Denial.

I often feel like I'm on vacation and at any moment, I'm going to be yanked back into the harsh world of continuous deadlines, high-pressure projects and ever-increasing demands. I find myself aimlessly refreshing my email, simply out of habit. I've had about 15-20 hours worth of billable work since I've made the switch from full-time to freelance but the vast majority of my projects have simmered down. I just don't know what to do with myself now that the work stress has been all but eliminated. I'm so used to being balls-to-the-wall, can't-find-time-to-pee-or-eat, insanely busy that I am dumbfounded to find downtime exists. I can actually shower, brush my teeth and eat lunch daily. A fresh, homemade lunch - no fast food crapola. I can visit friends (during the week - gasp!) and have playdates. I don't have to cherry pick which tasks/activities I have time for. It's amazing. Even my IBS seems to have magically resolved itself, which leads me to believe it has been stress-related all along. You're welcome for the oversharing. *wink*

I love how I can design my own day and not feel limited by the clock. I can relax. Sure, chasing after a mobile 8.5 month old is not exactly a day at the spa but it is much more enriching than drilling out media plans.

I still have my "oh shit!" moments where I wonder if I'm doing the right thing and how it will affect our family in the long run. Can we honestly afford to sacrifice my entire income contribution? But I try not to let the pessimism bog me down. When I feel the negative thoughts brewing, I force myself to consider the good I'm doing for and all the ways I am still useful as a member of the family and community. It may sound like the kind of self-help visualization propaganda as seen on TV but it really does help take the edge off and help me to stay grounded.

I've seen Nate smile more in the past couple of weeks than I think I have in his entire lifespan. I get the distinct feeling that he feels much more content and secure to have me home with him 24/7. He hasn't been nearly as cranky as he used to be (aside from a bit of teething - nothing that Hyland's teething tablets couldn't handle). He's almost a different baby. That, or I'm just seeing a side of him that I haven't noticed before. This alone makes me question my decision less and less. The benefits are obvious.

I've been able to really focus on Nate and meeting his needs. Instead of working for unappreciative, undeserving clients, I can devote my time to being the best mom I can be for my son. I feel like we've bonded all over again.

I can do modified CIO at night without feeling guilty that he could be craving more personal interaction. Last night, I put him down at 730pm without a problem. He woke at 1030pm and I nursed him. He woke at midnight fussing but fell back asleep within a half an hour. I heard nary a peep from him until 3am, when I nursed him again. He slept until 730am when we both woke for the day. Total: 2 night wakings. Progress. All due to consistency. I've traded exhaustion for determination and it is paying off.

I can easily read his signs for naptime and ensure he gets his two essential naps a day. One in mid-morning and one in mid-afternoon. I can usually preempt the crankiness and put him in his swing after the first yawn, where he naps peacefully for 1-1.5 hours. Granted, the swing can just barely swing his heavy ass. But until nighttime sleep is under control, I will not be disturbing the nap routine.

I can allot more time to practicing with solids. Since the Great Sweet Potato Discovery of 2009, Nate will now eat two 2 oz. meals per day. A few times I've given an early morning meal but I only offer this if he seems dissatisfied after nursing on both sides. He generally gets 1/2 jar Stage 2 fruit for brunch and 1/2 jar Stage 2 veggie, meat or pasta in the evening along with a handful of puffs at each sitting. It's been a challenge and I still rely heavily on singing songs and making faces to get the job done. But ultimately, I'm just thrilled that he is open to the idea of swallowing more than breastmilk. Maybe - just maybe - I will be able to start weaning upon reaching my goal at one year. I was beginning to think I'd be breastfeeding until he was two. There is hope for us yet.

We have lots of playtime together and I rotate toys on a daily basis so he doesn't grow bored. I alternate between being the showman and the passive observer. I demonstrate but then allow him to follow suit. I watch him as he experiments and moves from one thing to the next. I can see the hamster wheel turning in his noggin as he tries to learn how to operate certain toys or to mimic my actions. He loves anything with lights and sounds but when my eardrums need a break from the repetitive refrains, there are also several simple toys that hold his attention.

I know I may get flamed for this but we also watch TV together. We aren't glued to the boob tube by any means. We enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice and I certainly don't rely on it as a babysitter. But he loves the visual and audio combination so I'll turn on Nickelodeon, Disney or MPT to provide some background noise. Right now, his favorites are Dora the Explorer, Spongebob, Sesame Street (cutest thing - he smiles and laughs at loud whenever Elmo appears), and Backyardigans. I have to say that many of the shows nowadays have an element of adult entertainment so I'm not constantly searching for a sharp object to gouge my eyes out. My particular favorites are Back at the Barnyard, Olivia and iCarly. Yes, I probably should be watching soap operas and court shows but I admit it's nice to tap into my childish side now and again.

All in all, things appear to be working out well so far on the SAHM front. I am taking to it like a fish to water. Except the housework and cooking. Okay, so I'm no June Cleaver. I've never been great at managing more than dishwashing and laundry in a day. But I'm slowly improving in this department.

I knew all along my heart belonged at home with my son. The ability to surrender to this desire seems too good to be true.


Denise said...

It sounds like you made the right decision staying home with Nate. And now that you're seeing the benefits, I say don't look back and second guess your decision anymore. Enjoy SAHMhood!!

Fertilized said...

You sound like you are doing an awesome job. I agree with Denise. Just live life and let it go.

About the food thing, Have you heard of child led eating?

We also have the tv on a times with MT is in the room and He doesn't even really care about it.

You know whats best for your family. Keep on doing a great job and enjoy.

Do you have Noggin? Backyardigans are among our favs

Emily said...

you rock.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

So glad that things are working out so beautifully for the both of you! And for the record, we watch TV too at times. Lemy LOVES Yo-Gabba-Gabba. OMG. She laughs and dances and we all (G included) end up watching and singing along and dancing with her. Its quite hilarious. :)