You are here

All I Want for Valentine’s Day is a Time Out

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

So, as I started to mention last Monday, the past couple of weeks have been a bit challenging around my house. I am usually an annoying optimist, glass-half-full gal, but even I can’t find the light at the end of this very dark tunnel, along which lies an injured husband with a degenerating disc who’s in a lot of pain; a coughing baby who’s been traumatized by daycare (remember when I said his first day went great? Second and third day: Not so much!); a nanny who’s been out of the country for over a week now; a city that’s buried in mountains of icy snow that are quickly turning into mountains of dirty slush; the growing list of things I need to do at work, oh remember work?; and the physical and mental exhaustion and toll all of this stress has been taking on me. Remember me?

My husband says I worry too much. I say he should worry more. I worry about tomorrow; I worry about 5-10 years from now. I worry about his condition, and how we’re going to handle things till he’s better. I worry about how much work I’ve missed the last two weeks because of the blizzard and all these personal issues (and because I haven’t had consistent childcare since exactly two weeks ago).

I am very worried about putting Preston in daycare and whether or not that was the best decision for him (and us right now) -- I’m literally dreading with every bone in my body sending him back on Tuesday, probably even more than he is, though for his sake I am pretending to be positive about it. Last Tuesday I was that mom with the kid hanging onto my leg... I had to leave him there crying, hysterical. I was an emotional wreck too, though I didn't let him see it. This transition has been the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a parent -- harder than even going back to work after my maternity leave.

He’s even having some rough nights at home since daycare started. This is a kid who’s been sleeping 10-12 hours a night since about 6-7 months old. He was up from 2-4 a.m. the other night, crying and crying, for no apparent reason. And last night, after a happy, fun-filled day, he wouldn’t go to bed -- stayed up till 11:30 p.m. He has become so clingy in the last two weeks because of all this change, and probably because I’ve been home much more than usual -- when I’m in his presence, he only wants to be with me, or rather on top of me. I used to love that I was his favorite person; he’s such a cuddly, sweet boy -- who doesn’t want their baby hugging them and loving them all day long?

Here’s the part I probably shouldn’t admit: After two straight weeks of being pulled in 29 different directions, playing the role of the stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home wife, housekeeper, cook, nurse -- trying to keep the house in order, the groceries stocked, the laundry done, the nursery replenished, my boys happy and comfortable during all this upheaval, all the things I said I loved as a mom that I never thought I would? -- I am totally and completely spent. It’s not that I can’t handle all these duties, if that’s all I had to worry about. But I also have the weight of a demanding full-time job. A job and career I happen to love and cherish.

Which leads me to the other thing I probably shouldn't admit out loud: I actually miss going to work. Phew, I said it. I miss work. Who misses work? There have been so many days since becoming a mom that I’ve left the house heartbroken, leaving my son behind for the day… But now that I’ve had a good taste of what life would be like if I didn’t work? All I want to do is leave the house and escape to a world where babies don’t tug on me all day long. There aren't babies toddling around the offices at Playboy.

But my family comes first, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to take care of my boys obviously, so work has had to take a backseat to all of this…so has my vacation to Miami we had planned for this weekend. So while I was supposed to be sipping a cocktail poolside the last five days, instead I ended up doing quite the opposite of that.

To make matters worse (I feel like I said that last week), I’ve been interviewing nannies to help out during this transition period and especially while our nanny is out of town, and I found a young woman to come help me today so I could get some work done finally. I met her on Wednesday, and she was supposed to come back today to do a working interview, but 30 minutes before she was supposed to be here she canceled! A perfect cap to the hardest two weeks of my life as a working wife and mother…

My husband actually gave me a little hall pass yesterday, and I got to hide out in my bedroom, my personal mom cave, and have a couple extra hours to myself after Preston’s nap. But the minute I came out of my room -- a girl needs to eat after all -- I wanted to crawl back in. I can’t eat, finish a cup of coffee, or go to the bathroom without a toddler following my every move and/or whining and crying for me to pick him “Up, up! Mama, mama!” And then he wouldn’t go to sleep last night till 11:30 p.m., because his cough has taken a turn for the worst. Or maybe he knows Tuesday is right around the corner... Just when I thought the night was over and I could crawl back in bed to lie on an ice pack and veg out, he started crying -- it's like an internal alarm went off (Mommy’s relaxing, time to be clingy!) -- so I brought him into our bed for two hours to try to get him to fall asleep with me. (By the way, it didn't work. My husband came home from work and finally got him to sleep.)

So I figured out what I want for Valentine’s Day during all of this. The gift of alone time. I don’t need anything material -- although I'll admit, I’m a sucker for roses and a nice card (not that I'm hinting) -- but all I really want is to be left alone for a full day. I want 24 hours to myself. I don’t want to go out to a fancy dinner, or buy anything special…I want to spend a day alone, by myself, without the sound of a baby monitor next to me. Maybe I’ll sleep half the day, or maybe I’ll watch a chick flick I’ve already seen a thousand times. I just want a full 24-hours locked inside my bedroom, my mom cave. Maybe I’ll come out for food, or maybe I won’t. But either way I’ll be happy.

I guess what I’m saying is, I wish someone would give me a time out.

Since becoming a parent, have you ever wished you could take a day off from your own life? On a more uplifting note: What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Make me jealous!

P.S. I'm on Facebook here, and Twitter @spgorenstein. Friend and follow me! I'm not usually this grouchy.