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In Which I’m Jealous, For a Day, of My Pre-Baby Self

Taylor Newman

I’ve noticed a disconcerting pattern, lately, concerning Saturdays. I’ve never been a morning person on any day of the week-- my I-can-do-anything attitude consistently hits its stride in the early afternoon-- but waking up on Saturdays used to be a distinct pleasure, and now Saturdays clock in as the worst wake-up of the week. I used to savor that dawning realization that I could laze in bed a bit longer, that the weekend was just beginning, and that coffee, the farmer’s market, non-work-related projects, and social engagements awaited… and would wait, without urgency, until I was good and ready to start my day (remember morning sex?). These days, well, Saturday mornings don’t go down like that at all.

This week’s Saturday problem started on Friday, actually. My weeks are packed, with a part time job, freelance work, massage classes, and being a baby-mama. I’ve set up my life to allow active-duty time with Kaspar every day, which is deliberate and something I wouldn’t give up for the world, but it means all of that other stuff gets, um, stuffed in around the edges. I’m usually okay with our syncopated rhythm, but it also sometimes feels kind of insane. This past week was particularly grueling, as Kaspar decided 3 AM was party-time for four nights in a row, my job hit a particularly busy patch, and I now have two overlapping massage courses going at once for a couple of weeks before they even themselves out (one is about to wrap up, and the other’s just beginning). Aaron’s been in the midst of a big project, as well, so I took on the majority of midnight diaper duties to allow him a little extra rest. So by Friday, I was spent. Still, I had a class in the morning and went in to the office afterward to take care of some lingering work— which meant I was skipping out on baby duty, and Aaron had to cover (enter, mom- and spouse-guilt). I didn't have enough time to finish the work, but I took the bus home around 5 PM. It drove straight through downtown, which was crawling with people in their Friday-casual office clothing, or just-arrived-for-South-By-Southwest clothing, fresh-faced and eager to get their drink and dine on.

That’s when I felt a little twinge of something: exhaustion mixed with envy, I think. I was jealous, for a moment, of our pre-baby Fridays, of Fridays meaning it was time to take a load off, take a break, take ourselves out on the town. I know it’ll happen again; I know the intensity will ease up as Kaspar gets bigger. It already has, to some degree, and when I notice that I feel a twinge of something else—that he’s-growing-so-fast feeling that us moms can’t help but feel. Sigh.

Anyway, Aaron and I gave ourselves a fake-break Friday evening, after Kaspar was in bed. We got some minor work items out of the way (we’re not actually workaholics; we’re just forced to fit it in where it fits… which is sometimes Friday nights) and then watched part of a movie. Just as I was about to pass out, however, Kaspar wanted up again; I didn’t actually get to close my eyes until two in the morning. Although Aaron did the honors and got up with Kaspar at 6:30 so I could get some extra rest, my mood was already shot. I was in that warped, sleep-deprived morning setting (waking up tired just feels bad, right?), and thinking about doing the laundry, grocery shopping, errands and other domestic stuff there hadn’t been time for during the week felt like a drag, as well as overwhelming. I could hear Kaspar fussing in the other room, so I got up; he clung to my leg as I peed, as I threw on some clothes, as I tried to pour a cup of coffee and put some food in my mouth. I felt another twinge—recalling the pre-baby me who peed alone, who ate food and drank coffee like a normal human being and not a speed-eating champion— and then felt badly about resenting, on any level, this post-baby life we’re living… because of course I love my baby, and my life. But, I could stand for a little more sleep, and sometimes for just a little more space, time, or whatever it takes to shake the negativity when it strikes, give myself a mama pep-talk. Instead, I’ve got a kid cleaved to my body and a million things to do. This was me feeling sorry for myself.

Aaron asked if everything was okay, and I grumbled a complaint (or… five) about all of the above, and then left for the grocery store (etc.). Kaspar fell asleep on the way, which was a good thing, because I cried in the car. Yep. Just for a minute. Just a little frustrated. And tired. So I cried.

But, it was a beautiful day, the kind of beautiful that can’t be ignored even just walking through a parking lot. Kaspar danced in the grocery cart seat, too, all around the store. He was charming from start to finish. Our errands were a breeze. Driving home, missions accomplished, I felt just fine. Positive. I-can-do-anything. I realized what I already know, what in fact fuels this 24/7 power-thon that is motherhood: life is a little intense right now, but it’s good, and if I just roll with it instead of resisting it, I have a lot more energy for it, and can take it—enjoy it—as it comes.

Yes, I am tired. No, we haven’t been ‘out’ much in the evenings (but we did spend Saturday afternoon on the grass in a park, with Kaspar practicing walking between us. And we did go out to a swanky jazz brunch with friends on Sunday. We do still have our fun; my Saturday morning mind forgets this). Yes, my to-do list is long and my work goals get shifted and shafted and I am sometimes jealous of the pre-baby me, who wasn’t beholden to anyone. But then I look at the little guy who I’m so in love with (and come home to the big guy I was in love with first, and still am, who did the laundry, and vacuumed, while I was out.... What a stud!), and realize that my life is indeed full, in every respect. Full of love, full of meaning, full of big things and small things and people who make my world turn. Too full of good things for sleeping in on Saturday mornings. All told, I’m okay with that trade.

How was your weekend? Do you ever miss your life before becoming a parent? Do you have any reliable tricks that you pull out of your hat for when you’re feeling frustrated, tired, or just plain spent? How do you get yourself back on track, and what keeps you going when you’re permanently on-call? I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and ideas!