a lesson in time management
In the weeks after Munchkin was born, we were all too happy to spend every waking moment of our time with him. In fact, we found it difficult to put him down even when he was asleep, preferring to let him slumber peacefully in our laps while we watched a movie or tried to multitask on the computer. But then there were two of us sharing parenting duties — with no other responsibilities to think of — plus we had many visitors who were eager to cuddle Munchkin and take him off our hands.
It was only after D returned to Moldova and S took Munchkin to her parents’ house in Bangor that it fully dawned on her just how impossibly fast time flew by when she was left alone with Munchkin. That first week, she barely managed to leave her bedroom before the early afternoon. It was surprisingly challenging to go from living in a compact 2-bedroom apartment to a 2-story, 4-bedroom house. Even with a basinet and wrap that she used to wear Munchkin, she frequently failed to make it down to the kitchen or into the shower. S started taking meals upstairs, collecting an assortment of dishes in her bedroom.
Her days looked more or less the same as when D had been home on paternity leave: a non-stop cycle of nursing, pumping, keeping Munchkin active, and sleeping whenever he gave her a chance. S wanted to blog during her two weeks in Bangor, but quickly found that she couldn’t even manage to check her email some days, and only now has found the time to put her thoughts into words. Even when it was time for Munchkin to get some rest, it usually required a lot of effort to rock him to sleep. And it seemed that as soon as he was asleep his eyes would spring open again and he’d make it clear in no uncertain terms that he needed to be fed, changed, or both. The little guy consumed so much of her day that S was left wondering how she spent her time before he entered our lives and how she would ever have time to herself again.
Thankfully, the subsequent week proved easier. S’s grandmother came to visit with her partner, and S’s sister flew in from Chicago again. S’s dad also took a few days off work, so even though S was still on her own for night duty, during the afternoons and evenings there was no shortage of hands waiting to help and cuddle Munchkin. S needed the extra time at home to await the arrival of Munchkin’s dip passport, whose issuance appears to have been bungled and delayed for weeks, but it also meant that Munchkin could get his 2-month vaccines a couple of weeks early, meet his new pediatrician, and attend his first Passover seder.
After 16 days without D, S found she had more to say about parenting as a whole than about going it alone. She discovered that…
- with a newborn, mundane daily tasks are elevated to a new level of appreciation, where showering feels like a decadent luxury, even if it doesn’t happen until well into the late afternoon
- her attention is always divided and her concentration is never fully on the conversation or task at hand
- parents get lavished with a lot of attention for their little ones and while the doting is no surprise, she finds herself beaming with pride over this little person we’ve made
- it’s next to impossible to be on time (not that we were particularly timely people before having a kid) especially since no one in their right mind wants to wake a sleeping baby
- while we are seemingly far from establishing a schedule, there is now a distinct playtime after feedings and before naptime; what is most striking to us is how quickly (we’re talking nanoseconds) the smiles and giggles give way to hysterics when the fun is over
- parenting is an extreme lesson in letting go of control, since you really have very little
- babies change so quickly that just when you have something ironed out, things recalibrate and a new challenge arises.
Though surely a time will come when S will write about single parenting, that time is not now. And for that S is incredibly grateful. Thanks to her supportive and involved family, even when D was half a world away she was never alone.