While reading one (of many, looks like we have been blessed again with a child allergic to sleep) of books on babies sleep solutions, I came across a very useful piece of advice for newborn parents and that is – simplify your life. Mrs. Pantley reasons that expecting that your house looks like straight out of Elle Living, you whip up a five course meal every day and think up a new craft activity for your elder child(ren) every day while caring for a newborn is nothing short of setting yourself for a mental breakdown. All you really need to do in these first weeks is survive. And she promises that Martha Stewart will understand.
Now for those of you who have known me longer the fact that I need this sort of advice might come as a surprise given that I was never really a domestic type. Quite the opposite, during my school years (including university) I had thought of most domestic related activities as a pure waste of time. I mean if you cook today, at the end of the day there is nothing left but dirty dishes and tomorrow you do it all over again, right? The same goes for cleaning, baking and the rest of it. To make things clear, I was far from being “I can only fry an egg” type of girl. In our family we all did our share of household duties, so I could cook simple meals at a rather early age, helped with cleaning the house etc. I learned to bake cookies, crochet and knit from my grandma, mostly because I loved spending time with her and this is what she could teach me. So it is not that I was not able to do it, just that I thought that there are much better ways to spend your time. Including solving maths problems for fun. You can laugh/roll your eyes/do whatever you feel is appropriate now.
I started caring about some things domestic when I met and moved in with Mark. This is certainly not because Mark wanted me to turn into a domestic goddess. If you know him you know that he beams with pride when I publish a paper or give a good presentation much more than when I cook a good meal (could have to do with me not using enough meat though…). It is just that I loved having a home with him and I wanted our home to be homey.
It got even worse (in the eyes of old me) when Una was born. All of a sudden I felt the need to give her a perfect home, you know, with healthy, diverse home-made meals, nicely decorated house, enough creative stimulation, cozy family holidays traditions, keeping memories through photos, baby books, treasure boxes – you get the idea. I realised that I have been taking things like these that my parents did for granted, thinking that they just kind of happened. Of course, our home is far from perfect, we still have pizza days, lazy Sunday afternoons in front of TV, last-minute gift hunts and all that but in all honesty I think we are doing well, on most days. Sometimes I go into the panic mode thinking of all little things that need to be done and all the projects that I am so far behind on but mostly things are under control. I do tend to overestimate my capabilities vs my time, like when making the list of things to do while on pregnancy leave. I had a long list of things to do before baby Mili arrived but as you all know Nestor had other plans and turned my pregnancy leave into maternity leave two weeks short, leaving me with all these unfinished items on my list. And in the midst of the joy of meeting him and the exhaustion from running on minimal sleep these unfinished things were still somewhere at the back of my mind, reminding me that they haven’t been finished yet and keeping me up at night when what I really should be doing is using every moment possible to get some much-needed sleep. So I thought if I put them on paper (or in 1s and 0s as it happens) I will feel better about postponing them and make them sort of my “as soon as possible but not sooner than that” list. Here they are, in no (conscious) order:
– Finish Una’s baby book (it goes until 3 years old)
– Hang up the framed four-leaf clover in Una’s room (in my family we have a thing for four-leaf clovers and my dad found one for Una, I pressed it and framed it and now it is up to Mark to hang it on the wall)
– Frame and put up the three prints in Nestor’s room (this can’t really happen yet as my parents sleep in his-to-be room and he sleeps in our room and will continue to do so until 6 months or so.
– Make Una’s family photo collage – I want to make a collage of her extended family and put it up in her room
– Write in the book “letters to Una” more often – I have a little book where I write sort of letters to Una and intend to give it to her when she turns 18, 21, gets married? (haven’t decided yet).
– Decide what to do as a counterpart to the above for Nestor. I made a promise I would try to distinguish as little as possible between children if they are of the opposite sex but somehow do not see an 18-year-old boy thrilled with a book full of sentimental letters from his mum. Maybe I am wrong? Any other ideas?
I don’t think the list is finished but this is what comes to my mind now. It is not all that ambitious but in between caring for a 7 week old who screams bloody blue murder if he is not in someone’s arms and a 3.5 year old who is truly sweet and understanding but needs her mama, and trying to keep everyone fed, bathed and dressed there is not much time for even the simplest of projects.
And just to top it up, I set for myself another what-the-hell-was-I-thinking goal of finishing up and submitting two journal papers with the deadline of January 15 (this is not a self-imposed deadline). It is a once off opportunity as it is a special issue and I really don’t want to pass it up but finding time to work on them has been, hmmm, what is a politically correct word for $#$%#%*&& difficult? The work is by no means earth-shattering or energy crisis solving (although this is the topic in a way) but I put quite a bit of effort in it and don’t want it to go to waste.
To finish off this painfully long, very incoherent and overly dramatic post in the same dramatic manner – Martha Stewart might understand, but will Nikola Tesla?
And for those who made it through, a little reward: a photo of pure cuteness. They make it all possible and worthwhile.