Edith is six months old today! This is a real benchmark in a number of ways; one is that she can now eat solid foods. Or more to the point, I can now give her solid foods, which she can smash into her face and hair until she at some point figures out what eating is. There are probably some other ones, but I am too tired to think of them right now. Because,
It’s Friday of my first week of being back at work. I remember when I graduated college and got my first “real” job, there was this point where I suddenly realized there would be no summers off anymore….ever. Like, I was just going to be working year-round for literally the rest of my life. I knew that long before I felt the reality of it, and when the reality of it sunk in, it felt impossible.
A similar thing has happened this week, as I realize that parenting is 24/7. I knew this intellectually before, but I did not experience the reality of it until this week. When I finish a day’s work, I can’t collapse. I have to care for an infant until I am back at work again. And now that it is Friday, I do not have two days of watching Netflix or reading novels or whatever. Instead, I have two days of full-time parenting.
It’s not that this is impossibly hard or anything, just like it wasn’t impossibly hard to quit having summers off. It’s just a massive mental switch in terms of how I think about what I need for my own personal wellbeing, and just in the rhythms of what it feels like to be a person. Like, I still have the expectation of two days of solitude and quiet, and I keep being surprised that they aren’t coming — and not just not coming this week, but never coming again (well, for many years at least). This is pretty identical to learning to stop anticipating the eventual conclusion of a year in three months off, to finding a different way to think about what “a year” meant. Now I have to change my definition of “relaxing” and “solitude” and “free time.” I can still have those things, but on a very different scale than I did previously.
I imagine this will be a bit easier when Edith starts reliably sleeping through the night, because at that point, each day will have an end again. Right now, my days do have a pause between about 7:00 p.m. and anywhere between 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., but this is more a break than a hard stop. As to when Edith starts sleeping through the night, going by the experiences of my friends who have had babies, this could begin anywhere from tomorrow to seven years from now. There is simply no way to know for sure.
The foreverness really is a slap in the face, in terms of shock. It’s hard not being able to turn “off,” though I promise you it does get better. This weekend I had some sadness because I had a long week last week and on Friday night I was just like, well, tomorrow begins my 48-hour long non-stop parenting job. It doesn’t feel like a weekend. I have deep jealously towards other adults who get to spend their weekend on things they choose to do. (And I was pleasantly surprised because while Grant and I did spend a LOT of time together doing things he wanted to do, I also got to spend time DURING THE DAY not giving him 100% of my attention.)
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