Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Mom Advice: The dishes and laundry can wait!

"The dishes and laundry can wait!" they said.

"Your newborn won't wait!" they said.

"Enjoy this time!" they said.

I remember when Lily was a tiny baby, I quickly grew frustrated by the fact that all she wanted was for me to hold her. I couldn't put her down for five minutes without her starting to cry. Of course I got plenty of advice to just put her down and let her cry. Or, if I picked her up all the time, she would NEVER want to be put down. As a first time mom, that advice bothered me. I didn't want to let her cry. She's a new baby after all. It's normal for her to want her mommy. I really just wanted to be able to put her down to do the things I needed to do and have her be content about it. It just didn't happen that way.

I tried babywearing. Lily hated it. She wanted to be held, but she didn't want to be smushed up against me. Or maybe, I just didn't know what I was doing and she could tell. Whatever the reason, babywearing never happened.

So I had a messy house. At least for a little while. It drove me nuts! I couldn't enjoy holding and cuddling my newborn when I knew there were dirty dishes in the sink and piles of dirty laundry in my bedroom. I scoffed when I would hear (or read on the Internet is more like it), "The dishes and laundry can wait." Because that's not realistic, right? You can't just NEVER do the dishes and laundry. I mean, stuff HAS to be done. You can't just live in filth!

Well, time went by and I figured things out. Lily grew up and eventually learned how to play by herself for long enough for me to get things done. Sometimes there were days where I would fall behind, but I always managed to catch up to a point that I call my "breathable level." There will always be dishes to do, and laundry will never end. But there is a point where the dishes are done enough and the laundry is done enough that I can put that urgent "need to do the dishes now" feeling out of my mind and enjoy being with Lily. 

When I was pregnant with Kimberly I would think about how I felt when Lily was a baby. I made a promise to myself that I would do better at not worrying about the dishes and the laundry. I would do better at soaking her in and not worry about the fact that all she'll want is to be held.

And I've done a decent job so far. She's only 2.5 weeks old, but I feel like she's grown up so much already. I asked Lily to take her time growing up. There were many nights as I was rocking and nursing her to sleep where I would whisper in her ear, " Don't grow up too fast, okay?" I begged her, but she's doing it anyway. I tried to enjoy her babyhood so much, that when I would think back on it, that I wouldn't need to miss it. Even with some of the worry about stupid things like dishes and laundry, I tried to cherish the sweet moments, the cuddles, the night time nursing and rocking so much I would never need to miss it. Well, it didn't work. I find myself missing it. I find myself wondering, "Did I soak it in enough?" And I am still begging Lily to not grow up too fast. I mean, she's already singing her entire ABC song and she wants to do everything herself! She's starting to decline hugs and kisses, and while I respect her desire for space, it breaks my mommy heart that she is growing up so quickly.

So when that familiar feeling of frustration started creeping up this morning when Kimberly wouldn't let me go two minutes without picking her up, I had to remind myself of the promise I made to myself. I wouldn't worry so much about the dishes and laundry. It would wait, and I could let it wait and it would be okay. 

And no sooner had I propped Kimberly up in my lap in a way that she was content enough for me to fold clothes, when Lily walked up with her birthday cake telling me to, "Blow!" It made her so happy for me to blow out the candles on that silly little cake toy. Her smile said to me, "I matter. My mommy thinks I matter." I wondered, "Can she tell? Can she tell that this takes effort for me? Can she tell I am trying not to worry about the dishes and the fact that I have spent the last five minutes trying to fold one towel? Can she tell that entertaining a toddler doesn't really come naturally to me? Can she tell that I am making an effort to be present for her? Is it okay that I am having to try and that it doesn't just happen?" I tried to stay in the moment with her, giving her my entire attention, and not worry about the awful poopy smell indicating a diaper change needed to happen and the missing articles of clothing that were no doubt removed and stashed in her bedroom. I wanted to remain completely present and not let any of those pressing "need to do's" interrupt the moment. They could all wait.

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