My hairdresser asked me this question idly the other day, while cutting my hair. I wonder if it’s only stay at home moms that get asked this question. I tried to decipher the intention behind the words. Was it condescension (“I know what I do, I cut hair every day. And I get paid for it”) or genuine curiosity? Either way she seemed like she was totally lost for what I would get up to, and baffled as to how I could possibly spend my days at home with my toddler.
So, I have taken today, 13 February 2014, when he is exactly 20 months, to write down everything that happens. It is a “boring” day, we aren’t doing much today, which is why I want to write about it. Being at home all day may seem mundane to some, but I believe it is the single most important thing for me to be doing right now, and I want to do it for as long as I possibly can.
Wake up and go:
5:30: The day starts when Nicky has his first feed. I don’t actually know what the time was. Sometimes he feeds a lot earlier. Today he cried and I rolled over and popped the boob in his mouth. Easy early morning drinkies. Rolling over and meeting the need for comfort and food all in one is incredibly satisfying.
6:00 I manage to retract the boob and get up, prepare breakfast and have a shower. I take the car out too. I blow dry my hair in another room so as not to wake him yet.
7:00 By this time my DH (Dear Husband) is up and showering and Nicky is turning a bit, but not completely awake yet. I sit there, smiling, watching him until he opens his eyes and grins at me. Now comes the first torture session of the day as we put clothes on. He tolerates it well enough.
7:15 I pop Nicky in the car in his car seat and make sure he has a few toys to keep him busy. He has his book on trucks, his noisy toy cellphone and a koala bear.
7:20 We lock up the house and leave. I am taking my DH to work. He doesn’t drive due to epilepsy. We sit in traffic and listen to the radio. Nicky presses his cellphone every now and then to add to the noise. DH sits in the back with him. Yesterday he even fed him his banana breakfast due to us going to the doctor afterwards, which was so cute.
8:30 We are back at the house. I take Nicky out the car and he goes round and round it checking it out. This gives me a chance to get breakfast all organised and on the table. Nicky likes to eat the oats but he leaves all the bananas. I’ve made him some baby tea as well, and he takes a few sips of that to wash down the medicine, as well as some water.
He then cries for a booby feed, the first of many, and then he gets hold of his broom and starts sweeping. I am off to the loo. While I am busy there, I hear this terrible banging. My mind is concocting the worst kind of furniture destruction, so when I get to the study to find Nicky banging his broom on the door, I laugh with relief. He is having so much fun and so happy banging his broom I can’t possibly be mad. I just give my happy boy a hug.
Playing while Mom cooks:
I get going with making dinner while Nicky goes outside. He is now busy putting the broom in the dog water. Since this is an extra dog water bowl I leave it be. He also takes his scooter and reverses it. I’m not sure if he’s trying to put it in the drain or what. However I can see the concentration in his face as he manipulates the objects and splashes the water. This is what makes my heart happy: when I see him play and work out things in his head.
Eventually I hear a grunt at the door, and sure enough, he wants to come in with the scooter, but needs help getting it over the step. I help him lift it over and he pushes it through the kitchen and down the passage.
Then he runs to me with open arms, crying.
In my arms I feel his pants are wet from sitting in the water, so we do pants and nappy change and another boob feed. I leave him in the room (which is right opposite the kitchen) while I carry on cooking.
In the kitchen I discover the poached fish pan is burnt because I forgot to turn off the stove while I nursed Nicky. Frustrated with myself I pour water over it and add a whole lot of bicarbonate of soda. The fish is fine after I’ve peeled off the burnt bits.
10:00 I try to feed him the banana from breakfast, and amazingly he is hungry by now. He is running around in-between spoonfuls and I mash the potatoes. I am nearly done with the food. I also give him his tea and he drinks some of it.
10:45 He comes in with a lullaby CD (which we got in the Discovery Baby pack) which is right on time for his nap. Nicky normally goes down for his nap around 11am.
We tidy up all the plastic containers which for the second time that morning are strewn all over the kitchen and we also pack all his letters away. I am so proud of my baby when he helps me do this.
In his room we get ready for the nap. I can smell he has pooped by now so we change his nappy too.
Nicky has a bit of flu and his nose is all blocked so we have to sort that out too. I hate doing this as it really feels like torturing him, but I know he will sleep better if it is sorted. So I start with my normal method of using an ear bud, which doesn’t quite do it as his nose is very runny. So I have to bring out the big guns of the spray (which he hates). Much crying ensues. I also have a gel which I rub on his chest which helps his breathing. After all the crying I give him boob, which sure as anything sends him to sleep. The whole process takes about fifteen minutes, and the CD is almost finished. As I slink out he has a massive coughing fit and I have to slink back in to feed him to sleep again. My poor, sick, boy. But this time it’s faster. Watching my baby sleep is such a peaceful experience.
11:30 Finally asleep, I can work. I have a nice phoning job. My current task is almost finished and all that remains is a few Telkom calls. This is nice because I can do other stuff while on hold. I am on hold for a good twenty minutes today. I am finally through to the ADSL lady and she is busy testing the line when Nicky cries. I have to excuse myself, calm him down and try again. I get another twenty minutes to work (the wait is much shorter this time) before he cries again. We are interrupted by the phone which I ignore. When Nicky is asleep I phone my DH back (who else can it be, lol?) and it turns out he wants me to fetch a laptop. I finish up my work (and most of this post) before I get going on my other, data capture, job. It is now 1pm.
I am busy filling in Eskom details wondering why something doesn’t seem right when I realise I have the wrong month and have to shift things over. Once I’ve done that it all makes sense. I manage almost an hour of this work before Nicky wakes again. After I give him another boob-to-sleep I am super hungry, and at quarter past two I make myself a sandwich.
I’ve just finished doing that when I hear some noises coming from his room. He is quietly playing with his foam letters. I am glad to see him happy and awake and get lunch all set up.
Afternoon: Food and play
I have left over baby food from the night before and I also give him some of my sandwich. Nicky helps himself to two spoons of the baby food after which he shakes his head decisively. I like that he can tell me when he’s had enough. He doesn’t even bother with the bread. I finish up my sandwich while he plays with his food. We also have the meds.
After a nappy change, I start finishing up the dishes when he moans a bit and we settle down for a long boobie feed. Nicky is holding his yellow dog and driving it all over me. (This is why I always make sure he has a small wheely thing, there have been times when he’s wanted to drive the big truck all over me, you can just imagine that…)
Nicky becomes bored with driving yellow dog on wheels and figures hitting me with his toy would be more fun. I manage to deftly stop him each time but there is one time I miss and the plastic dog connects squarely with my lip. “Ow Nicky that was sore!” I yell. All my good intentions of the Orange Rhino Project (where you track your triggers) are out the window. But I note that it is now 3pm and have more understanding that my patience has worn thin. I apologise to Nicky, realise I should have taken the dog away and given him something soft to play with, and carry on feeding. He blinks his expressive eyes at me in acknowledgement.
16:00 is time for feeding the dogs and Nicky gets his yoghurt. He likes to walk around in between spoonfuls.
After this I decide to take the dirty nappies outside which is a good chance for us to all run around and get fresh air. I have my IPad with and am busy doing comments on the SITS girls commenthon where you have to do 15 comments per day. I have no idea what possessed me to do so much commenting but I’m having fun exploring new blogs.
In the car again:
16:35 DH calls for me to go fetch the laptop so we jump into the car to go to the computer fix-it shop. It is smooth sailing getting there but so much traffic coming back! Even stay at home moms deal with traffic, you know!
18:00 is supper time and meds again. Nicky is super hungry and eats all his mash potato, peas and the odd bit of fish of our fish pie.
I don’t know how other moms find their success in reading bed time stories at this age. Nicky just wants to grab the book and control things himself. He has grabbed a creation book which has animals you pull out which he likes to play with. While he is busy with that I read him the nursery rhymes book but he grabs that from me too so I don’t manage to read much.
18:30 We are enjoying having our bath. Nicky loves playing with his toys and splashing around. When he starts pouring water and throwing toys out the bath I tell him bath time is over. We get dressed into our PJs.
18:45 – 19:15: I attempt at least three times to get Nicky to sleep. In the end I give up and he starts sweeping with the big broom (since his is outside drying after he wet it with the dog water, put it in the mud and I had to rinse it). I am catching up with all my emails on my IPad while he is busy.
We go into his room and he plays with his toys. At about 8pm he starts whimpering so I try the sleep thing again. Unsuccessfully. Instead I decide to play with him on the bed and I lift him up and he giggles with delight.
Sleeping in the car:
20:15 Finally he is on the point of sleep when the phone rings. Perfect timing. I pop him into the car and he falls asleep. When we get back home at about 9pm I forget to deactivate the alarm. It goes off and we have to unset it and deal with ADT phone calls.
Amazingly Nicky sleeps through all of this and as I take him out the car and off to bed I don’t even have to give him a bit of boob to sleep again.
The little dude is super tired after another busy day.
Of course my day is far from over, as I head off to the computer again…
It’s a long night
I’m not quite sure where one day ends and the next begins because at 11pm Nicky woke up again and it took a very long time to get him back to sleep. Poor little sick dude had to be tortured with meds again so that he could eventually drift away.
Motherhood is undoubtedly the most exhausting thing you can do and when you deal with it all day long it becomes even more so. I think it is hard enough without people questioning why you would want to do this, day after day. The answer is simple. No matter how mundane or emotionally draining it may be, one little smile or giggle, one little contented sigh: these are all things that make the daily grind worthwhile.