Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Don't Sell Yourself Short Judge, You're a Tremendous Slouch

I know lots of working moms have Working-Mom Guilt, wondering if they should quit or go part-time to spend more time with their children. And most moms juggle so many tasks - work a full day, race to daycare for pickup, drop off the dry cleaning on the way home, fix dinner, do the laundry, check homework, referee squabbles, sleep too little . . .

When your spouse stays home and you go to work, the result is I-Don't-Do-Enough Guilt. It's even better when coupled with Daddy-Is-Better-at-This Suspicions.

When I get home at night, I play with the baby while Bump makes dinner. Bump typically runs errands and does the grocery shopping during the day, so there are lots of things that get done for me. When I do stupid things, like go to work without bottles to pump into, Bump brings them in. Bump also gets up when Lumpyhead wakes up at night.

I feel like a fraud when I categorize myself as a working mom. I guess I think of working moms and single moms as the same animal, those harried superwomen who do everything while their lazy husbands watch the game. (I also kinda think, "That's a little bit your fault, Lady. Get Sir Sofa Loafer to help out a little more, eh?" Unless, of course, you're truly on your own, in which case I think, "Damn. I could never do that. Never ever ever in a million years. You're friggin ah-maze-ing.")

I feel much more like a guy in the 1950s than a modern career mom. I worry I am the clueless dumbshit Dad who "gives Mom a break" by feeding the children Hostess cupcakes for dinner and forgetting to bathe them.

Several Saturdays ago, I needed to return some clothes and took Lumpyhead with me so Bump could sleep. I packed the diaper bag and set off, bursting with New-Mama pride. Strangers made googlie eyes at my darling bundle. Children craned their necks to see the pretty baby.

The Trainee behind the register was implementing a hostile takeover of Old Navy's East Coast operations (okay, that's a lie, but it was taking a reeeeally long time) and Lumpyhead started to fuss. Never fear! Mama has a bottle! Lumpyhead quieted while Trainee set his sights on the Midwest.

Lumpyhead finished the bottle by the time the Trainee achieved hemispheric domination. I completed my transaction, and Lumpyhead spit up. All. Over.

And there was no burp cloth in the diaper bag.

I had to ask Trainee for a tissue, and he produced the scary kind of paper towels that ancient Egyptians wrote on. But I managed to stop the dripping, and went home and cleaned the baby up for real. The other errands I had planned for the morning stayed on the To Do list.

This kind of thing does not happen to Bump. Maybe it's just a matter of having more practice taking the little guy on errands, but I was a hapless mess. I make up little excuses, like "he's a guy, so it's easier for him to lug around the car seat" and "he's tall enough to see over the car seat when it's in the shopping cart" but I know errands with the baby can't be easy for Bump either. This is why I have Daddy-Is-Better-At-This Suspicions.

I feel like I've usually got pretty good sensors for what Lumpyhead wants - when he's hungry, angry, in pain or just complainy. When he rubs his eyes and yawns, he's sleepy. (Pretty remarkable, those sensors, huh? I mean, who could guess that, other than his mother?)

Last night Lumpyhead fell asleep at 9 o'clock. This is noteworthy for a boy who usually won't sleep until after 2am. I hoped that this could be the start of a new schedule, and not just a late nap. Because Lumpyhead wakes up the minute his head hits his crib, I decided to hold him to try to keep him sleeping.

Our front door squeaks, so when Bump came home from pool at 11:30, Lumpyhead woke up (crap!). Then he went back to sleep (yay!). But Bump realized we hadn't gotten the mail.
Baby: [eyes flash open]
Me: Crap.
I put Lumpyhead down in our bed, and he rolled over and closed his eyes again. (yay!) Then Bump came back in.
Baby: [eyes wide open]
Me: Crapitty crap crap crap!
While I pumped, Bump changed Lumpyhead's diaper, and decreed that there was no way the baby was going down for the night yet.

Well, no. But before the door woke him three times and you changed his diaper, he really seemed like he was ready to go down for the night. Mutter, mutter.

But I tried a little longer to persuade Lumpyhead he really wanted to sleep. He rubbed his eyes and looked spacey, complained loudly, and would not be convinced. Bump did the dinner dishes, which had sat out all night, because I didn't have it together enough to even accomplish that.

At 12:45 am, I admitted defeat and went to bed. Bump stayed up with Lumpyhead, who went down for the night around 1:30 am.

It was a banner night for I-Don't-Do-Enough Guilt.


Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

1) He probably occasionally goes out without burp cloths and he just doesn't admit it because it is embarassing. Or- you can use a blanket.

2) You're doing great. You ARE a working Mom. And a working Mom that pumps is amazing. I can't imagine trying to do that.

Both sides are hard. Check out Sweet Juniper today. It might make you feel better. We're all in the same boat. Having kids is hard.

Misfit Hausfrau said...

You are WAY to hard on yourself! First of all, I have forgotten something of critical importance each and every time I went out with Baby # 2 up until she was 6 months old. #1--A bottle that had formula in it (I did bring empty ones though!)#2--diapers (and you know what happened then!) #3 extra onesies or outfits #4 burpcloths--I never remembered them and #5-my cell phone oh yeah and #6--babywipes. Seriously. Don't be so hard on yourself. This parenting stuff is hard!