Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Fighting vainly the old ennui"

Have you ever had one of those terrible stomach flus that knocks you down for the better part of a week and at first you're all like, "Sweet Jeebus, why oh why have you forsaken me? I've been dry heaving for half a day and there's no diarrhea left for my ass to spray, JUST MAKE THIS END!" And then, when the worst is over you practically weep joyful tears over that first glass of water and bit of dry toast you're able to hold down, and then oh, look there's a "Beverly Hills 90210" marathon for the next few hours - life is good, life is great! Then later, when there's no more "90210", no more stuff you can think to look up on the internet and real food just isn't appealing yet, you think, "Damn, I'm bored," but you know you're nowhere near ready to face the world because just getting up to go to the bathroom makes you feel dizzy and weak - you ever have one of those stomach flus?

Extend that experience over several months and that's life with a baby. Granted, the details are different. The initial misery probably doesn't involve much diarrhea or vomiting. Instead it's just a constant panic and confusion plus sleep deprivation. Then, after a few months, you start to get the hang of things and maybe you even sleep for extended periods of time. Shit, when we graduated to just three middle-of-the-night feedings I thought I had it made, so thankful was I for that sense of relief. But then the tedium set in. My daughter is sixteen months old. I've spent most days of the week with her since she was born. This is a mostly ideal arrangement and I feel very fortunate to have this time with her as she grows and flowers so fast but OH MY WORD do I get bored.

Maybe it's our circumstances. We're a one car family so she and I are often at home. We make the most of it. I take her for long walks when it's warm outside. That'll kill a couple hours. I love reading to her, but she's only into that if she's sleepy. Otherwise she plays. I'm pretty bad at pretending to be interested in her toys. Lucky for me, she's very good at amusing herself. She has her barn and her blocks and her scooter. I have my iPad. Now that she's walking and so geeked to explore everything, I'll let her wander around the usually closed off, non-childproof parts of the house. She has so much fun. My only job during that time is keeping her from killing herself, so I follow her, closing doors and presenting distractions as needed. It isn't a taxing task but it's dull, and dullness can take a lot out of me. Sometimes in the afternoon, when my energy is shot, I turn on the TV to mesmerize her while I get chores done, but sometimes I'll just zone out, too. Her favorite shows are "Dragnet" and "The Partridge Family". That's cool. I'd let her watch annoying, "educational" kids' shows if those stations came in on our antenna, but I'm secretly glad they don't. She's a good kid, so I don't need to do much policing. I probably spend 30 minutes average out of every day telling her to not throw her food on the floor, or scream in my face, or try to climb up the bookshelf from the arm of the couch. Nevertheless, by the time Dan gets home I feel so desperate to be alone and away from her, I'll hole myself up in the bedroom for a half hour. I usually emerge in fairly good spirits. That's pretty much my every weekday. It's not bad. It could certainly be way worse. But when friends ask, "What have you been up to?" I simply don't have much to say.

I'm not asking for your sympathy, nor am I asking for your suggestions, either. I accept boredom as an inevitable part of this phase. The most important thing is that she's healthy, developmentally on target and quite sweet and cheerful, so I don't worry about our lifestyle having a negative impact on her. Eventually, I'd like to put her in daycare because I think she'd thrive in that environment. Likewise, I think I'd benefit by returning to some sort of full time paid labor, but for various logistical reasons we're not there yet. I'm doing my best to enjoy our temporal lot, but it's as imperfect as anything. Also, I've never experienced this sort of life before, which might be the reason I feel compelled to describe it. Or maybe it's just to prep you for the next time you see me. If my eyes are glazed over and I don't have much to say for myself, you'll know why.

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