Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tug-o'-War with Mama's Heart

Lately I've been feeling pulled in a lot of directions. Baby, work, time alone. Getting things done around the house. You know what I mean. As far as work goes: I've been working a little bit, here and there, throughout my leave, but for the most part my staff and coworkers have been great about not calling or emailing unless I ask them to. The other day I made the mistake of emailing someone who replied two seconds later with: "GREAT! We were wondering whom we should ask about that really important thing!" and I replied that they could feel free to ask me and I'd help as much as I could. I instantly got four more emails from different people saying: "I heard you were back, can you please let me know when we can meet about this other very important thing?" Ack. I am off disability now but I still have four weeks of vacation that I plan to take. Part of me wants to dive right back in - I truly love my job and I miss it - but the rest of me wants to say leave me alone, I am still on leave! I mean, how many times do you have your first baby?

I also feel torn about the idea of daycare. Obviously no matter how we work it, we will need someone to help us from time to time. Ideally we will be able to handle most of the child care ourselves. Johnny is a full-time student whose schedule has him home three days a week. I have the best boss in the world who does not mind if I work from home when I need to, or whatever hours I need to. So while I foresee a lot of logging in while burning the midnight oil, I do think that Johnny and I should be able to juggle caring for Thora mostly on our own until we feel she's ready for day care (and we can find something we can afford that meets our standards and her needs) with a little help for a few hours here and there. I know I need to get on this. However, there is just one problem. Me. I am totally dragging my feet. In denial.

I have not investigated daycare of any kind, not even babysitters. Nothing. Bottle training is going slowly. And worst of all, I have not yet left her alone. Not alone alone, but without me. I haven't gone anywhere without her. I've had offers from my parents, my mother-in-law, my husband. Go get your nails done! Go take a walk! So last week I tried. I really wanted to get my nails done. I haven't since before Thora was born and it showed. I refused to take her in with me though, because of the fumes in the nail salons. So I compromised with myself.

We are very lucky that in our new apartment, we have a washer and dryer. They are small though, and our two comforters don't fit. So they've been piled in the corner on the floor since we moved, full of cat hair and dust, getting more disgusting every day. Every day I told myself I was going to locate the nearest laundromat and just throw them in while I read a book or maybe even went for a manicure, but there wasn't one anywhere nearby that I could find. We have a dry cleaners across the street that takes laundry by the pound. I went in and asked if they did comforters. Their prices start at $40. What? Do they know what neighborhood they're in? Are they kidding? Eventually I found a laundromat. It's seven blocks away and it looks like something from a prison basement. It's terrifying, empty, dark. The machines are ancient. I told myself, okay, you'll drop the blankets off and go find a nail place. You'll pick them up on the way back. So one evening when Johnny was home, the weather was nice and Thora was in a good mood, I went for it. I nursed her until she was falling asleep, and then I tiptoed away and loaded up the granny cart and left.

I didn't take my giant bottle of cruelty-free scent-free baby-safe detergent with me. I didn't want it to get stolen if I left it there and I didn't want to schlep it to the salon that I had yet to even find. I figured it was only two loads and I could just buy the individual packets of whatever when I got to the laundromat. But no dice. Upon walking through the door, instantly felt like I was on another planet. There were only two women in the whole place and no machines in use. There was no manager, no vending machines, no soap anywhere. There were three change machines on the wall, two of which had signs saying Out of Order. I approached the women, thinking perhaps one of them worked there. Nope. Do they sell soap here? I asked. "There's a store around the corner," one said, in a not entirely unfriendly way. I walked to the corner. A bodega. I spent a fortune on a dusty bottle of some brand I'd never heard of, full of cruelty, no doubt, and perfumes and dyes as well. I went back. The one machine that appeared to be in service refused to take my singles. It happily took a $20 though, so I had ten pounds of quarters bulging from my pocket. I put the blankets in, and tried to figure out the machines. I had no help: The two ladies were gone and there were no signs anywhere except DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CLOTHS [sic] ALONE WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEFT. Theft? Who would want my wet blankets? I had second thoughts about leaving them and looking for a nail place. So I waited, and texted Johnny 345,673,458 times instead to ask how Thora was. Fine, fine! he said. Go get your nails done!

When the blankets were in the dryer and I had 43 minutes to either sit there, terrified, or go get my nails done and risk having my cloths thefted, I forced myself to leave and find a nail place. I walked one block further and the phone rang. "She's crying uncontrollably, come home now please!" Johnny begged. I ran the whole way, forgetting the blankets.

By the time I got home I was a wreck. I burst in the door and heard nothing. Well, something. Running water. I discovered Johnny standing in the bathroom holding Thora. Johnny, ingenious husband of mine that he is, remembered how much Thora likes the shower and how once when she was upset, taking her in the warm water with me calmed her down. So he was running the water and she was completely enraptured and staring at our black and white patterned shower curtain, totally happy. It was adorable. He looked exhausted and she looked like nothing was ever bothering her in the first place. He recounted to me how things had gone while I packed up the baby and we walked, as a family, to pick up the blankets. They were still there, clean and dry.

And the next day, Johnny came with me to the dentist, and then finally to get my nails done. Finally! He held Thora who slept happily in his arms throughout my cleaning and then at the nail salon in a chair near the door so she wasn't overwhelmed by fumes. It was so easy that I am now secretly hoping we can do everything this way. Do you think anyone will notice if I bring Johnny and Thora to work with me until she's old enough for school? I am kidding... mostly.

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