I decided to browse through my archives today, reading through the months where Annabel was the age that Cameron is now. I wanted to see what was different and what was the same.
A lot was the same. I was tired (check, at least somewhat), worried about my crappy diet/postpartum body (check, and obviously they go hand in hand), and annoyed by pumping (check, but not as much this time, THANK GOD). I also seemed a bit frantic about all the details, and spent a lot of time worrying that I was missing the forest for the trees, which was probably right on target.
Despite the above parallels, I’m definitely more peaceful this time around. This may be because I now understand just how transient every stage actually is, or because I now know that ‘perfect parenting’ is a) overrated and b) impossible. Cameron was checking out Mickey’s Clubhouse as Annabel watched it this morning, and I didn’t spend those five minute picturing his brain cells frying — I sat back and watched it too. When he doesn’t make it a perfect 3 hours between feedings, I just pop him back on instead of panicking about my ‘supply’. I’m still far from laid back (you should see my pumping logs . . .) but I’ve come a long way.
Things are easier this time around because I have a lot of help. After years of making nearly every dinner and packing lunch, I rarely cook anymore (although I do miss it). Aside from sweeping (very) occasionally, wiping down surfaces and picking up toys, I don’t do any of our ‘real’ cleaning. I don’t even do 90% of the laundry or grocery shop. I am able to spend my time off mostly just being with A&C, with a modest but important fraction doing things for myself, and a small slice of it on ‘life upkeep’ kinds of activities.
Also: compared to last time, I am much less conflicted about working. Instead, I am just so thankful that I have a job that feels meaningful and is enjoyable, interesting, and compensated well enough to help me feel justified in outsourcing the tasks I mentioned above. I do not dread heading out the door every morning, but I also look forward to coming home, every day. If that doesn’t qualify as ‘balance’, then I’m done looking for it.
I think that many times, women are afraid to admit this in public, because it could be seen as cold or unmotherly. I LOVE my babies (yes, A still is one at times) fiercely. I love rolling around with them on the floor giggling, and nursing Cameron to sleep. Reading to Annabel and teaching her things is incredibly rewarding and fun. But so is seeing patients in clinic and helping them with a skill set that I worked a really long time to acquire.
Hmm, I hadn’t meant this to turn into a defensive diatribe about work. I think that what I realized from looking back was that I have made progress from 2 years ago, even if I don’t feel it happening. I’m a more confident mother, doctor, and person, and I think I’m enjoying it all more. Hooray for round 2!