Two hours into my first day on maternity leave, I crumbled like a square of blue cheese. I'm so not made to be a real 24/7 mother. Stellar since Baby #2 is ready to claw her way out in less than a month.
But really, I woke up the other day and I still don't think of myself as a mother. Or even a mom. It's like this episode of The Apprentice I watched years ago when it was a really good show. The teams were doing a Tide commercial or something and the executive from Tide was telling them not to think of their target audience as "moms, but as women with children."
It sounded absurd, but now it makes complete sense. You have to earn your stripes to be considered a mom and you certainly need to be on the job for more than a couple years to qualify as a bonafide mother. Plus, some of us may never earn that title. My mom is a mom. She's a gold medalist in the mother event of the Life Olympics. I am barely hanging on, hoping I get a "participant" ribbon.
8:15AM: Emmy wakes up and wanders into my room. I take her through the morning routine of peeing and teethbrushing and we're off to the races.
8:30AM: Breakfast of strawberry Eggos, chicken apple sausage, and banana slices is on the table. We munch together quietly, discussing the latest news out of the Arab world and how the GOP is quickly narrowing the pack.
9AM: Bundle her up and take the dogs out for a long walk.
9:30AM: Return home and realize it's only 9:30 AM. Call The Good Doctor to say I surrender to full time moms. What am I supposed to do for the next 11.5 hours until she goes to bed?!?!?!?!?
9:40AM: Come up with the idea we should have a picnic lunch to get out of the house.
9:45AM: Light a fire in our house because it's 61 degrees inside. Greatest landlord ever. Most poorly insulated home ever. Emmy decides to do some watercolors and marker drawings. I write some work emails for last minute things.
10AM: I'm summoned to "paint with me Mommy. It's play time. PLAY ALL DAY!" That's Emmy's new phrase. Whenever you ask her what she wants to do, she says, "PLAY ALL DAY!"
10:30AM: I look at the clock and want to hot poker my eyes because it's 10:30AM. Picnic doesn't start for another hour. Cheered up by news The Good Doctor may have a break in his day and might be able to come home for a short lunch.
11AM: I'm hungry. But I can't snack or eat because Emmy will want whatever junk food I eat and that is setting a bad example. But Babius is like a honey badger. She don't give a **** and she wants leftover veggie lasagna. NOW.
11:15AM: The Good Doctor says he will be home in 20 minutes. I give in to my hunger and microwave some lasagna. I tell Emmy the good news, "Daddy will be home soon to have lunch with us!" I pray she forgets about my promise of a picnic.
11:20AM: She's eating a peanut butter and jelly on wheat while I scarf down lasagna. The Good Doctor will have to eat on his own.
11:40AM: Emmy's done with pb&j, and is finishing off some Ritz crackers when The Good Doctor comes home. I say, "It's only 11:40." He laughs. He knows I'm a weakling and I'm not cut out for this motherhood immersion. I say I'm going to have to take Emmy out somewhere every day to get through this. Preferably the mall. Look, I spent 85% of my life in retail therapy on my days off. I've only been a woman with child for 2.5 years. I'm still going through withdrawals and reconditioning.
The killer part of it all is that Emmy is the greatest kid ever. A little needy, yes. But for the most part it's not unreasonable for her to want me to read to her, paint with her, play with her Calico Critters, walk around the backyard looking for acorns, answer eight hundred thousand "But why Mommy?" questions about everything she observes, and play iPad games with her. She is a toddler, a smart one, and a sweet one. Which makes it even more annoying that I'm so bad at hanging out with her. I just feel so incompetent. Like, I don't come up with hilarious and creative games to entertain her. I have to think really hard about how to converse with her so that I can mentally engage her brain and problem solving skills. I am not a natural at this in any way, shape, or form. I'm OK in small doses but the chinks in my armor really start to show when I'm tasked with caring for my own daughter for an entire day. I am lame.
12:15PM: The Good Doctor gets a call and has to return to work. He won't be home until at least 2 or 3AM. There goes that brief respite.
12:30PM: Emmy busies herself by playing with her Calico Critters playhouse for 15 minutes. She is a marvel to watch. She makes up little conversations and does all sorts of pretend play. I love watching her when she's doing her own thing.
12:45PM: She sits down to drink her afternoon milk while watching TV. She does this twice a day and it's the only way we can get her to drink milk. It's also a half hour to check my pulse email.
1:30PM: We hop in the car to go to the "big park." It is still freezing outside but there's a ton of kids at the playground. We kill an hour.
The rest of the day includes a string cheese and cherry snack break and black bean nachos with olives and tomatoes and guacamole for dinner. She's eating like a champ, so maybe we're in a growth spurt. We play a few iPad games, go through some insect flash cards, read more books. While I fit in some laundry and dishes, Emmy does her own thing, which usually involves playing with her animals while saying, "Mommy. Mommy? Mommy!" Not because she urgently needs help, but because she just likes to call out my name to make sure I'm still here. I am. Oh yes darling. Like it or not, this Woman With Child is going to be here, day in and day out, FOREVER trying to earn my mom stripes.
Long story short, I have no idea how Asian Grandma does this 5 days a week and makes dinner every night too. And appears to be happy.