My mom and brother came to visit last week. It was so great having them both here, for many reasons, but one thing stands out.
On Wednesday, we drove to Dresher, PA, to surprise my grandmother (Honey!) for her 95th birthday. It was a really nice day, and when we got back to our apartment, we bathed and fed Annie, walked Ellie, and then ate dinner after putting Annie to bed.
Then, around 8:30 PM, Ryan, Brian, and I went downstairs to check out our building’s golf simulator. I’ve never golfed before (I love mini golf, but I’m so bad that no one ever wants to play with me — how sad!), but my brother loves golfing and brought some clubs, so we grabbed some wine and hit the virtual links. I was awful, and for every 40 swings I hit the ball once. I was really bad. So bad. But it was so fun, and we laughed a lot, and it’s rare my brother and I get to hang out without the mini humans around (LOVE THEM, THOUGH), so this felt like a treat.
We came back upstairs (my mom stayed in the apartment with Annie and Ellie, don’t you worry), and I felt awesome. Even though I had just swung a club so hard and so wrong that I broke my shoulder, and even though I only hit the ball six times in total and the computer forced me to “move on to the next hole” every time, I was so happy.
I sat down on the couch with my mom and wondered why I was so excited over such a tiny, 30-minute-max adventure.
And then I realized: I had left the confines of my immediate apartment after 7 PM. I’d had a stress-free outing that didn’t revolve around working or baby things or mom things. I had adult conversations about adult things. I wasn’t checking the baby monitor every few seconds. I didn’t have the faint sound of white noise from the nursery buzzing in my ears. I went “out,” my baby was taken care of (for free! by someone I trust!), and I felt relaxed.
Perhaps not the ultimate revelation, but it felt pretty monumental to me, and that feeling has stuck with me.
Now, before we get all TMI levels of honesty here, let me preface this post by saying that things are really good right now. Annie is at a great, super fun age. The warmer weather means we’ve been able to go on more hiking and swimming adventures with Ellie, which means she’s been happy. Work is good. My health kinda sucks (Crohn’s flare; more on that another time, blah), but I’m rolling with it. I’m cooking dinner most nights. I love our nanny (she’s with us part-time; four days a week for the first half of the day). And I’m very grateful for all the good in my life.
At eight months postpartum, I have found my confidence as a mom. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve accepted that I never will. I’ll always find something new to question, to second-guess, to Google. We’re in a good routine and a good groove, and even though I know it’ll probably change soon, I’m enjoying where we’re at.
But if I’m being honest…
I miss my friends.
I feel trapped inside after 7 PM.
Annie goes to bed at 7, and it’s nice having those evening hours to do stuff I need or want to do, like cook dinner, clean up from the day, record and edit podcasts, or do other work. But with Annie asleep and Brian often not home until late (or at all if he’s traveling), it means that after 7 PM, I’m in — and usually alone — for the night. It means missing out on the summer concerts that happen right outside our door every Thursday, not taking advantage of the sunsets along the waterfront, and missing birthday parties, happy hours, and other after-hours activities that make summer especially delightful. I’m working on finding some local babysitters who can hang here when I’m really craving an outing, but right now I’m finding it hard to justify paying someone so I can go for a walk or sit outside and read a book.
I’m really jealous of people who have family close by. I know we’re lucky to even have family, and to at least be in the same general region. But my parents are a five-hour-or-more drive, and Brian’s mom is a three-ish hour drive. I really envy people who are able to have weekly dinners with their kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I wish that, when I felt lonely, my mom could come over and watch Big Little Lies with me, or watch Annie while Brian and I went out to dinner. (I always miss my mom, in particular, but I am especially craving her company since having Annie.)
I’m working really hard and I’m really genuinely happy, but something is missing, and I think that something is adult human interaction. It’s why instead of going for a solo run most days, I go to Orangetheory. It’s a little less convenient and sucks more time out of my day, but I get to see people, and that fuels me.
It’s also why I Insta Story a lot. Maybe too much!
I don’t want to lose my identity. It’s been easy to let motherhood consume me, but I’m craving conversations about things other than nap schedules and eating solids and “is this normal?” I need and value those conversations, but I hope I remember how to talk about other things without it always leading back to mom things or baby things.
I miss my husband. We haven’t taken a true vacation in nearly four years — since our honeymoon. (We did go to Paris for our first anniversary, but I was so sick that, unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a bust.) I’d love to find a way to get away with him for a little while.
I made a list of Things I Want To Do. These aren’t to-do list things. They aren’t work-related or Annie-related. They’re things I want (or need) to do for myself. There are treat-myself things on there, like “get a pedicure,” “get a facial” (I’ve had one in my life and kind of want to do it again), and “relax and read a book.” (I’ve been trying to read more, but it’s a page or two here and there when I get a chance throughout the day. And usually the books are work-related, not fun fiction reads. I want to just sit under a blanket, wearing cozy socks and a sweatshirt and no bra, and just read something fun and intriguing. I’ll probably fall asleep, but still. Imagine!) Then there are things on the list that are important and overdue: annual (overdue) skin check at the dermatologist, embarrassingly overdue dental cleaning, get marriage license because I’m still not sure whether Brian and I are actually married… And all these things should be high priority, but I can’t justify using childcare hours for anything other than doing my job right now, and they aren’t things I want to do with Annie in tow. I’m not complaining — just assessing. The weekends are when Brian is usually around, so I want to spend that time with him and our whole family, not off running boring errands and getting my moles checked. (Any advice here? Lay it on me! I know I probably just need to make a sacrifice somewhere if I want some “me time,” but any other secrets to success?)
Finally, if I’m being honest…
Yes, things are good. Yes, I’ve found my confidence. But I’m still dealing with some postpartum anxiety. It’s so much better now, but it’s a work in progress. I’ve learned what my triggers are — pumping was a huge one, and eliminating that around the five-month mark was life-changing for me — which is helpful, and I’m trying to get better at communicating my often high-strung feelings with the people closest to me so they’re aware.
I met with a potential babysitter yesterday, who is available to do the occasional afternoons, evenings, date nights, or Mondays (I currently have no childcare on Mondays). She was really lovely, and Annie adored her. The next step, of course, is actually committing and getting some days on the calendar — whether it’s to get work done or sit outside and read a book — and taking a bit of action. And not feeling guilty for doing that.
And figuring out, once and for all, how to get that damn marriage license.