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Slow. Down.

7 May 2013

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It is the beginning of the end of a busy Monday.

I still have lots to do. Lots to write and design and Photoshop.

Meatball is getting cranky, because it’s about time for his pre-bedtime nap. He usually sleeps from about 8 to 10 PM, wakes up for a fresh diaper and a snack, and reminds us that it’s bedtime. Sometimes 8:30. Occasionally he puts it off until 9.

We diaper. We read a book. We rock. He sleeps. Successfully transferred to the crib, it is now Mommy time for a couple of hours.

Or twenty minutes.

We rock. He sleeps. He wakes up in the crib. I leave him in the crib until he becomes unhappy about it, but now we’re creeping past 9 PM. Mommy time is evaporating. We walk around the house closing blinds and testing faucets and inspecting ceiling fans, but my mind is racing – because it’s been racing most of the day – from one project to the next, from one To Do list to another. 

Because there are lots. There’s the work list, the home list, the Husband’s art list. There are projects that involve job-hunting, and drywall-priming, and yard work, and … other things that are a secret right now. There are two busy weekends coming up, and the headache that is catching up with me since I woke up from not sleeping last night is not being soothed by a fussy, tired baby.

He’s content touring the house, so I try to sit down – which I know isn’t going to be okay, because it’s never okay, and it’s not okay. And he twists his little body toward mine, and grabs at my shirt, and I know that if he nurses right now we will restore peace to the house, but I hesitate.

I hesitate because I know he isn’t hungry already, and because I remember what I’ve been reading about babies and sleep. About how he needs to be able to fall asleep without nursing. And about how I should lay him down drowsy, but awake, so he’ll learn to let himself go back to sleep – which is the key to sleeping through the night (which is the litmus test for good parenting).

And then I stop caring, and I unclip one side of the nursing bra, and peace is restored. I close my eyes and sink into the deep throbbing behind my temples, remember my tea getting cold on the table, and slouch in the living room chair.

After a moment, I remember that I’m supposed to be finding beauty. As I open my eyes to look down at my little man, I remember what I’ve read about breastfeeding – about bonding and oxytocin – and I decide that if, after a very busy day, he just wants to be close to me, that’s okay.

I watch his chubby fingers gently knead the skin on my chest, and I breathe deeply.

I’ve had cold tea before. I’ve even survived my share of headaches, and this one will pass, I am sure, only slightly more quickly than the days when I can hold my little Meatball across my lap like this.

So I take another deep breath, and let the projects and the lists fall away. He falls asleep, and I take us both to bed.

Maybe we’re doing this baby-sleep thing all wrong. Maybe he’ll be difficult to transition into his crib in a few months. I don’t know, and in this moment – as I cradle him in one arm while I pull back bedsheets with the other, on a quiet Monday evening – I don’t care. I need him right here – to keep me sane, to keep me focused, to slow me down.

It can feel like a weight sometimes – this Mommy thing, slowing me down and keeping me away from other things – but really, that’s what an anchor is.

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