I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to treasure every moment because it all goes so fast and before you know it they’re all grown up. In truth, I have been treasuring every moment — even the day when Natalie, possessed by either a growth spurt, a bout of reflux, or a vampire demon, decided to nurse once an hour for fifteen minutes, every hour, for the entire day. (I can’t complain too much about any of her off days this past month, though, since she has been a champion sleeper almost every night since she was born.)
But it doesn’t seem to be going very fast at all. Perhaps because Natalie sleeps so well as a general rule, we do too, so we’ve more or less escaped the fog-of-war that so often afflicts new parents. And because she nurses so often, she and I haven’t been going out much. & has done better at resuming regularly-scheduled life plans: he’s returned to work, regularly goes to the gym, and has even taken several long bike rides when it was unseasonably nice out. I, meanwhile, have been more or less confined to my burrow, for what seems like a very long month.
It hasn’t bothered me, except in the abstract. I am not troubled by a life lived in pajamas, unshowered, napping and/or rocking an incessantly nursing baby while reading Pride and Prejudice on my new Nook. But this lifestyle, so appropriate in the days after Natalie’s birth, is starting to feel a bit sketchy and slackerish. My baby is a month old. I should be back on my feet by now, an old pro at bundling Natalie into the Moby and dashing off to Mommy and Me Pilates. Or maybe Whole Foods. Or at least down to the lobby to retrieve the mail.
Instead, maternity leave is turning into the most indolent staycation I’ve ever taken. It feels like I do nothing but nurse, nap, loaf, and love it. Which presents me with a fairly standard Type A dilemma: vacation guilt (downtime is for the weak!), or the sense that I’m failing to Treasure Every Moment by embracing a potentially premature return among the living. Maybe it’s time for me to get up off my duff and resume Stuff, Comma, Doing Of. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe I don’t need to go out just yet. Maybe a month isn’t that long. Or two. Or three.
So I’m starting small. Tomorrow I have set two ambitious goals. One will be to take a shower: ambitious only since & will be at the office and there will be no one but me to watch Natalie. I plan to park her in her bouncy seat outside the shower door, where I can keep an eye on her through the wet glass. Maybe she’ll sleep. More likely she’ll probably cry the whole time. I’ll work it out somehow.
The other goal is to go out, by myself, tomorrow evening, to attend my first rehearsal since the Mahler crew bowed at Carnegie Hall. Natalie’s daddy can fly solo for three hours. I’ve pumped some milk in case she gets hungry, and he’s the best on earth at soothing her to sleep. Meanwhile, the Cathedral Choral Society is doing an all-Beethoven winter concert, and singing at my beloved cathedral is one small step out of the nest that I think I’m ready to take.
But I also reserve the right, should I find myself stricken with separation anxiety, to turn right around and go back home to my baby. Who, after all, is only one month old.