While we’re finally getting to hear and see more #realtalk about motherhood these days, it’s still a bit taboo to talk about all the boring, gross, or just the everyday realities of what it’s like being a mom.
Movies would give you the idea that being a mom is stressful, sure, but that it’s mostly rocking your quiet baby to sleep and dressing them up in adorable outfits for leisure stroller walks. It makes you think you’ll still have the time to do everything that you once did before (like long runs and mani-pedis). You think you’ll still wake up early to work out; still have time to shower and shave your legs, do your hair and put on a full face of makeup before running errands or meeting friends for lunch.
Hard stop: This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being a mom is a full time job. It changes everything. It is the most wonderful job in the world, but it is also the most challenging. I knew being a mom would bring upon new challenges, I just couldn’t really grasp what kind of challenges or that there would be so many.
My first little girl, Lucia Antonia is 10 months old, and she’s the best gift I could ever ask for, but make no mistake, she’s a lot of work. To give you a sense of what I mean, I’ll take you through my day.
8:32 a.m.: We manage to sleep an hour past Daddy’s alarm for work. This is helpful since somebody woke me up three times last night because she kept losing her pacifier. For now, we are all co-sleeping, and I haven’t slept more than four or five hours straight in a loooong time, as in months. Lucia wakes me up by swinging her arm in my face. I wake up with a foot in my mouth or when she is struggling to sleep, we alllllllll struggle to sleep. But for now, It works for my husband and I and Lucia, and I love looking at my sweet girl cuddled close to my face.
I take Lucia to the bathroom for her first diaper change of the day.
8:40 a.m: I bring Lucia to the living room and set her up in her clamshell-shaped vibrating swing. It’s her favorite, at the moment. Most of the time, she wakes up happy and we get started with our day. When I’m still so tired, her smiling face makes everything better. If she wakes up cranky and crying, let’s just say, I mimic her sentiments. I realized early on that how she starts her day, greatly impacts how I start my own.
8:41 a.m.: I go to the other room to wash my face and brush my teeth, but after a minute, Lucia signals me that she is ready for her bottle. It can be very difficult to find just a few minutes to myself to do small necessary things. I had been breastfeeding Lucia for three and a half months when she (not me) decided she had had enough. I was very sad not getting to breastfeed for the full six months I had planned, but she’s a baby and my boss, so I had to follow her rules. For now, we’re on formula and baby food. (Related: Serena Williams Opens Up About Her Difficult Decision to Stop Breastfeeding)
9:40 a.m.: Nature’s calling, but a highly personal kind, if you know what I mean. I rush to the bathroom, leaving Lucia safely in her high chair. I leave the bathroom door open. Once you are a mom, you get used to leaving the bathroom door open under any circumstances. It doesn’t matter if you’re peeing, pooping, shaving your legs or brushing your teeth. I hear Lucia getting a little fussy wondering where I went, but instead of rushing, I remind myself that she’s safe and literally right outside the door. It’s okay for her to fuss for a minute. Since my pregnancy and my unplanned c-section, going to the bathroom has been more challenging and I sometimes need the assistance of laxatives to make it more comfortable, so rushing this current situation is not an option. Still, hearing her cry while I’m trying to go to the bathroom, I feel helpless. No one is home, so I begin to cry.
11:35 a.m.: Lucia and I head upstairs so I can get some chores done—the dishes need to be washed, the laundry folded, and dinner prepared. Lucia has been sitting calmly in her high chair, and I’ve actually managed to pull together everything for dinner without a glitch. On the menu: grilled chicken, green bean salad, and roasted broccoli.
I actually lost the bulk of my pregnancy weight (around 16 pounds) in my first two months of motherhood because I barely found time to eat, which left me with a headache, feeling cranky and hungry without energy when I *really* needed it. It’s so easy to forget about yourself when you’re at home with your baby instead of back to work with duties and deadlines there to distract you. All in all, a meal prepped dinner is a big win for me! (Related: Science Says Having a Baby Tanks Your Self-Esteem for 3 Whole Years)
12:00 p.m.: Lucia starts getting fussy in her high chair—a sign that she has had enough of her cereal with vegetables. I take her downstairs for a diaper change and a little playtime on the bed. Lucia’s smile makes my heart melt as she reaches her hand toward my face. I’m in heaven playing on the bed with her. But after a few minutes, she starts tilting her head to the side. She’s tired. As a new mom, I was nervous about not being able to read my daughters signals, but I think I’m finally starting to figure out what she’s trying to communicate. Sometimes I get it right and other times, like when I think she’s hungry, but practically throws the bottle in my face. Guessed wrong.
12:37 p.m.: Lucia is sleeping beautifully, as in, hmmmm, I might have more than 20 minutes to myself. What shall I do with this time? I head upstairs to make myself a nice Greek salad for lunch, only to see that the sink is full of dishes from when I prepped dinner. If I don’t do them, who will? Once I clean a few dishes, I make my salad, go downstairs, and immediately get distracted by my computer and instead of eating and taking a few minutes to relax, I check my e-mail. I am bad at relaxing. I find it very hard to do. I was always like this, but now as a mom, I’m even worse. Sometimes I wish my brain had an off switch.
12:53 p.m.: I finally sit down with my lunch and put on “Pretty Little Liars.” Please don’t judge me. Netflix becomes a new mother’s best friend when you want to just enjoy a few minutes of peace without thinking about anything.
1:44 p.m.: Lucia wakes up from her nap. She was asleep for more than an hour! And you know what I did during that time besides eat and relax? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s important to just sit and clear your head to reward yourself. Yes, I could have done laundry or straighten up the house, but when Lucia is asleep is the only time I can really, truly relax, so I take it.
3:37 p.m.: Now that she’s awake, I organize the bedroom for more than an hour then lay Lucia down for another mini nap. I put her in the vibrating swing which moves back and forth at different speeds. At first, she fusses, but after a few minutes she calms down. I’m attempting a new, albeit difficult technique when trying to get her to sleep. Even if she complains, I wait it out until she eventually falls asleep. You need a lot of patience. I am seated uncomfortably on the floor near her for more than twenty minutes before she drifts off.
4:30 p.m.: I decide to try to work out, even just a little. Before becoming a mom, I always found time to work out a few times a week for at least 45 minutes. Even while I was pregnant, I managed to get on the elliptical nearly every day. Exercise was always part of my routine pre-mom. It helped me stay focused and maintain my energy. Now, I try to squeeze in mini workouts whenever I can. I hop on my stationary bike and peddle away for 15 minutes. I love how I feel after I work out. I would love to be able to work out like I used to, but I honestly would feel guilty taking that much time to myself. I used to do long, intense cardio workouts, but my time is precious with Lucia, and I just can’t bring myself to dedicate that much time to a workout. (Related: Why You Really Need to Stop Answering Emails In the Middle of the Night)
4:50 p.m.: I’m getting hungry, and I feel a headache coming. Waiting until dinner is definitely not an option. I switch on the baby monitor, put a now-awake Lucia in her high chair and go upstairs to make a snack: chopped radishes, cucumbers, and tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lucia is getting cranky and once again fighting sleep. I’m not giving up. I give her a little tea and start moving her chair back and forth to lull her. I sit there as long as I have to until she falls asleep. This method is not becoming any easier, and it takes up a good portion of my day, but I hope it will ultimately be worth it. Lucia sleeps longer and more frequently now. She finally goes to sleep after around 20 minutes and mommy goes off to enjoy her snack.
It is tough not thinking about myself the way I used to. In the past, if I needed something (food, a shower, a workout) I would simply do it. Now things are more complicated. There have been times when I am hungry and I want to eat, but so is Lucia, so she comes first. I always put her needs before mine. I’m looking forward to a day when things priorities are more flexible again.
5:23 p.m.: I decide to try to take a nap myself. The baby is sleeping, so I should try to sleep too, right? I get into bed and the second I close my eyes, I hear Lucia wake up. She is cooing sweetly. So much for sleep for mommy. I was really looking forward to a little rest. I feel disappointed that it clearly isn’t going to happen today.
7:09 p.m.: I bring Lucia upstairs and place her in her high chair next to my husband who has just come home from work and my mother who has stopped by, so we can have dinner as a family. But, Lucia has different plans. She doesn’t want to eat.
I go to start the dishes but Lucia stretches her arms out toward me, meaning she wants to play. We head downstairs and play on the bed. I lay her down and tickle her little feet and we practice her rolling technique.
All of a sudden, Lucia starts making her little baby “screams”, and I can smell it’s time for another diaper change. That was quick: Two minutes before we were playing sweetly and the next thing I know, I smell that she has made me quite a large “gift.”
8:15p.m.: Lucia is rubbing her eyes and scratching her head. Translation: “Give me food, and get me to bed!!” I place Lucia in her trusty swing again. During the first few months of having Lucia home, this swing was my lifesaver. When nothing I did could get her to sleep, this swing was the only thing that could.
8:36 p.m.: Lucia is asleep, swinging back and forth with her lullabies playing. She has had a full day of being cute, pooping, eating, and playing with mommy. It’s exhausting being a baby, but it’s maybe even more exhausting being a mom. I remind myself that just because I’m a tired mom that does not mean I’m tired of being a mom. Being a mom is a full-time job with overtime, and there are no vacations. Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, I have a slight headache. Yes, I would love a little time to myself, even just to paint my nails, but I love playing with her in bed. I love watching her discover new movements. I love feeding her. I love everything about this little girl, even if I’m a walking zombie.
8:39 p.m.: Hmm, I could be writing this article, but instead, I decide to take these last few hours of the night for myself and relax in front of the TV in my pajamas with a few biscuits and yes, more “Pretty Little Liars.” (Related: Mom Shares a Refreshingly Honest Post About Parenting With Mental Illness)
9:01 p.m.: Baby seems to be down for the night. Enough Netflix. I’m off to bed.
12:32 a.m.: Lucia wakes up searching for her pacifier. I offer her a little tea, but she is not interested and pushes it away. I give her the pacifier. It keeps popping out. I put it in again. It pops out. Lucia is getting restless. She starts crying. After more than 15 minutes of this resistance, I scoop her up and put her in bed with my husband and I. I hold her tight against me and try to get her to relax. I’m so tired, but I need to get her back to sleep, as well as myself. Another 15 minutes later, she goes back to sleep, and I try to do the same.
4:19 a.m.: Lucia wakes up crying. I can tell she is teething because she is putting her fist in her mouth and drooling a lot. I try to calm her down. I pick her up, rocking her back and forth on my chest, but she won’t stop crying. I try to give her her special teething pacifier, but she doesn’t care. She pushes it away. I try putting her down and rubbing her head and nose, which she normally loves, but she is so upset. I put her back in her swing since the rocking motion helps her sleep, but she just wails there for ten minutes. I give up and bring her back in bed with us. After another twenty minutes of crying, she finally, slowly drifts back sleep. I’m exhausted. I go to the bathroom, then grab my phone to do a little Facebook browsing in bed. Once I realize she’s finally been asleep for 15 minutes, I decide it’s safe to fall back asleep myself.
7:31 a.m.: Lucia wakes me up with a beautiful, sweet smile. We’re ready for another day of mommy and baby adventures. Yes, I want to sleep. Yes, I want to eat. Yes, I want time to read. But Lucia needs to be fed and changed and cleaned and dressed. And then she needs to do it all over again. I can do everything else…later.