jared was acting really sullen last night & it took hours, but i finally dragged it out of him: he’s stressed out about the upcoming semester & doesn’t see how he can balance his workload with the amount of baby care he currently does. he went so far as to say that he might have to consider an alternate career, because writing a dissertation & being a professor might just be too time-consuming for someone who has a child. when i suggested that he talk with some of his professors who have children about how they manage to do both, he stormed out of the room.
anyway, finally he came out with the bottom line: he wants me to do more child care. ramona is usually awake for twelve to fourteen hours a day & i am her sole caretaker for about eight hours of that. i don’t know how i’m going to do more & also still do the other things that matter to me…i guess i’m just not going to get to do those things anymore. i knew i was going to have to reshuffle my priorities & drop a few projects. i guess i am being forced to drop a lot more than i had expected.
i cried & cried & cried. i already haven’t had time to read an actual book with no pictures in it for like a month. i haven’t had time to do any exercise other than pushing ramona’s stroller in over a month. i don’t have time for writing or friends–& definitely not friends who don’t have babies. if you can’t meet me at the playground & be content chatting while i play with ramona, i just don’t have time to socialize with you. & trust me, i don’t like it any more than you do.
i’ve often thought that being a mom would be a snap if i just never did anything else. ramona is such a happy baby, & i sincerely find her goofy baby antics really amusing. a friend with an older child was recently holding forth about child care & proclaimed, “let’s face it. hanging out with a four-month-old is boring. it’s so boring, you want to rip your face off. but it does get better. when they can walk & talk, they’re more entertaining.” ramona can neither walk nor talk, but i find her very entertaining. i was worried, when i was pregnant, that the baby period would be nothing but monotonous drudgery. i enjoy it much more than i expected to. i completely understand why other people don’t like it so much, but thankfully, i don’t feel that way.
so it’s not the hanging-out-with-ramona part that i find so upsetting. i just had this sudden vision of myself at a grad school party, sitting in a corner, alone with ramona, playing peekaboo with her while everyone else is talking about their latest research trip & what fellowships they’re trying to win. i’m going to be that woman that no one wants to talk to because they assume she has nothing going on except for her kid. part of the reason i’ve been getting into sewing & making zines again has been to have some kind of productive, creative outlet, something i can talk to people about. something other than a recitation of what foods ramona has tried this week. (though, she had some lox last week & i was pretty excited about that. it was delicious.)
i’ll still have non-baby time when i can try to read books, sew, write, etc, but…i guess there’s going to be less of it. part of me is frustrated because when jared was explaining his schedule to me & how it just doesn’t leave enough time for him to fulfill all of his academic responsibilities, he mentioned that he loses work time every day by taking a lunch hour. a lunch hour? i don’t get a lunch hour when i’m at home looking after ramona. i have to eat on the fly because a baby doesn’t just stop screaming for an hour so you can prepare yourself a nice lunch & sit & eat it quietly without interruptions. i hate to be like, “work through your lunch hour, you can still read & eat,” because it’s nice to think that a person should have a midday hour to recharge so they can go back & do their best work after. but while he is up on campus having a relaxing, recharging lunch surrounded by people who don’t shit their pants, i’m at home trying to bolt down some peanut butter toast while ramona pulls my hair & throws my glasses across the room.
the joys of parenthood.
but we’ll see how this all plays out. we still have a week before the semester starts, & we will still have weekends. i know jared enjoys spending time with ramona & isn’t just trying to foist extra baby care off on me because he isn’t into being a dad or whatever. i know that an academic’s schedule can be really overwhelming even without a baby in the mix. i’m just suddenly being confronted (again) with being the at-home parent & how that means that my time & my activities are considered to be less important–by everyone except for me. i encouraged jared again to talk to some of his professors with kids about their time management tricks, but i suspect that most of them will say either, “my partner does all the child care,” or, “we have a nanny,” or something else that either puts me in a position of servitude or is a complete financial impossibility. we can’t even afford a sitter for a once-a-month date night.
also, can i complain about one more thing? jared was saying that it would be helpful if he could work from home every once in a while & save himself the commuting time. i said that’s fine, as long as he is cognizant of ramona’s naps & limits his traipsing through the room when i’m trying to get her to sleep. he said, “so i just have to shut myself in the library & never leave?” did i say that? i intentionally came up with the reorganization of the house so that he COULD have a room to shut himself in if he wanted to work from home, where he wouldn’t be interrupted. & he’s treating it like a jail cell.
i feel like the house is MY workplace. it’s where i do the work of taking care of our baby full-time. so if he wants to do his work here too sometimes, he needs to not get in my way, & i have accommodated him by giving him an entire private room to do that. he’s free to leave to get food or use the bathroom or whatever. all i’m saying is that i don’t want him sprawling out in one of my main baby work zones. is that so unreasonable? i mean, ramona LOVES jared. when he came home from school yesterday, i was feeding her, & she was so excited to see him that she started grinning & milk spilled all over her face & she practically threw herself off the couch to get to him. it’s very sweet, but i can’t deal with that for nine straight hours while he’s working from home.