insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen, working mother

September sneaks up on you

Last year around this time I noted that it was silly to plan a wedding at the end of August when you’re an academic administrator. This year I would like to note that I was much more reasonable, and planned to be home over our anniversary weekend/the first week of classes. Except we went camping last weekend, and Gwyn got sick with her first fever and head cold immediately upon returning home, and so we’re still unpacking from camping and there’s miscellaneous crap strewn about our entire house (and garage, and cars). And did I mention Gwyn got sick? So she couldn’t sleep because she couldn’t breathe, so that meant we couldn’t sleep… and then both Justin and I got sick, because he has the immune system of an angry mouse, and I’m so bloody exhausted my immune system is hiding in a corner yelling things at angry mice.

So this week was kind of a bust. And there’s a lot I intended to do. Things like “my job” and “housekeeping” and “general personal hygiene”. (Taking a shower with a congested baby is not actually taking a shower, for the record. It gets you wet, but you don’t feel clean.) I successfully ran a 4-hour staff retreat in the middle of the sleepless week, and prepared for a pitch meeting for a big idea project, and generally tried to not fail at being Librarian Queen, but I was holding on by my fingernails, and I took a pile of sick leave anyway. And at home, I just wanted to be me, at home, doing the things I do at home. I was going to do my weekly weekend cook-a-thon. I did manage to get my hair cut and go to the grocery store in preparation for cook-a-thon, but then we ordered Chinese takeout last night because cooking a steak and some vegetables seemed like too much work. (We ate the steaks tonight.) Mostly I spent the last 10 days wishing I could sleep, playing video games with one hand while tending the sad baby, and … I don’t even know. Breathing. One after the other.

But then it was Labor Day. And the first day of classes. So not really Labor Day. Except Justin and I had the brilliant idea that since Gwyneth missed daycare last week due to fever, and  neither of us got anything done because exhausted, sick, and tending to the sad baby, we should see if they could take her extra days this week and Justin could recoup some of the work time he lost. So at 8, she went to school and we, the grownups, DID NOT. He went back to sleep, and I had a “no responsibilities” brain break. Totally worth the $47.

However, because nothing is ever clean and easy around here, I woke up with stage two of this virus from hell, a sore throat — like someone was attacking me with burning sticks every time I swallowed — and so like a sane person who cares about her own well-being, I asked a colleague to please handle the hour of open house talking I was scheduled to do today (because cheerfully greeting graduate students and delivering three talks when you have metaphorical burning sticks in your throat sounds like misery), and instead worked from home this morning to really great effect. I got a pile of work done from 7 to 9:30, I soothed my sore throat, and I went to the office at 10. When I did, I wore jeans. MY JEANS. My pre-pregnancy jeans. Because they fit now. Which is amazing, and made me feel like I’m really me again, for the first time in a very long time. Jeans and a boatneck tshirt and cute shoes? Yes. That is who I am. Finally. Again. Me.

And, because it’s the first day of classes? Hey, guess what? The printers were down! First day of classes! Yay!

I had lunch with Gwyn at noon, and she was okay… not awesome, but okay. They had 6 babies today, and three caregivers, and she was overtired (see the aforementioned sick and exhausted and sad baby), and she was overstimulated (see 6 babies). But they are lovely people and she will adapt. Part of adapting is that she doesn’t want to eat while she’s there. She’s distracted, she’s uneasy, she’s tired, whatever — she, apparently, was eating a few ounces and falling asleep when they fed her. So I nursed her at noon, but given my supply, that’s probably a few ounces at best. Then I came home, and, magical!, I took a nap for 2 hours, with no concerns that Gwyn would wake up, Justin would need my help with her, or anything. And then I worked more, until Justin brought Gwyn home.

When she got home, man, she was starving. And after the first two ounces, a bottle was unacceptable. What was acceptable was a full ounce (two or three tablespoons) of sweet potato, and an ounce (another tablespoon and a half, or so) of oatmeal cereal made with formula. Om nom nom nom. She ate everything, plus half a roasted carrot stick (because if you give her finger food to play with she’s far less likely to steal the bowl and spoon). And then she drank her bottle. And then she nursed. And then another half a bottle. And then our first attempt at bedtime. And then another half a bottle. And then finally passed out. So we’re going to have to find a way to cope with this no-eat-at-daycare thing… which may just be feeding her a solid food breakfast before daycare, and solid food dinner when she comes home. We’ll see how she does this week.

And so now she’s asleep, at 9:30, and I’m trying to do all the things I was gonna do when she went to bed at 8… just faster, and a little more blearily. Bathroom garbage needs to be emptied. Clean up mess after dinner, put away leftovers. Check catfood. Fold diapers. Start a new load of laundry. Fill out G’s passport application. Read some stuff for work (HA! NO!). Or… sit down and chronicle a tiny piece of our life before I lose it to the blur of blurriness.

In short, we’re all exhausted. Somehow, summer is over, and it’s now September, and I don’t know when that happened. Hell week got the better of me again, even though I tried much harder to be a smart academic administrator this time around. Baby fevers can sukkit, and my kid is pretty cool, even when she’s sad. I suspect this is my new status quo. I’m adapting.

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