30 Days of Blogging, Day 7

The word of the day is Freedom.

The freedom I’m talking about today isn’t anything extraordinary for an able bodied person – it is the freedom to move about my own home how and when I please. Freedom to take the garbage out, go to the bathroom, shower, move from one room to the next at my leisure. But I have a toddler, and thus, I don’t have this freedom.

Does anyone else have a toddler who clings to your legs and tries to climb you, red faced and screaming, when you do something so bold as to try walking into another room without them? When I’m holding my toddler and I say any of the following phrases, she clings to me like a spider monkey with a death grip:

I just have to go and…

I’m going to put you down for a second…

Can I just…

I’ll be right back…

I have to heat up the car before we leave for daycare in the mornings, and when I peel her off of me and walk out the front door she sounds like she is experiencing the worst heartache of her young life. Every time.

Doing the dishes and cooking dinner is a constant battle to keep her happy on the floor. I just can’t do these tasks while holding a 30 pound kid anymore.

I deal with this separation anxiety as the internet has told me to – with calmness, briefness, and always keeping my promise about coming back. But I think the only real solution is time. I know she’s securely attached, because she is completely happy to be left with people she trusts (her Mo, grandma, daycare provider), and her reaction to me when I return is a healthy amount of happiness (“You’re back! Let me tell you in baby gibberish about all the fun I had while you were gone!“) The problem is  not about me leaving her with other people, it’s about the anticipation of separating from me. 

If you can relate to how oppressive this can feel as a parent, please vent with me in the comments! It’s always nice to feel less alone.

 

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30 Days of Blogging, Day 5

I’m 99% sure that our recent sleep issues are due to the 18 month sleep regression. I know Avery’s only 16 (and a half) months, but she’s exhibiting all the signs. Her language is on the cusp of exploding, she’s got separation anxiety, and she just seems to be maturing into her terrible two’s right before our eyes  😛. 

As for the language boom, she says dozens of half words, like ca(t), mou(se), be(d) and ba(th). She’s also starting to sound out head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyes, ears, mouth, and nose (and elbow, belly button, and hair), while pointing to all of them (on herself, on us, on the cats, on dolls…). She has blurted out a few full words without the pressure of being put on the spot and questioned (like toys, elbow, and water). She does sound effects for dogs, cows, trucks, and squirrels (squeak!).  She has even tried to make the elephant noise.

All that learning has to be hard work on the brain, and it’s bound to leave her mind buzzing at night.

I’ll leave you with a random picture of her pulling my socks off today. She HATES wearing socks, and has recently started hating it when other people wear socks, too. 

Being a WAHM, PhD Mom

There are parents out there who have multiple kids in their care full time, run a business from home, and seem to get cooking/cleaning/workouts/blogging and everything else done to boot. At least I think these parents exist… Maybe social media lies. Anyway, I don’t know how those superwomen (and super-parents of other genders) do it, even if they don’t look as polished and happy doing it when the camera is off and the Instagram is logged out.

I’m struggling with full time care of my almost 6-month old while balancing one measly distance education teaching assistantship. We have started eating more Kraft Dinner and delivery pizza than healthy home cooked meals. My house is a disaster. I kid you not -and this is something I wish I was kidding about – there has been a barfed-up cat hairball on the landing of my stairs for 5 days now. 

I’m staying on top of my paid work, but I’ve resorted to plopping Avery in the bumbo in front of some YouTube kids channel for half an hour while I marked papers. I mean, I have no problem with kids watching TV (I used to love it when the TV babysat me as a kid), but I can’t help feeling bad about it. She’s not even 6 months old. 

So here I am feeling bad about myself already, and then comes the pressure to get my PhD done. I’m on a 2-semester leave of absence from dissertation work. Everyone in my life knows this, and yet people can’t seem to stop reminding me that I need to get back to it. When my baby was 1 month old my dad started asking “so how’s the PhD coming along?” My mom always asks when I’m going to be able to start working on it again with a concerned look in her eye because apparently taking a leave is a sign that I’m not serious about it anymore and might quit after all I’ve poured into it so far. My wife talks about how she can’t wait for me to start making a steady income. This is fair – being the sole wage-earner in the family would be stressful… but so is trying to balance full-time childcare with finishing this damn PhD everyone keeps reminding me about!

I’m going back to “full time” studies in the summer. I don’t want to / can’t afford to put Avery in childcare this summer when she is only 7 months old (yes, we’re spoiled in Canada, getting accustomed to a 12 month parental leave – even though that doesn’t apply to students like myself). My wife luckily works much closer to home now and has been able to be home by 5 and help with bedtime, but in the evenings I’m too haggared to do a bunch of academic reading and writing. 

While I feel shitty about myself and wonder how others manage to balance work and family, the reality is that I’m doing it. And this summer I can plop Avery in the grass to watch the birds in the garden instead of the TV and I’m sure I’ll feel better about ignoring her then. It feels like I’m failing sometimes, but the important things are getting done. That hairball can biodegrade on my floor for all I care.