momming all the time

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.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

4 thoughts on “momming all the time

  1. *head shake* I’m really bummed for you. I have been living vicariously through your shared parenting situation. My partner works a really physical job and anywhere between 10-12 hrs/day 6 or 7 days/week. I have been doing about 98% of the childcare since the baby was born. And we have been having the stupid division/devaluing of labour fight regularly ever since. It’s fucking HARD staying home and momming full time.

    I keep explaining that yes, while he works very hard and very long hours, eventually he gets to come home from work. I don’t get to “come home” from parenting – y’know?

    I have a good rhythm to my days/nights now but it’s really hard work. I gave up a few things i thought i really wanted to do parenting-wise (cloth diapers namely), but it has given me the ability to do other things that i’m stoked to have been able to do (breastfeeding).

    I don’t drive, and am just starting to get out and about daily with the baby and dog and have some semblance of a normal-ish life.

    It feels so frustratingly trite to have the labour fight. I really want us to be more evolved than that, but here we are….

    I empathise with your transition to more intensive momming. I loooove doing it, but i also live for naptime 🙂 I don’t find a lot of opportunities to do projects, then again, i squander what little time i have bathing and watching crappy serial tv drama… Sometimes, it’s more important to devote naptime to a good book than a clean kitchen. Priorities!

    You’ll rock it. Enjoying your kid is the first step to success. I promise.

    1. i talked to some of the moms at playgroup about it & i feel much better. jared was being kind of a petulant jerk about the whole thing at first, but i know he was just really stressed out about school. & since the division of labor has been one of our primary fights ever since ramona was born (which is probably true for all new parents), i know he was also anxious about bringing it up with me & potentially sparking yet another argument.

      but talking to those other moms…their partners were doing things like calling from work & saying, “hey, there’s this movie i really want to see, so is it cool if i go watch it before i come home?” or organized four-day hunting trips with their buddies without clearing it with their wives first. one mom said she had arranged for her partner to do bathtime as his primary dad job before their baby was born. their kid is a year old now & still only being bathed twice a week because the dad doesn’t want to add to his baby workload. when i mentioned that jared cooks dinner every night, jaws all over the playground dropped. apparently i am slightly out of touch with the reality of what a helpful partner he is.

      but that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful trying to divide labor with an academic. obviously when your partner works a physically demanding full-time job, that’s a struggle. but the fact that jared doesn’t have set hours, & that his workload could conceivably spread to fill every available waking hour, & that it has in the past, & that keeping things under control is contingent upon his own time management skills, is all another kind of stress.

      i’m not looking forward to taking over baby duty earlier in the morning & possibly having to start scrambling to fit in my morning pumping-&-breakfast time in between diapers & bottles (jared usually has her in the mornings now so i can take care of that stuff on my own time), but as long as he keeps doing bedtime & night wakes for as long as i am pumping, i’ll be all right. i probably won’t have as much time for sewing or writing. i’ll probably start doing more “benign neglect” in the form of stealing some mommy reading time while ramona is playing with a toy. i just can’t be “on” & engaged with her for ten hours straight or whatever. i always feel kind of bad when i’m not playing with her or watching her or reading to her, because she’s not going to be little like this forever, but i need to preserve my own sanity & sense of self too. & it’s not like it’s bad for her to learn how to entertain herself. or really, continue to entertain herself, because she’s pretty good at it already. give her a copy of “goodnight gorilla” & she will gnaw on it happily for at least 20 minutes. (word on the playground is that ramona chews on books far more frequently than the average baby. to the point that jared is worried about taking board books out of the library for her,m lest she gnaw them into a pulp.)

  2. I’m sorry this is happening. I’m not a mom and have no real frame of reference for how challenging this must be. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know. I’m always down for writing dates and ballooning over Skype with Ramona Balogna. And, I really wish you lived closer so you could take your little bundle of backwards crawling off your hands while you got writing or whatever done.

    1. eh, it’s okay. i knew i was going to have to scale back on some stuff–for my own sanity if nothing else. & i knew the amount of baby care jared has been doing was going to be unrealistic once school started again. it’s just a change to the routine i’ve become accustomed to, & i don’t always do so well with change. but in reality, the anticipation of what it will be like is undoubtedly worse than the reality. i mean, boo hoo, i have to hang out with my super-cute baby an extra couple of hours a day?

      but i will say…i don’t know exactly what i “expected” being a mom to be like. i really don’t think i had a ton of expectations. but ramona is almost nine months old & i’m still adjusting to the fact that having a baby means that you basically just took your previous, non-baby life & set fire to it. nothing is the same anymore. it’s unfathomable to me to try to remember what i used to do to pass an average day. when people tell me they’re pregnant, i think three things: 1) “yay!” 2) “i will make them a quilt!” 3) “these poor bastards have no fucking clue what they’re in for.”

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