This post was pulled from the archives. And by “archives,” I mean I found it on the desktop of my computer from about 16 months ago when I was in the throes of life with newborn twins. I can’t remember if my hope was to start a blog right then and there or to just get my thoughts down on paper and feel somewhat human again. Most likely I had no idea what I was thinking.
Reading this now, I can feel the anxiety and loneliness of maternity leave. The nerves that crept in when my husband left for work or a family member said they couldn’t come over that day have dissipated, yet are still palpable.
The days when it was just me and two babies. Two babies I loved, but feared. Two babies I knew were a part of me in a way no other human being ever will be, but to whom I felt little connection. Two babies who waited patiently (albeit not always quietly) for the mom in me to emerge.
And when did she arrive? The me who now had a 20% confidence level in being a mother instead of a 2%? Around the last day of maternity leave of course! Just as it was time to return to work, I felt the emotional roller coaster of first-time parenting start to level off. Not that it isn’t still an extremely wild and bumpy ride full of complete cluelessness, but I have accepted that. And that acceptance is something I wasn’t able to do in the early days.
So back to the post. I know many mothers (and fathers) have started or continued writing while in the midst of new parenthood. I kiss their feet. I just didn’t have it in me until recently. But I left the article pretty much how I wrote it 16 months ago, with only some minor editing to clean it up. I felt I owed that to my sleep-deprived self.
What I learned on Maternity Leave, Part 1 (Do you see that? I called it Part 1. I was going to have a — wait for it — SERIES! I was so cute.)
- One word: HGTV. Okay, that isn’t an actual word, but how did maternity leave exist before it? The first words of my twins will likely be flip or flop. But at least they will learn to contemplate deep issues such as should they love it… or list it. (2015 Editor’s note: Their first word besides “Dada” and animal sounds was actually “‘nana” for bananas, so it seems Chip and Joanna do not impress everyone.)
- Sometimes you have to change the channel. Four is the number of “Family Feud” episodes before self-loathing sets in, no matter how hilarious Steve Harvey is (which is very hilarious).
- When the TV is off, things feel more peaceful and I am more connected to the kids. I’m used to thinking that I need TV and maybe I don’t. This is a reality that my brain is not truly ready to embrace just yet. (2015 Editor’s note: I’ll always be obsessed with television. But I still don’t have it on much around the boys. It’s not a moral or research-based decision, but rather it just gets to be too much for me.)
- “Mommy’s coming” really means mommy is going to try to do three more things in the kitchen before she gets to you.
- Those who wrote that twins learn early on that they have to wait their turn were actually being sarcastic. Once I look at it from that perspective, things make a whole lot more sense.
- Baby coos and babble are adorable, but the sweetest sound of the day is that garage door opening.
- Babies miraculously get quiet and angelic before the garage door opens and daddy walks in the door.
- Escalation of daddy texts: “Hey, are you leaving soon?” “Have you left YET?” “You better be ON THE WAY home.” “TELL ME YOU ARE OUTSIDE!”
- My standard for what I will wear in public has never been so low. I’m not wasting any of the precious time between feedings on things like brushing my hair or changing out of spit-up/pee-covered yoga pants. I do always make it a point to brush my teeth. In the words of “House Hunters,” it is one of my “must-haves” to get through the day.
- This is much tougher than the job I am on leave from, but I love it.