Here I am almost three months into baby Fiona's life.
So far, I've managed to keep my freelance writing and editing business running, pay all of my monthly expenses (including daughter #1's daycare tuition) and maintain my sanity (more or less, depending who you ask).
But, there are days when Fiona wakes up and starts to cry...at the exact same moment I'm about to pick up the phone to dial a client for a conference call. When I quickly pop her into the swing, turn it on, and pray that the movement lulls her back to sleep...at least for 20 minutes. And then I make my call, struggling to keep that sleep-deprived fogginess at bay long enough to comprehend what's being said to me and respond in a lucid and intelligent way. On these days I start to feel a bit guilty...and a bit crazy. Am I am a bad mom for making my baby sleep so that I can work? Am I ignoring her too much during the day? I wonder, was I insane to not have planned better for this period in our lives so I didn't have to work when she was so new?
The thing is, I didn't really want to take an official 'mat leave.' I've been working since Willow started daycare to build up the momentum of my business so I don't have to actively seek out new work every few weeks. And with a new baby on the way, I wasn't keen on letting the momentum wane, only to have to ramp it back up again when Fiona turns one. Those who run their own businesses surely can relate. Plus, while I'm being completely honest, although I do love being a mom, it's not enough to keep me stimulated every day. I don't actually know what I'd do with myself if I were to take the whole year "off." (I know, mat leave isn't really a year off at all, in many ways it's more "on" than working in an office every day.) The days I spend at my computer are much less exhausting than the days I'm on mom duty! If I wasn't working, I know I'd spend way too much money on toys, and clothes, lunches, and coffees (which, according to my husband, I'm still managing to do anyway). I'm the kind of person who needs to be busy. Who loves to have plans. And who can't sit still for more than a few hours without going stir crazy. And while it would be nice to spend the year socializing, I would most certainly be broke by the end of it. I enjoy my work (most of the time!) and having the flexibility to work from home means I should be able to do it ALL...right?!
I'm trying anyway...
I'm trying to keep my business running smoothly: to challenge myself and take on assignments that require me to stretch my mind (mommy brain be damned!) and to balance my more permanent clients with new business opportunities.
I'm trying to get enough sleep at night so that I can sit down at my computer for a few hours a day without falling asleep on my keyboard.
At the same time I'm working to give baby Fiona a good start in life. I'm trying to spend enough time staring into her beautiful brown eyes, listening to her coo, mirroring her adorable smile, and helping her reach new milestones every day.
I'm also trying to keep up my social life. To spend time with friends who are on mat leave (to commiserate about life with a new baby and a toddler), to keep in touch with friends who live in other cities, and to schedule play dates for ME.
I'm also committed to enjoying the sunny days (when we have them). To get outside in nature and get enough exercise that I'll eventually be able to fit into my pre-baby wardrobe.
And then there is the pile of books on my nightstand that I really want to read. A few parenting books (that I hope will make life with a toddler easier) and some novels, all bought with the anticipation of having more time to read once Fiona was born (ha!).
I also have 'thank you' cards to write, a baby book for Fiona that I pledged to keep updated, groceries to buy, vacuuming to do...oh and did I mention the thousands of pounds of laundry that require washing, drying and folding every single day.
At the end of the day, I want to have something left for Willow when she comes home after a busy day at school, tired, emotional, yet somehow still full of energy. I want to be able to play with her. To enjoy her company, rather than rushing her off to bed so I can finally put my feet up.
And, I want to be able to carry on a conversation with my husband, to maintain an adult relationship despite the fact that every time we start to talk with one another, someone seems to be hungry, or thirsty, or in need of attention...NOW!
Some days all of this seems totally manageable. I can do it ALL!!!!!
Yet on others...all I want to do is climb into bed and take a nap!
More on this later...the baby's waking up.