Friday, March 12, 2010

"At the end of the day you're another day older..." Les Miserables

Throughout my adult life I have had a variety of work environments and schedules- from a 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM public music teacher schedule, to a 4:00 AM to 2:00 PM barista at Starbucks shedule, and every combination of freelance teaching and performing in between. But whatever the job, I always ended my day with an understanding that I had worked. One of the most difficult adjustments for me, then, has been ending my day feeling like I haven't accomplished anything. There are dirty bottles and dirty diapers and toys on the floor every evening, just like the evening before. So yesterday I became the subject of my own little sociology experiment. (warning: in my 8 years of higher education I only earned 3 C's. One of them was in sociology. But I think it was because it was an evening class.) Every hour or so I stopped and wrote down what I had been doing. So here it is. A day in the life of a stay at home parent. As a writer, I know it's a long read. As a Mommy, I know it was a long day.

7:30 AM

WhywhywhywhyWHY is Lily awake? She was up from midnight until 2:00 because she's getting a new little tooth, and even worse than the pain, her nose is all stuffy and she's having a lot of trouble breathing. I finally fell asleep sometime after 3:00, so when she was up 4 1/2 hours later I listened to her cry for a while hoping she'd fall back asleep, but eventually I gave up. So good morning Lily, and good morning Matt Lauer.

Lily was soaked through her jammies, and she clapped her hands while I changed her diaper. Thank you, I'll be here I'll week. I handed her a bottle but she didn't really want it- too tough with a stuffy nose- and I started my morning routine*: make the coffee, feed the cats, take my medication. I dropped one of my pills and never found it. Since I cut them in half, that's two-days-worth. Crap. Those are kind of expensive.

8:30 AM

Ways in which we have practiced the word "no" so far today: pulling the folded laundry out of the basket, playing with the phone charger, (she is obsessed with cords) crawling through her spit up and trying to lick it off the floor, pulling down a box of cd's, and reaching for the laundry detergent. It was way out of reach. But still. Let's not even reach for it.

9:30 AM

We moved into the nursery so Lily could play while I put some clean laundry away. The big closet is in her room, so all the clothes for the whole family go in there. It's easy to imagine the logistical problems that go with this situation.

I got her to finish her bottle by holding her in the rocking chair, and now she's down for her nap. I'm guessing it will be a long one. I checked craigslist for job listings (there was nothing for me) while I had some breakfast- peanut butter and jelly on a flour tortilla- (yeah, I know. I'm going to the store later) and I'm getting ready for Mommy Time**.

There are four Mommy Times on my daily to-do list. This is a time when I just hang, and I may not do anything else on my to-do list. Sometimes I check my facebook or chat with my sister, but today it will be a nap for sure.

There are also several "Lily Times" on my list. Both Mommy Times and Lily Times are not-so-subtle reminders that this IS what I'm doing. Spending time with my daughter and giving myself mental and emotional rest are valid uses of my time.

11:30 AM

That was a much longer nap than anticipated, but I suppose since I only got 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, I'll cut myself some slack. Lily's still sleeping- time to take advantage of that.

12:15 PM

I had just enough time to Get Dressed to the Shoes*, drag a baby wipe across my face, brush my teeth, put some make-up on, and pull my hair back in pigtails before Lily woke up. On "What Not to Wear" they would call my pigtails "I-give-up hair." I wonder if Stacy and Clinton babysit... And anyway, I think I look kinda cute.

I threw some of last night's macaroni and cheese with peas in the microwave for Lily's lunch and put her in her highchair. But it was way too hot. So I ran to the fridge and gave her some baby yogurt while the pasta cooled in the freezer. And now, it's way too cold.

Since Baby Bear's porridge is not available I decided to give it to her anyway. Baby's first pasta salad. She was eating it off of the little baby fork pretty well, (we just introduced this yesterday. Worlds easier than the spoon. An exciting development in Mommyhood.) but she kept grabbing it out of the bowl. So I dumped it out on her tray and let her have at it. Now I'm watching her pick up each little peace-sign-shaped pasta (that's right, peace and peas) with her teeny fingers and shove it into her mouth. Peace, indeed!

1:30 PM

I vacuumed the living room rug while Lily finished her lunch. I am generally not a great housekeeper- I'm working on it but I have a long way to go- but I vacuum every day. I have two cats and a baby who likes to eat cat hair.

After Lily's lunch, we had our first diaper dash of the day. Lily does not- I repeat does not- like to have her diaper changed. Or rather, she doesn't like to sit still long enough to have her diaper changed. So I took off her diaper, she crawled away, and then sat- poopy butt and all- on the rug. Fortunately Zoobamafoo distracted her long enough for me to get her cleaned off, and I put on a new diaper while she stood (yes, stood. She's a very busy girl, this was a necessary skill for me to develop) in front of the tv. I cleaned the poop off of the rug, and whew. Clean. Dry. Fed.

Since the diaper change we have been to Rite-Aid (for formula and diapers) and sat and watched Sesame Street. Lily crawled up on my lap to watch. This is new, and I can't imagine anything sweeter.

This update brought to you by the letter "N" and the number eleven.

2:30 PM

Miss Lily and I have each hit a wall. We have not had enough sleep. Silly new teeth. I gave her a bottle, rocked her, and put her in her crib. So far, so good. I wouldn't generally spend two Mommy Times napping, but wow. A few more minutes please.

3:25 PM

That was just enough rest to get me through the afternoon. Thursdays are phone call day, and on today's list- calling the adoption agency to disuss finalizing. I'm dreading this becaue I feel like I'm going to get scolded. Our finalization is taking far too long, but even things like going to NJ to get fingerprints (again) can be costly because it means a day off work for Ryan. Ugh. I am bribing myself with hot chocolate.


As anyone could have told me, that was not so bad. I now know exactly what we have to do to finalize, and I even spoke with the lawyer. Why do I avoid silly things?

I had a few minutes to straighten the damage Hurricane Lily did this morning on the living room before the screaming began. Lily was awake. So I went in her room and picked her up. Screaming continued. Maybe she was hungry. I set her down to make a bottle. Screaming ecsalated to hysteria. By the time I returned to her room with the bottle, I was entering the scene of a full-blown fit like I have never seen from this child. We're talking about a red-faced, foaming-at-the-mouth, multiple-snot-bubble, can't-breathe tantrum. She did not want her bottle. She did not want me to hold her. She mostly certainly did not want me coming at her nose with the blue turkey-baster situation. (but she really needed it, and if she was screaming anyway...) I sat with her on the floor and rubbed her back until she was calm enough to pick up, then I held her tight and sang "Hold On." And then, she was fine. Perfectly fine. It was terrible and beautiful all at the same time. And now we're playing on the floor with her little car. Beep-beep!

5:45 PM

We've been playing quietly for the past hour or so- watching Sprout and investigating our toys. We also had an apple for a snack- I hold the apple slice while Lily knaws at it- and I realized I hadn't eaten since that peanut butter and jelly burrito. I really can't eat while Lily is crawling around, so I put her in her highchair, gave her some yogurt snacks, and rolled her up to the tv while I ate the can of soup I bought at Rite-Aid. (all the while feeling guilt about using the tv and snacks as distractions.) We played peek-a-boo and throw-down-the-toy-so-mommy-can-pick-it-up while I ate, and now the baby girl is sitting in her highchair playing the piano. I just got a text from Ryan saying he just left work- he should be here in about an hour. We'll watch Sprout in the meantime. Franny's Feet is on. But I've seen this one.

6:30 PM

Daddy's here! We've been wrestling on the ground, (Lily and I. Not Daddy and I) I am barely awake, and I just need more sleep. Which is exactly what I will be doing. Right here on the couch.

8:00 PM

I just woke up- for the fourth time today- and Ryan has given Lily a bath and a bottle and she's nearly asleep on the couch. Awesome.

9;30 PM

Went to the grocery store to get some chicken legs, green beans, and bread, (no more peanut butter and jelly burritos for me). Then I did a quick Swish-and-Swipe* in the bathroom, then Ryan and I talked finances for a while. This is a regular part of our day now, and we're getting pretty good at staying calm. Today's topic: paying $120 to get our fingerprints done in the next few days to finalize the adoption before May so we don't have to pay &400 for another home visit. Total anticipated deficit for this weekend- approximately $220. Awesome.

Ryan just brought the chicken into the living room. Time to eat.

10:30 PM

I haven't moved from the couch. Our financial discussion has sent me, as usual, to craigslist, but this time there was a job that was perfect. Like, seriously perfect. So I submitted. Which takes a while when you're cutting and pasting everything on an iPhone. I'm torn between sending out an emergency message to all the prayer warriors in my life and just letting it go because I'm so frustrated. (prayer warriors? Are you there? Go ahead and give this one a shout-out for me)

Rallying to work on the house more. As soon as Marriage Ref is over.

11:35 PM

I've been going through the mail for twenty minutes. There's that much junk mail. And, ok fine, I haven't done it in a few days. (probably because the mail contains items like an electric bill for over $900. I'll call them tomorrow.) I'm easily distracted this evening- I had a long text conversation with my sister about Almond Joy Bits vs/ coconut M&M's. Then I was working on Decluttering* by collecting trash from around the house, and that's when I got distracted with the mail. Sigh. Focus, Smith.

12:45 AM

I was taking out the trash when I dropped the trash can on my foot. It really hurt. I sat on the couch and pouted for a while, and I thought about packing it in for the night. It's been a really productive day. But I've come this far, and I felt like if I took things one item at a time I could probably get a little more done.

So, I've cleaned two Hot Spots* while texting with my sister, and I'm just about ready for my bedtime routine.

Meanwhile, the jerk downstairs is playing his video games too loud- again- and Lily is whining. In her sleep? Let's hope.

1:55 AM

Hot spots: put-out. Floor: swept. Pajamas: on. Tomorrow's clothes: laid-out. Teeth: brushed. Face: washed. (and by washed, I of course mean with a baby wipe). Dishes: done. Well, a few dishes are done. At least there will be bottles and coffee mugs in the morning. Sink: Shining*. Baby: still sleeping. Calendar: double-checked. Doors: locked. Lights: off. Husband: moved from couch to bed.

work here is done. Right after I check craigslist just one more time.

So what did I learn from this experiment. Most of it is obvious, so let's just hit the bullet points:

1. I do a lot every day.

2. Time for myself is imortant and earned.

3. Acknowledging that I'm getting a lot done gives me the energy to keep going. I haven't finished every single thing on my to-do list (the way I did yesterday!) in at least ten months... maybe not ever.

4. Knowing that I'll be sharing what I did all day with the cyber world put me on my best behavior. Which helped me get so much done. Which helped me feel better about myself, and which also helped my morning go much smoother today. Ah, accountability.

I challenge you to conduct your own day-in-the-life sociology experiment. Let me know what you learned!

*I follow the flylady system of home/time organization and management. Items marked with a star are her brilliant ideas. Items with two stars (**) are things I created based on her system. Please check her out at She changed my life!!!


  1. 1. That was one long-ass post. 2. The day sounds about right. I hate making phone calls, too. 3. Stop stealing Jackie's "Song Titles As Blog Post TItles" schtick. Find your own schtick! 4. I've been poking around "Authonomy". No worries, you're already a better author than ever submission there I've looked at.

  2. I remember those days well, Mindy. Enjoy every precious moment of it.
    My sister follows the Fly Lady, I recognized the shiny sink post.