I received so many thoughtful and helpful comments on my last post about being an introvert mother that it got my brain to spinning in what seems to be a positive direction, and I think I’ve come up with some solutions. Yesterday I was especially mindful of how much better I felt, and the one difference was that my husband went back to work. Our “weekend” is Sunday and Monday, and after Zinashi had a hard go of it sleepwise for a few nights, we decided to stay in on Sunday and catch up on rest. While that worked brilliantly for Zinashi, by the time Monday rolled around and we were all still at home, together, in our house, I was at my limit. Not that I hadn’t gotten out of the house–I did run an errand by myself each day–but that just didn’t do it for me. I also got increasingly irritated by the level of mess, but didn’t seem to be able to do anything about it. At first I thought it was because my laid-back husband was reclining on the couch most of the time, and so I took cues from that energy level and couldn’t muster the strength to be productive, but it turns out that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that he was in the house, and I was in the house, and Zinashi was in the house, and not only was that a lot of people in one space, but when we are both here, there is a lot more negotiating going on regarding Zinashi and her needs and whatnot. When it is just me, it’s pretty clear: I am both in charge of meeting all Zinashi’s needs and in deciding how our day will run. But when my husband is here, there’s one more person, which you would think would be helpful, but in my case, it turns out it’s as much a hindrance as a help if we are just…you know…here.
Now this is not to demean my husband or his habits or preferences in any way; it just means that every personality test I’ve ever taken is still right. I work best independently. That’s not my husband’s fault. The solution to this one will be a little bit longer in coming, as I do think that we should be able to find a way to make it work for all of us to be here at once and not have me seething over conditioner or lack thereof. I think that for part of the time, I need to just suck it up and deal with the inconvenience, and part of the time I need help from my husband. To be specific, I think part of the time I need to kick him and/or Zinashi out of the house (gently, of course, and with agreement from all parties) or go to see a movie all by myself. I used to be able to go to Target or Whole Foods on my own and feel refreshed, but now I really need a place where no one is going to try to talk to me while I’m there. Thus: the movies. I also want to recognize Jarod’s need for a little time on his own and will take Zinashi out by myself sometimes.
During the week, I am going to be more purposeful about getting a little rest for myself during Zinashi’s naptime. Some days I know I will need to work on things the whole time, but that should happen one day per week maximum. The rest of the week I’m sticking to my system of forty-five minutes for work, forty-five minutes for whatever, whether it be a short nap or reading or a crafty project. During Zinashi’s sleep struggles, I’ve had many people insist vehemently that I just need to have her stop napping, and I’ve been equally vehement in my refusal to cut it out, both because I believe that she still needs it, and I know for certain that I need it. Even when she is older, we will have rest time every day, doing something quietly even if she’s not going to sleep. It is good for everyone to have a little peace and quiet, to know there’s a break coming midday. I’ve been reading this book, and it confirms everything I’ve ever thought about naptime, which is that it is important to all of us, and that it encourages rather than discourages good nighttime sleep. So naptime will be our saving grace.
Beyond that, I’m just going to try to keep a handle on our other needs as well. Zinashi needs time close to me, and I need exercise, so a walk with her on my back is the perfect solution. I need to get more sleep, so I’m going to work on moving back my bedtime, even when Zinashi takes awhile to fall asleep. I’m also going to work on establishing a more consistent rhythm to our days so that it’s easier to get chores done while Jarod is at work so that even if the evening disappears in a flurry of dinner preparation and bathtime and Zinashi taking a long time to go to sleep, there’s nothing undone at the end of the day that cannot be let go. That last one is the most lofty goal, and I don’t expect to reach it soon, but I’m going to work on it.
Finally, I am going to give myself a little more time to figure things out. We have, after all, been together as a family less than three months, and home less than two. I need to stop sometimes and recognize what a big deal that is for all of us. Zinashi is still adjusting to a very different life than she was used to, and so are we. We’ll get where we’re headed; we just have to spend some time getting there.