Today started the same as most: with my 3 year old coming into my room, whispering “mommy…mommy!” until I rolled out of bed to accompany him to the bathroom, and then bringing him back to our bed so we could maybe, just maybe get a tiny bit more sleep.
He humored us for a few minutes, but then, as usual, began asking if it was time to go downstairs yet. (It was only 6:30 am and my daughter was still asleep down the hall). My husband, bless him, took Parker downstairs and I went back to sleep. I woke up to a work-related text, and listened for a minute only to realize that the house was empty.
My husband sent a photo of Parker on his bike and Mia in her stroller, headed to grandma’s house. “Wanted you to sleep and relax” was the caption.
I had a quick moment of panic, as I always do when I realize I have time to myself but no idea where to start. These are how most of my work days begin, regardless of how long I’ve spent organizing my to-dos in Trello. There is just SO MUCH, between my house, personal tasks, all the parts of my businesses…knowing what to tackle first is impossible.
So I started the way I usually do, with cleaning up. That meant putting away the stray toys all over the house, returning all the books in Parker’s room to his bookshelf, loading the dishwasher with the breakfast dishes, etc. I have a hard time being productive if my surroundings are messy — it’s a curse, really.
Then I made myself a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and went upstairs to my office. I sat down at my desk, and again went blank. All the things I need to do were right in front of me on the computer screen. I have emails to send, songs to post, website pages to tweak. But instead, I posted a photo from yesterday to Instagram and opened up a new blog post. I felt like writing whatever came out of my fingertips.
So I did, and this is the result. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a little glimpse into the daily struggle of someone who is spinning many plates. You can probably relate all too well.
My husband just texted me that they will be home in 30 minutes. That’s just enough time to make the responsible choice by showering and getting ready for the day. I feel pretty good about going off-list to do something just for me, though. I hope you do something just for yourself this weekend, too.
Bedtime with a toddler and a preschooler is often a challenge, as you can probably imagine (or know from experience!). But it is MUCH easier than bedtime with an infant and a toddler, especially now that my husband and I divide and conquer. After baths have been taken and teeth are brushed, he takes Parker and I take Mia for the final steps in the bedtime routine.
Parker is almost 4 and has inherited his dad’s master negotiation skills, so actually getting him into bed and leaving the room can take up to an hour (which I secretly love, after two years of sleepless nights with babies while my husband peacefully snoozed).
Mia, on the other hand, has been a breeze ever since she learned how to sleep at 18 months old. One story, one song, a little bit of rocking, and then she asks for her crib.
Church Mice, that is. Way back in the fall of 2006, I was invited to take the reins of an early childhood music class at the church I attended. I was still in graduate school at the time, so I gladly accepted my very first “professional” position in the music field.
I fell in love with this class from the very beginning, and it fit in beautifully with the music therapy and teaching I was doing full-time just a few months later. Every weekend, I got to work with little kids and their families, singing songs, playing instruments, and having a great time.
2016 was a year full of ups and downs, but it most definitely ended on a high note (corny pun totally intended). I had the opportunity to perform at First Night Springfield, an annual New Year’s Eve event put on by my city’s arts council. And while performing was a joy in and of itself, the icing on the cake was that my friends and family — including my two children — were there, too.
Today was a big day. I called it D-Day in my latest podcast episode — the day Mia started daycare. After 15 months at home with my baby, today was the first weekday during which I wasn’t her primary caregiver.
I talked on the podcast all about the mixed feelings I’ve been experiencing related to this day: excitement, anticipation, sadness, guilt…you know, the usual emotions that most moms cycle through on a daily basis. I’ve been looking forward to and counting down until this day for months now, but when the time actually came, so did the tears.
Nothing can prepare you for motherhood, and the way it completely overhauls life as you know it. But they should tell you that nothing can prepare you for a second child, no matter how experienced you think you are. And “they” didn’t tell me, so I’m telling you just in case you find yourself in that place down the road.
After Mia was born and we brought her home from the hospital, I was ready to get back to real life. None of this hazy newborn hibernation for us, no sir! Of course we took it easy and mostly stayed home those first few weeks, but I had a very active almost-two-year-old and a business getting ready to undergo a huge transition.
So I was thrilled that things pretty much went my way in the early months. The hormones didn’t hit me nearly as hard as they had after Parker’s birth, and I felt like myself pretty quickly. Breastfeeding was a total breeze. Mia was a sweet and adaptable baby.
I was getting a bit more sleep this time, too, and even found plenty of time to work (mostly in the wee morning hours after nursing Mia back to sleep). I figured out how to survive and keep two tiny children alive by myself for entire days at a time. I took the summer “off” as a “maternity leave” — and while I didn’t see clients or students, I put in more hours than I can count on the business and my own personal projects. I didn’t miss a single week of my podcast. Sure, I hadn’t had a full night of uninterrupted sleep since before Mia was born, but I wasn’t going to let my exhaustion get in the way of productivity.
It was all working beautifully, until it wasn’t. All of those things I had been sweeping under the rug — lack of sleep, wacky hormones, absence of time to myself — hit me like a ton of bricks in December. I remember having an anxiety attack on a Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was time to go to work. I was standing in the middle of the family room, holding Mia, feeling completely paralyzed about how I was going to get through the rest of the day, let alone the coming weeks and months. I honestly had no idea.