When it's cold, for whatever reason, I feel more domestic. More like keeping my home and my family cozy. More like keeping our home clean so we can cuddle up in it and not worry about how much the laundry is piling up. For instance, this morning, before 9:00 am I: washed dishes and set the dishwasher running, wiped down kitchen counters, got E's first bottle of the day ready for warming, took out trash, set a load of baby laundry running, and played with our daughter.
Now I sit contentedly on the couch, my mind and body soothed by the gentle hum and swoosh of the dishwasher, the little grunts and sighs from a napping baby, and the snores of an aging dog - napping curled in a ball in front of the swing where the baby sleeps. Our living room has a comfortable, amber glow to it emanating from one single lamp in the corner.
Inside these walls, life feels simple and kind.
Outside these walls, though... it's hard. It's long hours away from home; it's the harsh reality of money being earned and spent; it's the stress of not seeing enough of my wife; it's a crying baby in the car while I sit, stuck in traffic, on my way to the grocery store. I don't like to venture away from home on days like these. Days where I have E to myself all day and there are no magical, milky boobs to fix things. Days when home feels safe and outside feels far away. But I don't always get my way. Sometimes, you just have to go outside.
In the next few months is the busiest time for T. She works long hours, long days, long nights. Typically, I dread January through April every year. I cannot even imagine how T feels about this time. Last winter, she was newly pregnant and working these insane shifts. I'm sure it was immeasurably hard for her, though she says it helped pass the weeks of nausea and general yuckiness that the first trimester offers.
These first few months of each new year are always a struggle for us. Nobody gets enough attention, communication gets dropped, both of us get hurt feelings and feel driven away from each other. It's not unusual for us to go several days without seeing one another while awake.
Now that E is here... I'm extra scared. I worry that it's going to be worse than ever this year, but I hope that it won't be. Every year, we tell ourselves that, THIS YEAR will be different. We'll communicate better; it won't be so bad. And every year, it still kicks our butts.
I fear that T is going to be really upset and feel like she's missing out on these months in E's babyhood. I worry that E won't see enough of her mom, and that T's milk supply will dwindle and we'll have to supplement with formula. I'm concerned that once T comes home at night, E will nurse all night long and T won't get any sleep. I'm afraid that my inner demons and negativity will come crawling out of me and insist that I'm not good enough for my wife, and that's why she's never home. That I am not enough of a mother to be the sole caretaker of our daughter, and that's why she cries. That I can't make it through with my relationships intact.
Each and every year though, we have made it. It usually involves a lot of crying and fights over stupid things because we each have stress pent-up inside that we haven't let out for fear of hurting the other. We each try to put on a brave face, put up a wall, so it seems like we are tough enough and we aren't bothered by the long days and nights and loneliness. But all those walls ever do is push us further apart.
Someday, maybe, we'll learn to show one another our vulnerability without worrying that we'll be judged as incapable. You would think after eight years, we would be better at this. But you would be wrong.
But for now, it's still Sunday morning, and life still feels simple and kind. Except that I miss T, and I wish she were here with us.
|E says hello.|