It’s 7 a.m. It’s still dark. I wake up.
I might have been woken up by the beeping alarm clock. This is fine; I can snooze for a few more minutes, or I can drag myself out of bed into the shower. Or, I might have been woken up by my son whimpering in his bedroom. Most days, this is the case. Ideally, I’d be showered and dressed before Kiddo wakes up, so that I can focus on getting him ready. This has happened maybe a dozen times in the past year that I’ve been back at work. Usually he wakes up either before I can get to the shower or while I’m showering, and my husband has to wake up and keep an eye on him until I’m ready. On rare occasions I’m on my own, and I confess that I cope by skipping the shower and hoping that I don’t have to deal with many people that day.
It’s 8:45 a.m. Time for Kiddo’s breakfast. On weekdays we’re pretty consistent: yogurt and cereal. I toss another yogurt into my tote bag to eat at my desk later; usually I don’t have time to enjoy my own morning meal while also feeding my toddler. He’s getting more adept at spoon-feeding himself, so in a few months maybe we can yogurt it up together. After breakfast Kiddo gets to play in the living room while I zip around packing up our needs for the day. Extra shirts for daycare, a reference book I brought home from work, a birthday card I need to remember to mail. With that done, I gather up two pairs of shoes, two jackets, and one toddler, and get both of us ready to leave.
It’s 9:20 a.m. Or possibly 9:45. We toddle down the hall to say goodbye to Daddy, who has gone back to bed for a little more precious sleep. Hugs and kisses, a quick confirmation of plans for that evening, and then we wave goodbye and head downstairs to the garage. There’s a small battle of wills over whether Kiddo has to hold my hand in the garage as we walk to the car; depending on who wins, he either goes willingly into his carseat or we have a quick wrestling match. When he’s buckled in at last, we blow kisses and I walk around to the driver’s seat and buckle myself in.
It’s 9:50 a.m… or possibly later. (Or if it’s a Wednesday, much earlier, because Kiddo has Spanish class at 9:15.) The car ride to Kiddo’s day care has taken about 25 minutes. We like to sing on the way there–rather, I do the singing and Kiddo does the appreciation. “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a favorite, although recently he’s shown a preference for “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” At the day care I walk him to his classroom, hand over the supplies we brought, and then wave goodbye. This used to cue up tears (from him, not me), but now my departure is no big deal.
I drive to work, 10 minutes on a good traffic day, 15 to 20 if it’s not. At last, three hours after waking up, I can eat my breakfast! I make my plan for the day. Check my email. Change the plan.
It’s 11:15 a.m. One of my co-workers stops by and I command-H to hide the browser. Since I’m at the computer all day long, I tend to keep a window open to my favorite websites. It’s how I keep myself motivated when faced with tedious tasks. Just 15 more minutes of this, and then you can have five minutes of web time.
My cell phone rings. It’s the dentist, or the hairdresser, or the spa, confirming my appointment for tomorrow. I’ll be there, I tell them.
It’s 2 p.m. and I’m off to a team meeting. I grab a Diet Coke and a notepad and spend the next half hour (or hour) jotting notes. Sometimes they’re even relevant to whatever the meeting’s about.
It’s 3 p.m. and I’m back in my office. Notice how I haven’t yet mentioned eating lunch? I’ve forgotten about it until just now.
My office phone rings. It’s the day care, calling to let me know that Kiddo has fallen down (again) and he’s fine but there will be an incident report for me to sign (again). I thank them for calling, because one of the things I really love about this center is how great they are at communicating with parents. If it’s one of my husband’s nights for pickup, I pass along the message to him. We are united in our lack of surprise.
It’s 5:30 p.m. I probably haven’t finished everything that was on my plan for the day. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I save my code, toss things in my tote bag, and head for the garage and then the day care. Other days, I start thinking about dinner. We have a system: whichever parent is not picking Kiddo up from day care is in charge of dinner that night, whether that means cooking or visiting a favorite restaurant. Before Kiddo entered our lives, we went out for dinner at least four out of five weeknights. That was because we tended to stay at work until 7 or 7:30 p.m., and by the time we finally got home from work it was very late for starting to cook. Now we leave work earlier, which makes it easier to make dinner at home.
It’s 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday/Thursday, or a little later on other nights. Home at last! Time to stop thinking about work, if I can. Most nights after I get home, I have enough housekeeping and mothering to do that I don’t have time to log on and check email or work remotely like I once did.
We play a little bit. We make dinner. We all sit down together and eat. Kiddo has blessed us by being a really great eater. He usually has a smaller portion of whatever we’re having, although sometimes we do a little food editing before he gets his. If we’ve got leftovers for him from a previous night and it’s taking a long time to make dinner, one of us might feed Kiddo early, and then let him play while we eat. We probably don’t clean up after ourselves just yet–that can wait until after Kiddo is asleep.
It’s… whatever time we finish dinner. It’s either bath time or play time for Kiddo, followed by bedtime. My husband changes Kiddo into his pajamas while I pick up some toys, refill the water cup, and grab tonight’s bedtime stories. The guys walk around upstairs turning off lights in the living room, hallway and the overhead one in the bedroom. When that’s done, Kiddo comes back to me, and the guys say goodnight. We read a few books, turn off the bookcase light, nurse for a few minutes, and then he goes into his crib. My husband and I listen to his babbling over the baby monitor until he falls asleep.
It’s 11:30, or midnight, or possibly a little later. Husband and I have been watching TV downstairs, but I’m starting to doze off. I head upstairs, brush my teeth, and fall into bed.
It’s 4 a.m., give or take half an hour. Kiddo wakes up and cries, and refuses to fall back asleep. I stagger down the hall and nurse him for a few minutes. We’re hoping to drop this nursing session before long, but at 4 a.m. I’m often too tired to go through the trials of convincing Kiddo he doesn’t need it. I really should know better, but… it’s 4 a.m. Fortunately for me, this one’s usually pretty quick. Back to bed for each of us.
It’s 7 a.m. It’s still dark. I wake up.