As a stay-at-home Mom of a little one who started refusing bottles at 2 months (more on that here), my job has been 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is wonderful and helps out as much as he can. But the reality is, the brunt of parenting is my job. A 24/7 job. I love it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. But sometimes even Mama’s need a break. And I don’t mean the 20 minutes I’m in the shower or the 2 hour nap kind of break. I mean a real break.
But just the thought of leaving him makes me cringe. It makes me feel guilty. I worry that he will cry the whole time. I worry that he will still refuse the bottle. I worry that Mike will get frustrated being with him for so long. (Not that he has, really – did I mention he’s great?) I just worry because I’m a Mama and that’s what we do.
So I finally did it. My friend asked me to babysit. Usually I take J with me, but this time I asked Mike if he wanted to spend the night with him. On his way home from work, Mike picked J up from me at my friend’s house and went home. I spent the afternoon visiting with my friend before she went out for the night. She had an eyebrow appointment and asked if I wanted to go with her. Her husband was home to stay with her children. I readily agreed. Alas, kid free! The car ride there, time at the salon, the car ride back – all adult conversation without burping, spitting, diapers, tugging, or entertaining.
Now here’s where I laugh because when we got back to her house she went out with her husband to celebrate her birthday – and left me with her two kids. So my “break” from my 24/7 job of parenting involved watching children. A break you say? How can that be?
But ah, let me tell you, a break it was.
I played with her children. We did puzzles, played doctor, and read books. It was a break from drool and rattles. But let’s be honest, I’m a Mama and I was getting curious how my baby was doing. Not having heard anything from my husband, I sent a text. “Dare I ask?” The response, “What time will you be home?” Not promising. It was bedtime. He was tired and upset. He wanted to nurse, to comfort himself to sleep. It wasn’t an option. I felt guilty. I told Mike to bring him to me if he didn’t settle or wouldn’t take the bottle. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally after what seemed like days (really it was 30 minutes) I got a text that he was sleeping.
I relaxed and enjoyed a few more books, brushing teeth, night lights, and good night kisses.
And then, the magical moment happened.
They fell asleep.
I was alone. I could relax and enjoy the quiet. Ok, sounds a bit like nap time everyday BUT it wasn’t my house. I wasn’t worried about the piles of laundry, the dishwasher that perpetually needs emptying, the floors that desperately need to be vacuumed, or the bills that I really need to sit down to pay. I wasn’t watching the minutes tick away to J’s next feeding, thinking how I really should use the time wisely or just sleep already! My friend’s children were sleeping, J was asleep and Daddy was on duty. There was nothing for me to do. So I just let myself rest, relaxing in the quiet moment.
It was freeing. When I got home, I thanked my husband for spending the night with J. I felt refreshed. It was just the mental and physical break I needed. Daddy survived. J survived. And the house didn’t fall apart while I was gone.
I got the story of the night. J was playful and happy. Then started to get hungry. He drank about half an ounce. Not much, but it hadn’t been long since he nursed. He was tired and fussy. Mike offered the bottle again. J was not happy. He screamed and pushed it away. Once he was upset, he wouldn’t soothe. He cried himself to sleep in Daddy’s arms. But then he woke up a little while later fussing. He got a new diaper and happily drank almost an ounce. Then he drifted peacefully back to sleep in Daddy’s arms. Daddy felt accomplished and connected. Looking back, he realized he probably should have let J fuss to sleep the first time instead of offering the bottle. Daddy’s learning how to comfort in ways that are different than Mommy (After all, Mama cheats – the boob solves all!)
So, the results of Mama’s time off? SUCCESS!.
Mike enjoyed stretching his wings a little and flying solo as a Dad, feeling competent and capable. J got to bond with Daddy, learning that while Daddy might do things differently than Mama, he’s still safe, cared for, and comforted. It’s only been a few nights since then but Mike is enjoying being a Dad more today than yesterday. He found bath time is a way to foster their bond and feels more connected to our son.
And Mama? Well, she already has another date on the calendar!