You’re a new mom. You stay at home with your little munchkin. You’re trying to fill those long, empty days. 6 am comes and there’s a little person ready to go so you’d better be too. Up with your coffee, sitting on the floor. Kids songs on the tape player, reading board books over and over, playing Little People. Got to get out of the house, where everything with an 18 month old is an adventure. Taking countless walks around the neighborhood. Always at the park, talking to the other parents, your girl afraid of new kids but loves the swings. Remember when you let her jump in that mud puddle? Go to the mall, wander through the Disney store, spend hours climbing on those rides that take quarters but no one needs the quarters because they’re just fun to climb in. Pretend to order burgers and fries from the one that’s a hot dog cart, her favorite. Home you play with play doh, even though you’re the one making everything, molding the dough into people, snowmen, snakes, that she smashes in her tiny fist. Fingerpainting. Crafts. More books to read. Watch a Baby Einstein video or Dragon Tales or Sagwa on PBS. Maybe a shower in there for you somewhere…go to Music Together and Mommy and Me gymnastics where you sing and dance and beat on drums and shake maracas and learn new songs to sing at bedtime. Go on playdates where the real draw is for mom to have another adult to talk to because the kids are too shy to play together and if they have a dog forget it, she won’t leave your side. Days are full. Even with a good nap and an early bedtime, the hours are full of teaching, learning–everything is fun when you are 1 1/2. Mom can’t wait for you to be more independent, to do more things, to have some more time to herself, to not have to be planning something to fill such a long day.
Then suddenly…off at school, gone for hours. Time is spent playing with brother and sister, friends, at dance class. Doing homework. Your time is occupied and now mom has time. Time to make dinner without having to cover the floor with Tupperware for you to play with. Time to run on the treadmill and not worry that someone is getting hurt. Time to have some sort of job, some sort of life. To go for coffee with a friend and not have to bring something to entertain a small person. To go grocery shopping by yourself. To carry a small purse. Don’t have to watch anyone in the tub, sing and play and splash. Everyone showers now, brushes their own teeth. Sure…there are things you’re needed for. You still make lunches. Make dinner. Clean the house. Laundry. Chauffeur. But…not much longer, right?
It feels like I’m still trying to find ways to fill the day but they’re not nearly as much fun as they were with that 18 month old. Those hours sometimes feel longer and emptier than ever.