Posted by: emjb | December 15, 2005

Soap therapy

An insidious result of being a (temporary) at home parent is that I’m caring more about cleaning the house. The Donna Reed effect. I find myself waiting for Nathan to take a nap so I can, oooh, wash the dishes! The fact that I am actually kind of excited to do so disturbs my feminist heart, which heretofore had been resolute about cleaning up only after myself and not obsessing about it. But when you’re home all day, and it’s effing cold, and you only have a few 2-hour blocks of free time if you’re lucky so leaving the house is difficult, you get a little twitchy at being surrounded by your own filth. Or else you drink, I guess. But we’re out of beer, so that’s not an option.

On the other hand, personal hygiene tends to take a hit; you suddenly have to work to remember things like brushing your teeth. I have found that I can, once I clean the kitchen, manage to wash my hair every day. But a full on shower is more complicated, which is why I leaned over to Matt on the couch last night and said “I hate to admit it, but I haven’t showered in two days.” He was horrified and immediately made me go rectify the situation.

Like him, I never understood how anyone could forget to bathe, though I’ve heard other new parents say it. But what happens is, you want to take a shower, but you need another person there to watch the baby while you do. And by the time Other People get home from work, you’re zoned out from your day and doing well to remember to make up the baby’s bottles for the night. And since your days do have a kind of sameness to them, it’s easy to lose track.

All of which sounds horrible, and it kind of is, but I tell Matt and myself, this is the hardest bit here. The baby is brand new and wakes a lot, and can’t move or entertain himself. The weather is awful and getting him out of the house a real pain. I’m not yet up to hauling his stroller up the subway steps so I can’t go into town, and there are no nearby coffee shops to take him to and hang out. But by spring, we’ll be moved, we’ll have our car, we can leave the house, and he’ll be able to get more out of the world and less reliant on just us for his entertainment. So I have to hold on till then, not letting myself feel claustrophobic or freaked out. So far I’m doing ok. And I go back to work in 2 weeks, which will make it Matt’s turn to sit home trying not to freak out. But he’s not still recovering from birth, so maybe he will do better at getting out than I do.

Right now, we go every day down to the drugstore so Mom can get a diet coke and something sweet and whatever else we need. It’s a real pain to suit him up and put him in his stroller, plus get out my big coat and scarf and hat and all that crap. But it’s mandatory that I leave the house at least once a day. It reminds me that the rest of the world still exists, however cold and unwelcoming it might be.

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