Today we welcome back Angela Mead as our guest blogger. In August, she was pregnant with her first child and imagining what it would be like to be a single parent while her husband traveled for work. She wrote about her concerns in The Corporate Traveler's Wife. Now that her daughter is two months old, she's sharing her reality.
Emerson's screams reverberated through the house. Holding her was actually hurting her. I laid her gently on the couch next to me then picked up the phone to dial. "Karen, I need a favor," I said, tears breaking my voice. "Can you please run and grab some baby Tylenol for me? Em is having a bad reaction to her vaccines; I can't bear to put her in her car seat."
Karen didn't bat an eyelash. She stopped at the neighborhood CVS and brought over the Tylenol, not even bothering to ask "why." Shortly after Emerson was born, she had promised to help if I ever needed anything when Michael was out of town. Friends say things like that all the time - sometimes they mean it, and sometimes they don't - but now that I'm both a corporate traveler's wife and the mother of his child, I'm taking them up on their offers whether they mean them or not. The fact of the matter is, I need their help; I need a hand.
I've always been proud, almost boastful, of my independence as a corporate traveler's wife, but being a new mom, parenting on my own during the work week has humbled me.
The first few weeks after Emerson's birth, Michael was home with me. He took care of the house and me - did the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, you name it - while I figured out how to care for the baby. On multiple occasions, he would catch me crying with Em cradled in my arms; little did he know I was anticipating with dread the day he would return to his travels.
Well, that day has come and gone, and Emerson and I are managing. As I mentioned above, I've learned to accept favors and offers from friends and family unabashedly. Yes, I'd love for you to pick up some groceries for me. You'd be happy to hold her while I start some laundry? Perfect - here you go. Babysitting? Free babysitting? Since you're offering, I DO have some errands to run - won't be too long. I send thank you notes and give lots of hugs hoping that they know how much I appreciate, and need, their support. Buuuuut...they can't always be here for me.
Em pukes a lot. And I don't mean "spits up." She erupts like a volcano, and everything she's had to eat for the day comes gushing out. Obviously, when I'm soaked in vomit holding a baby equally soaked in vomit (both of us donned in p.j's, if that), I'm not in the position to dial a friend for help. Thank God we have curtains and blinds on all the windows.
Emerson is also in a cat nap phase. As a result, fifteen to twenty minutes after I put her down for a nap and start laundry, dishes, a shower, you name it, she wakes up. Though friends "popping in" are welcome, they're likely to find a pile of laundry half in the washer half on the floor, the dishwasher open with the bottom rack pulled out full of clean dishes, or me with a head of suds and only one hairless leg. I'd have to be a sprinter (a silent one, at that) to get anything truly finished during a nap.
In other words, the buck stops here - with me - most days, and it's just the way it is: puke, dirty laundry, nighttime feedings, and all. It's fine. I'm doing it. I get to stay home with my baby and give her 100% of my time and energy, so I'm not supposed to complain. But some days, like the one when Emerson got her vaccinations, I'm miserable without Michael. He's my partner, my best friend, the father of my child. I need him, I want him, I miss him. And I miss him for Emerson, too.
A lot of women have said to me, "My husband works long hours; the kids only see him at night; it's the same thing." But I disagree, because at bedtime, as Emerson drifts off to sleep, my face is the only one she sees.