Thursday, April 22, 2010

Off-Duty Time

As much as I love being a mom, even being a stay-at-home mom, there are definitely times when I need a little break. You can’t do anything 24/7 without losing your mind eventually. So those hours when I get to put up the mental “Off Duty” sign are just wonderful.

Take last night, for example. I went out to dinner with a girlfriend and Herb took baby duty for the evening. Now, I don’t want to make it sound like he never does this, or that I’m usually in charge in the evening. As a matter of fact, most of the time as soon as he comes home from work, he takes charge of Ryan and I get to make dinner unencumbered, or work at the computer, or run a load of laundry or dishes. Any he always does tubby time and bedtime. But I feel like I’m still on call, simply because I’m there. And of course, the mom-radar never shuts off, so I’m still on alert. But getting to be out of the house, blissfully unaware of any fidgeting or crankiness or lack of cooperation, now that’s being off duty.

Even this morning I’m getting a bit of off-duty time. I heard Ryan fussing at 6 am (!!) this morning, and when I went in to check on him, he was flipped over on his back, turned sideways in the crib, with his blanket off him and mushed in the corner, and he was grinning exuberantly at me, absolutely wide awake. So I put him back on his belly where he could reach his toys, tucked his blanket back over him, and waited to see what he would do. Instead of turning to me or fussing, he very contentedly began chewing on his elephant’s ears, and as I headed back to bed for what I hoped would be 15 or 20 more minutes of peace, I heard him turn on his sunshine music box. I dropped off to sleep pretty quickly, so I’m not sure if he kept playing for a long time or if he dropped back to sleep pretty quickly himself, but I do know that when I got up at 8 to take a shower, he was sound asleep. And as I’m writing this, he’s just barely starting to stir. Which means that I had a wonderful leisurely breakfast all by myself (Daddy’s getting over a bad cold so he’s sleeping a bit late, too). I enjoy having company, but every now and then it’s nice to have a few minutes to myself without my “mommy” hat on.

And I find that those few minutes to myself rejuvenate me for another day of mommyhood. I’m glancing at the baby monitor as I write, and I feel a little thrill of excitement and joy as I see some stirring, a little hand squeezing his blanket, a fuzzy little head turning back and forth, hearing an occasional soft peep. I’m looking forward with renewed energy to another day of watching my little man explore and discover and learn. But for a few more minutes, I’ll enjoy being off duty and just watching him sleep.

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