Friday, May 22, 2009

Better on my worst day...

I had my first stretch as a solo parent this week, with Spouse away for four days. When this first came up (it was a conference), I was a bit panicked by the mere prospect -- how would I do without somebody else to trade tasks with, somebody else to whip Speck off to a store while I crashed on the couch, would I have the energy to keep her entertained while maintaining my enthusiasm? In fact, none of that was really a problem, in part because we're pretty used to our routines, in part because Speck is quite fun and easy to play with at this point, and in part because she understands so much that it's easy to suggest little tasks for her to do while, say, one brushes one's teeth, or even to get her interested in watching or being part of the action.

jugglingHowever, this was a really crazy and tiring week anyway. But not the solo parenting -- it was a week of Too Many Things that would really have used a half dozen adults around to share the fun. Part of that is because Spouse and I are committeefolks, which means that we have election-related responsibilities, and Tuesday was an election. But that was just the start of it. (This may all be too boring for words, but I can tell that I need to vent it before I can subside into the coming weekend in peace.) Without stretching, I can list the following:
  1. Monday: (work morning, pick up baby at 1:30)
    • Lunch out with Speck, cut short by her need for a nap, which was going to conflict with the next planned errand. Go to Ward Leader's office (around 12 blocks away) after 3 for election materials, entertain Speck (grumpy!) while waiting for audience, trek back home again (with now-napping baby).
    • Wash and refill bottles and pack Speck up for staying overnight at her grandma's (clothes, meals, etc.); get her up from nap, fed, and to Gammy's (6 blocks away) by 5ish. whew!
    • Dinner (was tired of all the walking, so had sushi near Gammy's), then home, where plans for early bed were foiled by the need to post an election guide (this) to my local political website and by the desire to finish a nearly complete Letter to Speck (here) in honor of recent developments. Also, pull together materials for Election Day, make sure I've ordered coffee and donuts for election volunteers, have easel for hanging sample ballot near election site, etc.

  2. Tuesday: (off work for election)
    • Up at 5, dressed and out of house, quick stop by Gammy's (with extra breakfast, since hadn't packed a full jar, sigh) on way to Starbucks for coffee and donuts for crew; to election site to help with setting up machines, finding chairs that should have already been there for us, etc. Stay at election site, making sure we had enough folks working at all times, making small talk during long stretchs of low turnout, occasionally helping out when somebody took a break. Stayed until around 1, running on basically coffee and donuts.
    • Pick up Speck from Gammy's, take her home, nap with baby in afternoon, relatively uneventful baby time at home and playground for bulk of day, quick bath and bed.
    • Neighbor comes over to sit while I go back to election site to help break everything down, make sure that the voting machine receipts (duplicate copies) get handed out to the appropriate people (and copies filed in the Commissioners' box), confirm that somebody will take a copy to the Ward Leader and get other materials back to the City Commissioners' office that night.
    • Home around 8:45, after which I still have to have dinner, wash all the dishes and bottles from Speck's extended Gammy stay, fill new bottles and pack new meals for Wednesday, and then maybe get a few minutes to put my feet up and get online or watch TV. Somehow it was well after 11 (which is mighty late in Parent Time) before I headed to bed.

  3. Wednesday: (work morning, pick up baby at 1:30)
    • First morning up with Speck solo; planned an evening bath rather than a morning shower, so rest of routine relatively easy. Speck a bit feisty and I a bit groggy means I tripped coming up the stairs with baby and bottle, but no dire injuries resulted. All dressed, fed, and ready to leave house a little ahead of usual schedule (no time allotment for Spouse's toilette, basically).
    • Afternoon mostly normal (fun lunch food experimentations), but needed to run to vet (8 blocks away) to pick up prescription for cat (just diagnosed) and then to pharmacy. Got tangled up between stupid pharmacist and over-busy vet staff, so Speck just rode around in a stroller for 1.5 hours while I shuttled back and forth between the two until everything sorted out (this is about needle guages! the mind reels). Intended trip to shady playground now starting at 5:30, so poor Speck only gets a little time on this and that before being pulled away (from chalks!! so cruel!) to head home (still, past usual bathtime). Superfast Speck dinner, bath, bed.
    • Usual evening routine for me of late dinner, followed by stream of obligatory bottle-cleaning, shot and special food for sick cat, looking at list of new foods that Speck might try the next day (but no lunch to pack! yay!), etc. No idea where the time went, but my planned relaxing bath started around 11:30, so I didn't exactly read a novel...

  4. Thursday (off all day):
    • (Now nonchalant about solo morning routine.) Have pediatrician appointment (11 blocks away) in morning for 15-month check-up and shots. It's at 10:45, which probably seemed like a great time three months ago, but now falls directly inside usual morning nap hour. Try for calming morning routine with no success, but instead Speck falls asleep in stroller at 10:30 while I'm picking up some milk on the way (because most of a gallon went off prematurely in our fridge! sigh). Check into peds without stowing stroller, am called while Speck still sleeping -- even though I told them she could use a little longer to sleep, they have me wake her at 11 to weigh and measure, but then of course we wait another half hour for the doctor. grump.
    • Lunch, semi-normal early afternoon, but Speck, weary from her traumas and probably responding to the two booster shots, crashes early for long nap. This has the benefit of making my other errand possible: trip to local market center (17 blocks away) to pick up our biweekly installment of farm-share produce (we already missed the first one due to logistics). Luckily we get there in time, all the produce (lettuces galore!) fits in the basket of the stroller, Speck seems spacy and transfixed by passing scene. We return home tired (and hot) but triumphant!
    • Made evening routine late again so that Speck could test out a new toy that seemed a good reward for a long day: this play sink. It was a huge hit -- I had to drag her away after half an hour (and despite the fact that she hadn't eaten dinner and was nearly asleep on her feet), soaked and happy. Good dinner (tasty new foods!), speed bath, in bed amazingly by usual time.
    • Wash, sort, pack lunches, do baby laundry, eat dinner. A few minutes online to update grandparents on latest Speck stats, a token TV show on the Tivo, and actually managed goal of heading up to bed before 10! Yay, I've made it! (Spouse arrives home very late at night and is there to respond to morning baby cries.)
For what it's worth, here I am at work a couple of hours after I intended to leave (and with the office closing early for the long weekend, no less!). Not interested in avoiding baby and Spouse, but just luxuriating in the absence of any structure or urgent obligations. Spouse has fetched Speck from Gammy's and is off entertaining her in some way, and I have only myself to answer to for whether I head right home, stop for lunch, or (as looks to be the winner) blow a couple of hours catching up on the last few days of Web activity. This is what represents decadence for a busy parent: not specifically being with or away from loved ones, or even of doing any particular thing (although that novel is looking good), but having no demands to fill, no structure to stick to, nothing expected. (To the degree that that circuit ever actually turns off . . .)

Have a great long weekend, all!

1 comment:

David said...

Having recently begun to be psuedo uncle and be involved in the care of three boys, my admiraion for the skills of any parent has soared. Multi-tasking does not even begin to cover it.

P.S. Thank you for the Divine.