In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character gets stuck in a time loop. He’s forced to live the same day over and over; no matter what he does – good or bad – he goes to bed each night and wakes up to do it all over again.
Does this sound familiar (except the full night’s sleep) to anyone who’s had a baby? The early days (coincidentally began in early February) felt like that movie.
Nearly every day was the same – nurse, diaper, nap. Wipe down the kitchen counter and shower while the baby sleeps. Nurse, diaper, nap. Wipe down the counter again and fling some food down my throat while the baby dozed in his bouncer. Nurse, diaper, nap. Watch the snow outside and Netflix. Nurse, diaper, nap.
As the weather warmed and my baby grew, our days varied. There were friends to be met for play dates and adventures to Target to be had. We had no tight schedule, and every day was a bit different.
But now that I’ve returned to work, my days are even more regimented and repetitive. I’ve said numerous times that organization and sticking to a routine is the secret to pulling off this working mom thing, and our routine is pretty much down by now. Wake up, nurse, and hand him off to my husband for his breakfast and morning playtime while I eat and get dressed. Wipe off the kitchen counter, pack up my breast pump, and grab a few final snuggles before I’m out the door to go to work (Daddy does daycare drop-off).
After work, I pick up the baby at daycare, drive home, carry him and all of our stuff inside, and try to balance it all while unlocking the door. By the way, I’ve perfected the balancing act – the baby on my left hip, breast pump bag on my left shoulder, purse over my right one, baby’s lunch bag in my left hand, cooler bag with expressed milk looped over my right wrist and keys in my right hand. This is especially fun when there’s snow on the ground.
Remove shoes, hats, and jackets, greet the dog and get the kiddo in his highchair for dinner. Negotiate and bribe him to eat said dinner, only to give up after he’s consumed three peas and numerous crackers. Wipe down the counter: bath time, stories, last nursing, and bedtime.
My husband and I high-five after successfully getting the baby to sleep. We make bottles and his lunch for the next day, pack his bag, eat our own dinner, wipe off the counter, and go to sleep.
After what seems like moments, the alarm goes off, and we do it all again.
In the movie, Bill Murray’s character becomes frustrated with the repetitiveness of his days and starts feeling hopeless. However, as time progresses, he realizes that the repetitiveness offers him an opportunity to improve the little mistakes he makes during the previous day.
I remember well a day when I confessed in my baby group that I’d forgotten to read the baby a book the night before. “So, you’ll do it tonight!” another mom said. As simple as it was, this was a revelation to me. Having every day be the same gives you a chance to have an “off” day now and again. A day when the baby is read one less book, or you don’t fit in a bath.
There are plenty of chances to get it right the next day.
Let’s not forget that when a day repeats itself repeatedly, both the tough and the great parts do. I wipe the kitchen counter off a dozen times a day, I sometimes dream about cleaning bottles, and every day as I perform the juggling act of schlepping all of our stuff into the house, I find myself cursing in my head.
But then there are the joyous parts of our routine. There are the giggles that accompany my baby’s consumption of oatmeal, the grin on his face when he sees me walk through the door at daycare, the roar he lets out as he crawls toward me, and the peaceful moment at the end of the day – when it’s just the two of us in his room in the dark, snuggled on the glider and rocking to sleep. I smell his hair, hold him close, and think how lucky I am to experience that sweet moment, and many others, again the next day.
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here…I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter – Groundhog Day
I can soooo relate to this post, Betsy! Especially the part about lugging all of our gear back into the house every afternoon. Sometimes I will sit in the driveway and respond to an email or two on my phone, just to avoid it for one more minute!