I get asked this question quite often. Initially it was posed by my husband when I was first home on my maternity leave and later by my friends and family when I decided to quit my job and stay home with the Bean. My husband learned very early on not ask this question again. I think my answer one night might have involved me collapsing into tears and disappearing into the kitchen to pull myself together (and by pull myself together, I mean eat multiple fudgesicles).
So this particular blog is an answer to all those people that ask me what the hell I do all day? I'm not writing it to be defensive, rather I've kept a very careful eye on the day in the life of this particular Stay at home mom, because truth be told, I have no idea what I do all day.
6:47 Bean wakes up. Bean has been waking up earlier and earlier. Every day this week, she has woken up crying. She usually wakes up reading her books and talking to her bear so as I lay in bed wondering if there is something wrong with her or if she is getting a tooth, I silently pray for her to find her pacifier and bear and give me five more minutes of sleep.
6:49 Bean is not going back to sleep. I pick her up and place her gently next me. Her eyes are still closed and she is still crying which makes me wonder if she is having a nightmare and if she is having a nightmare, what is it about? A lack of milk? More long car trips? Someone stealing her beloved Bear? She is cuddled next to me, still sobbing quietly. Her eyes are closed and I think, maybe I can have 10 more minutes of sleep. She never sleeps with us, but I haven't been sleeping well at night and I need this. Wrong. Bean sits up and slaps me in the face. I'm too tired to discipline.
7:00 I leave Dear Old Dad sleeping in bed and I grab Bean and place her on the kitchen floor while I get her sippy cup of milk. My apartment is in complete disarray. Dishes cover the counter top and sink because I ran out of dish detergent and I kept forgetting to buy more.
7:05 I make coffee and begin the enviable process of emptying the dishwasher and dish rack and cleaning the rest of the dishes in the sink. Bean starts to help by taking the dirty dishes out of the dishwasher and leaving them on the floor.
7:30 My first sip of coffee. Sweet relief.
7:35 Bean's game of opening and closing the pot cabinet scares her when a pot falls out. Blood-curdling screams follow. I pull her into my arms and we take a tour of the apartment, stopping to look at all the pictures hanging on the walls. This usually does the trick, but today Bean is red faced with tears dripping down and her mouth opening wide to scream which makes me want to cry too. We go to the bathroom and we look in the mirror and I turn the water on to calm her. Somehow, I've aggravated her even more. She looks at me with pure terror, as if I've caused her physical pain and I hold her and start singing the "Wheels on the Bus" for possibly the millionth time and finally, by the time I get to the "Babies on the Bus", she is smiling. Finally. We sing it one more time for good measure and sing "Patty Cake" to seal the deal.
8:00 Second sip of coffee and breakfast for Bean. I give her a Stonyfield Farm baby yogurt. She insists on holding the cup, but not the spoon. In between spoonfuls of yogurt, she has to kiss the baby on the label. I give her some strawberries and she seems to kiss them and then throw them to the floor. Next, I try peaches. These she just ignores. I give her a second yogurt which she sucks down quickly and then, like a horse bucking against the reins, she is trying to wiggle out of her high chair restraints.
8:10 Walk this way. We practice walking and sitting and walking and sitting and walking and sitting and walking and sitting.
8:25 I suddenly remember the three baskets of laundry that need folding. I leave Bean to chase a ball, make sure that DOD is up for work and start folding laundry.
8:35 More coffee. I go and get a second basket of laundry only to return to find Bean throwing folded laundry onto the floor. I say "NO" firmly and the crybaby returns. I tell her that she's fine and that she should get her Bear. I get Bear and turn around to find more laundry on the floor. I yell at her again, and she cries again. She smiles mischievously and knocks the laundry basket to the floor.
8:45 I raise the white flag and give up. I can fold the laundry later when she is sleeping. I smell eau- de butt and realize that poopasaurus has struck again. I pick her up and lay her on the bed and she rolls over laughing. I lay her back and she curls onto her side again. The more I tell her "NO," the more she laughs. Finally, I have to hold her down to change her and she's crying and putting her hands in the poop. Now I want to cry. I quickly wipe her hands with wipes and my arms which is now covered in feces. I get a diaper on her and she sits on the bed triumphant, knowing that she has bested me yet again.
9:00 Naked baby needs to get dressed. I quickly put her blue checkered madras shorts and matching tank top on and then I begin the arduous process of making my 16 month old look like less like a meth addict and more like a cherubic toddler. Bean sees the comb and starts crying. I let her hold an extra comb and let her comb my hair which instead becomes a game of "how hard can I pull Mama's hair?" I can only find one hairband so she get her one high pony tail that pulls up her bangs and leaves the rest of her hair cute and curly.
9:10 Today is our day at the Y for babysitting so that I can work out. I quickly fill her diaper bag with diapers, wipes, sippy cup and snack, pacifier and reserve pacifier. I look outside and opt for a sunscreen-free today because that would add another 10 minutes and more tears. I get myself dressed, brush my teeth, guzzle the rest of my now cold coffee and we are out the door.
9:40 We get to the Y, and Bean is practically jumping out of her stroller. She loves the daycare here. I suspect her love of daycare is correlated to how many balls daycare has. We walk in and there are at least 20 balls all over the place, Bean lets go of my hand and is off crawling after every single of them. I sit and play with her for a while until the teacher tells me that I can go. I walk out the door and Bean doesn't look back. I'm a little sad about this.
9:45 Step machine. I decide against watching the Today Show in favor of CNBC so I can try to understand the debt crisis.
10:00 I still don't understand the debt crisis
10:15 I'm about to get off but if the president is going to speak, I should stay on so I can keep watching.
10:20 Still no president.
10:25 I'm getting tired.
10:30 Finally. Hello Mr. President. I think my legs are going to fall off.
10:40 Still confused, but I'm inspired slightly to e-mail my representatives as per the President's request. No time for abs. Aw shucks! Okay, not really.
10:45 I arrive back at daycare and watch Bean from doorway. She is sitting in a circle of kids reading a book. I say hello and she starts to crawl towards me, but instead turns around and crawls into her teacher's lap. I think she is fucking with me today. I watch her play with the kids for a few more minutes while I pack up her bag. I pick her up to leave and she cries briefly until I put her in her stroller. I see her kicking her feet happily and babbling loudly to me and anyone else who will listen.
11:15 Back at home I give her some milk and she gleefully tosses the sippy cup to the floor and watches it roll away. She rubs her eye and I see that she is sleepy. We read one book together and I put her in her crib with her Bear and her pacifier.
11:30 Silence. I refill my coffee and drink happily. I then proceed with business, answering e-mails, confirming a conference in Philadelphia for tomorrow and I book my train fare to Philly. I then discover that trains are super expensive so I spend the next 40 minutes scouring the Internet for coupon codes, none of which work. I then have to reload my itinerary three different times because inputting the nonfunctional coupon code somehow erases my itinerary. I sometimes hate the Internet.
12:15 Lunch for me.
12:20 I really do eat too fast.
12:25 I think I should update my blog, which leaves to now. Are you tired yet, because I certainly am!
1:00 Wait, what was I thinking? I need to fold the laundry. I quietly sneak into the bedroom I share with Bean. She is curled onto her side, holding Bear snug in her arms. I hear the rattle of the Bear and drop to my knees. She can't wake up now. It's too soon! Too short of a nap! I literally crawl around my bed to get to the laundry and then I sneak into the bathroom and close the door where I finish folding the laundry. I stack up the laundry into neat little piles so that I will be able to put it away quickly later.
1:30 I peak out the door. I don't hear anything coming from Bean's crib, but that doesn't always indicate sleep. Sometimes, she lays in her crib caressing her Bear with her eyes open waiting for me. I think it's safe and run with the small basket of Bean's now clean and folded laundry. Holding the basket at an angle and sucking in my stomach, I squeeze just past the crib and bookshelf and thrust myself through the half-opened door. Ahh Freedom!
1:32 I carefully close the door and then the door creaks and I hear the ominous sound of Bean's rattle. Shit. I run across the apartment, as if by increasing the distance between myself and my daughter will somehow miraculously prolong her sleep.
1:33 It does not.
1:35 I go into our room to find her lying on her back, legs resting on her crib rails, softly caressing her Bear. She has a big smile on her face. I pick her up and shower her with kisses, change her diaper quickly while she is still drowsy.
1:45 I close the bedroom door. Barricading the Bean is key. I place her on the floor while I get her lunch ready. I usually make one or two things per week for her, but I also use her to eat our leftovers. Today she eating red potato salad with caramelized onions and dill. I scramble an egg for her too.
I cut up some peaches and some cheddar cheese. It's her own little buffet.
1:55 Bean's lunch. I sit next to her and place her tray of food in front of her. I clean her hands with Wet Ones (love this product) and get some of her food-covered books out. I read her some books while she carefully picks at her food. I point out different animals on her place mat and make crazy animal sounds which seems to amuse Bean endlessly. When Bean is done eating, she does not raise her hand politely and say "Check please." Instead, she grins madly and drops her food to the floor as if she can't physically stand the sight of it any longer. Or she will swipe at the place mat, tossing the food on the floor in one very effective swipe. Today, she is throwing her lunch backwards over her head. I quickly get the message and remove her food and everything else in the vicinity of her.
2:40 I clean her hands and take her out of her highchair, leaving her to crawl about and cause mayhem.
2:42 I clean the table and the kitchen. I start cleaning out the fridge and emptying mysterious Tupperware containers that I don't remember filling. Bean crawls in and starts standing by the garbage pail of places. I give her a bowl and try to distract her with a whisk so I can straighten up the kitchen.
3:15 I still haven't showered. I put Bean in her crib with a pile of books and shower and get dressed.
3:25 Bean is still content in her crib so I put away the remainder of the laundry.
3:40 I pack her bag of snacks, refill our water bottles and pack up our re-usable shopping bags. Reusable shopping bags are just one more thing that I have to remember when I go out now. I feel terribly guilty if I shop and I don't have a bag. I picture the giant mass of plastic bags floating in the Pacific and then I feel like the worse person in the world, as if my actions alone will cause the further destruction of the environment. Crazy? I blame Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. And the Catholic Church for instilling an unholy amount of guilt in me.
3:45 Shoes? Where are Bean's shoes. She was trying to eat them earlier. She's crying now because she thinks that we are leaving and I'm running around like a crazy person singing the ABCs while looking for her shoes.
3:50 Found. They are on the desk next to the computer.
4:00 We are at the park. Bean gleefully shouts when she sees the swings. And so I hide my wallet in my diaper bag, grab my cellphone and then put Bean in her swing. She is pointing at birds and babies in equal measure. If a dog walked by right now, she might crap herself with excitement. I push her and take the obligatory photo with my phone.
4:20 Bean looks up at me and without warning or provocation sticks her chubby little arms up and says "Up!" I hold her on my hip and walk towards the small playground area. I put her down and stoop over her so that I can hold both her little hands while she walks to the slide. She won't walk on her own yet. She has a very cautious nature and I don't think she has any plans to toddle. I think she will skip over the Frankenstein toddling and go straight to walking like a little lady. We play on the jungle gym, climbing up the slide and going back down and repeating over and over again.
4:50 We depart the park. I give Bean a box of raisins and she devours them. We walk quickly to Children's Place to pick up baby clothing for a friend. Bean smiles and plays peek-a-boo to every person she encounters.
5:30 I walk quickly to Barnes and Nobles. I give Bean a snack cup full of blueberries and she takes the cup and dumps the contents onto her lap and happily picks up each blueberry and eats it. Bean is enamored by the elevator at Barnes and Nobles. She points at the buttons pointing shouting "ooohh." I take her out of her stroller and let her crawl around on the floor. We read a Sara Boynton book and I picks out books for my friend's baby.
6:10 Ahhh! I notice the time and practically throw Bean in the stroller and get her to Checkout. Bean is very unhappy now. We still have one more stop to make at Fairway.
6:20 By this point, Bean is miserable. I give her sippy cup and she tosses it onto 86th Street. I give her pacifier and that too gets tossed. I giver her my water bottle and just as she's about to toss it, but my mama reflexes catch it! Take that Bean! Mommy 1, Bean 0 and then she throws out her Bear onto one of the dirtiest street in NYC. She is smiling now. My victory was brief. I do the fastest food shopping of my life. Bean is crying intermittently. She looks at me with her eyes as big as saucers. Big fat tears roll down her cheeks and she makes the 'wheels' gesture' from "Wheels on the Bus." It seems my singing this song is the only thing in the world that can save her now. And so, I belt out the "Wheels on the Bus" in the middle of a crowded supermarket. Bean is jubilant and she starts clapping along.
6:45 I give Bean a squeeze tube of baby food and she sucks it back and I walk home.
7:00 This is a late dinner for Bean. She's been grazing a lot lately. I'm told that this is common toddler behavior, but I still try to make her sit at the table for three meals per day. I cut up some cheese and give her pasta. She only picks at her plate. I feed a1/4 cup of guacamole and she looks sated or at least she starts looking to throw her food on the floor which means she is done.
7:20 I take Bean out of her high chair and I clean up the remnants of dinner. I cut up some onions, pepper and garlic and start sweating them in some olive oil for my own dinner. I add some sliced sausage and saute quickly. I add my pre-soaked beans and cover with water. Bean is at my feet playing with her magnets.
7:40 Bath. Bean splashes around like a crazy baby. I'll never understand how a baby's neck can have so much filth hidden in the tiny folds. Am I that dirty? Every crease on her body is filled with a paste of sunscreen, food and dirt. She doesn't seem to mind the scrubbing as long as I accompany it with a song.
7:50 Bean is always calmer after the bath. I don't have to wrestle her into a diaper or pjs. I comb her hair and brush her teeth and Bean quietly strokes Bear. This Bear doesn't leave the apartment so it doesn't have the filth of 86th Street on it. We read three books and then I kiss her forehead and place her gently in her crib.
8:15 If you are wondering what kind of a person vacuums at night, it is the mother of a toddler. Bean leaves food and filth all over the apartment and so I vacuum it away.
8:30 I clean up Bean's toys and check on dinner. I chop up some squash and add it to the pot.
8:50 I'm tired and hungry and eager to have a conversation that doesn't involve animal sounds or the alphabit.
That is my day. Even though I'm exhausted and I've spent the entire day with Bean, I can't resist the urge to watch her sleep and so I open the door a crack and sneak a peek. I softly rub her back, happy to do it all over again tomorrow.