I have to imagine that one of the greatest struggles of maternity leave has got to be finding the will and strength to leave the house. Actually, I don’t have to imagine, because I know this to be true.
How I rolled with the first baby
When I was on mat leave the first time around, the seduction of Netflix, combined with both my fear of Mommy and Me groups, hatred of cold weather and just general laziness found my new baby and I spending the better part many winter weeks hanging out around the house. I don’t mean to brag, but together, my newborn and I crushed the entire series of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. quicker than you can say, “We were on a break”.
When the weather finally warmed up, we’d leave the house to go for walks, meet up with the odd friend who might not be working during the day, and eventually, I did muster up the courage to join a Singalong group at the library once a week with a friend and her baby (let’s be honest, I would never have gone alone). Every time I made the effort to leave the house, I was glad to have done it, though one realization came to me every single time: it’s hard.
Why it’s hard
It’s hard remembering all of the things you need to do before you strap your (probably screaming) baby into their car seat to get ready to leave the house (likely 20 minutes later than you intended to). It’s hard to time things perfectly so that your nursing baby has been fed close enough to your departure that they won’t be hungry the moment you slide into the driver’s seat of the minivan, but not so close to the car ride that the bumps in the road cause them to throw up all over their carefully chosen outfit. It’s hard to adjust to having to pack 72 different items into a diaper bag. It’s hard to find time to actually take a shower and maybe put on “real” clothes or makeup or deodorant so that you, yourself, look and smell like the loose definition of a human.
Fast forward to my new life as a mom of two
This was how I felt when I had a newborn. Two and a half years later, I’m officially a mom of two with a toddler and a newborn. If I thought leaving the house was tricky before, my eyes have now been opened to what that word can actually mean. Now, leaving the house means everything it did before, in addition to also having to prepare my toddler for such expeditions.
It’s more than just getting ready
Unfortunately, once I’ve managed to do everything I need to do to actually leave the house and I’ve arrived at my destination, things don’t get a lot easier. If I’m going grocery shopping, I have to choose the store with the biggest cart so that I can fit my groceries, toddler, and infant in a car seat in together, because I am apparently the only mom on the planet who doesn’t know how to properly put on a Baby Bjorn by herself. If I’m meeting up with a friend for a playdate with her kids, I have to be prepared to help referee our toddlers while also protecting my baby from flying LEGO blocks and runaway RC cars. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there have been times when I’ve wondered what on earth I was thinking once we’ve gotten somewhere and debated whether it was too early to just phone it in and go home.
The good ole days of just leaving
Sometimes I think about the time in my life when leaving the house literally meant just that. I wanted to go somewhere, so I went. When I got to that place, I did what I came to do, and had enough hands to carry a latte and maybe even a doughnut while doing it. Now, if I’m carrying a doughnut, you best believe I’m having to share it with my toddler, so I rarely even bother (just kidding, I get him his own because I hate sharing).
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the freedom and ease of being able to run errands, meet up with friends, or go to a movie at the drop of a hat, but the good news is, it does get a littler easier with practice. It also takes a lot of learning to let things go when they don’t go your way, accepting that you’re probably going to be late, and being okay with planning ahead and forgetting to pack extra diapers despite all your good intentions.
No, we haven’t been kidnapped. Well, sort of.
Anyway. If you’ve ever wondered whether your friend with young kids has vanished off of the face of the planet or has been held captive by a band of pirates because you haven’t seen them in a while, rest assured that they have not. They are simply watching their 650,000th episode of PAW Patrol, longing to get out and see the sun, but deciding that tomorrow might be a better day to do it.