I used to be a pretty active member of a couple community theatre troupes. I even managed to get the lead one time (playing a crazy old lady at the ripe old age of 25, go figure that one). Anyway, what used to make me a bit nuts about theatre is the same thing that Dame Judi Dench always really loved about it - the neverendingness of it. I remember hearing an interview with Dame Judi many years ago where she talked about her difficulties moving from stage to screen, because when she acted on stage, her performance could change from night to night, presumably getting better and deeper and richer with time. Whereas in film, once the performance is captured, there it is - and no matter how many times you watch the movie, the performance will be the same.
Where Dame Judi appreciated the opportunity for constant improvement and re-interpretation, I did not. I remember coming off stage after a great performance, coasting on the high of the audience's applause - and then realizing that 22 hours later, when the next show started, it wouldn't matter at all that the entire cast and crew had nailed it tonight. There would be a new audience waiting to be impressed and awed, and they wouldn't care at all how great the previous night had been. What a depressing thought.
I find parenthood to be very, very similar.
Yesterday I absolutely nailed the nap schedule. Gwen got two awesome naps, I got a few chores done as well as attending Healthy Beginnings, and we even ate dinner at a pretty reasonable hour. It was a great day. In the evening, Chris swaddled Gwen and she fell asleep in his lap without any further effort - she then slept for nearly 8 hours before waking for a night feed (which Chris handled without me, what a treat!). Then she went back to sleep for another 4 hours.
But today is another matter. And today, it just doesn't matter how well I handled all my responsibilities yesterday, because today I have to do it all over again. The nap management, the laundry and the dishes, the tricky pre-planning to make sure I get lunch and that there's something ready for dinner this evening. The bottles: prepping them, feeding them to Gwen, cleaning them, getting them prepped again. Tidying the living room just enough so that the clutter doesn't take over. Sometimes it does feel crushing, the mind-numbing repetition.
And just as a stage performance, no matter how well-rehearsed, can be undermined by a prop failure or another actor's missed cue, my great intentions as a mom can be instantly pulled off-track by Gwen's failure to co-operate. It's especially irritating when the exact same things that worked so well yesterday, are suddenly failing miserably today.
I wandered over to your blog, it's been pretty quiet on ours. I hear you!, although you are lucky that you have a schedule to aim for! Charlie is a hopeless napper, the books tell me it is all my fault (isn't everything). Anyway he has taken to his swing lately so I'll mess things up with that for a while. He spends a lot of time trying to wake up in it.
When it all feels like it isn't working - do nothing. Sit in the middle of the room, with your baby, and just be. Watch her, meditate, think. Or, if you like, do some needlepoint, have a snuggle and fall asleep on the couch totally off-schedule and just relish in baby and completely ignore the chores.
I'm serious. Do nothing. Trust me, the laundry will be there tomorrow, it won't go away. It never goes away, so everyday do something with an end, like read, or meditate, or cruches, or write, something you can work towards completing. That way, you feel accomplished.
Even better, go outside and just sit in the grass, with a book, and the baby, and maybe read. Or not. That way, when you're outside, you can't see the things you think you need to do that never end.
This is some of the best advice I ever got when I dived into parenthood.
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