Baby & Me

Stay home

First order of business: If you’re a mum who stays home with her kids, I salute you. No, really. Sincerely. Stay-at-home mums? You rock. It’s not for nothing that they call it the hardest job in the world. Thank the Lord that it is also the most fulfilling, otherwise few of us would do it.

I spent all of last week running after my sassy lil’ miss and I’ll tell you what, by the end of it, I couldn’t wait to go back to the office. Looking after a 10-month old – just one mind you, to all you mothers with two, three, four and more children, again, big up – is a full time endeavour.

Even when Adoti was sleeping, my mind was still churning out instructions: Do the laundry, wash dishes, blend fruit, cook food, iron clothes, prepare the bath, buy groceries, clear away toys, open the windows, draw the curtains, take out the trash…and on and on and on.

When she was awake, she was following me everywhere, quite literally underfoot, tugging on my clothing or swinging on my leg like I was King Kong and she was a baby gorilla.

Leaving the house was an Oscar worthy production. Truly. But I always felt more like the crew than the cast. With baby bag, hand bag, plastic bag with baby food and baby in tow, I would feel my way down the steps like a blind person (my view was obscured by all the baggage) and head in the general direction of the car.

Then the battle to belt Adoti into her car seat would begin. Suddenly, it would seem like she had eight limbs and none of them wanted to be tied down. Sigh. Eventually, we would be on our way but at each stop, we’d have to go through the strap-out-strap-in ritual and as time would go by, she would get more and more irritable.

But yeah, we survived. By the time the week was through, I felt like I had earned the right to be called ‘woman’.

The child has the uncanny ability to find my very last nerve and then stomp on it. I have to keep reminding myself that she’s a baby who really doesn’t have the capacity to do things out of malice. Even when it seems like she’s a mini sniper with orders to take me down.

On several nights last week, she refused to sleep. She kept me up until the wee hours of the morning, walking around the house and leaving a trail of household items in her wake. Every time I put her in her crib, she would cry like the world was coming to an end. I got so frustrated that I swatted her little bottom and told her in no uncertain terms to, “Stop crying!”

You should have seen the look of complete and utter shock on her face. For about five seconds, she was absolutely stunned. But then it registered that Mama dearest had actually laid a hand on her. She breathed in and let out a piercing scream. And then another one. And another one. Keep in mind it’s about 3am. She was screaming with such force that she could barely catch her breath.

She kept turning her head to look at me as if she still couldn’t come to terms with the reality that her mother was a beast. I did my best to comfort her and make it all better and eventually, she calmed down. But she still wouldn’t sleep. So I had to dial it back and be patient. There really was no other alternative other than throwing her out of the window, which I’m sure I would have regretted in the morning.

But despite our endless series of run-ins and confrontations, we really got into a groove. I began to realise that I hadn’t really been interacting with Adoti on a personal level because my priority as a working mum had been to fulfil her needs and then all other things would be added. So I was changing diapers, feeding, dressing and washing her kind of like a robot would, without any meaningful connection.

During my week at home, I really got to know my child. And she got to know me. We learned how to get along rather than just to co-exist in that biological, mother/daughter symbiotic-type relationship. I might have been wishing for office work, because of the sheer strain of caring for an infant, but I’ll tell you what, it was the most rewarding thing I have done in months.