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All Mommy, All The Time

One recent weekend an astounding thing happened.  Brian had to go out of town at the same time my mother had planned a trip, which meant that I was –





By myself, in case that wasn’t clear.

Look, it’s not as if I’m a new mommy, fresh-off-the-maternity-ward.  I still remember the panic I felt when Brian’s two weeks of vacation were up and he headed back to work, leaving me to deal with the squalling stranger spitting up in my lap.  I felt ill equipped, unprepared, and oh yeah, sleep-deprived to the point of hallucination.  Didn’t someone need to see some sort of diploma, some certificate proclaiming me to be capable of taking care of a newborn?  How was I going to make it on my own?

And by the way, my husband works from home in our basement.

That was nine months ago, though, and I’m confident now in my parenting skills, in my ability to read Madeleine and interpret her desires, and in my strength to overcome her desires when her desire is, say, eating a bag of rock salt.  I know I can do this Mommy thing.

But come on – two days of feeding her every meal solo.  Of eating mac ‘n cheese for dinner because I can make it one-handed, the other arm holding her because she doesn’t want to be out of sight and the kitchen floor is definitely not clean.

Of peeing with the door open so I can be sure she’s not eating the cat food.  


I’ve gone for long stretches with Maddie before; I am the primary caregiver, and in an ordinary week, the solo daytime caregiver, handing her off to Brian a couple nights a week while I work.  But there’s always a husband to come up during his lunch break and give me a hand, or a mother to come over at night and play with her while I pay bills.  Let’s face it; babies wear you down, physically, and require the patience stamina of, well, a much more patient person than I am.

So I was, not nervous; more, grimly determined to hunker down and make it through.  I tried to plan the days so we’d have plenty of together time, games to play, and outdoor “break” time for Mommy.  And in a way, I was really looking forward to it; being the sole caregiver of a baby gives you a great excuse to put off household chores (sorry – can’t vacuum today!  I’ve got the baby all by myself!) and let your adult responsibilities slide; you live in a sort of suspended state, focused purely on the moment and what it requires.  No one blames you if you don’t get the grocery shopping done, or the bathtub scrubbed.

The weekend got off to a bad start; Maddie was so excited about our Days Of Fun coming up that she promptly peed all over the changing table.  I’ve never had to deal with that situation 1) by myself and 2) with a baby who’s mobile.  Hard to just put her down on the rug to air dry while you change the table, and hard to get her dressed on a wet table top.  I was hoping this was not an omen, a sign of things to come.

Honestly, though, that was the only real hiccup in the whole weekend.  We had plenty of play time, we sang songs, we danced, we went for walks.

And being girls, we shopped.

Saturday afternoon we hit several funky baby stores in the West Village; Maddie browsed like a seasoned pro, not acting too interested in anything, putting on a polite but “Been There Done That” attitude.  She charmed everyone, of course, and picked up a couple goodies for herself.  In honor of her dad, she got a onesie that says “Supergirl” on it at Bumbalulu’s; totally cute, and she wore it for her daddy the next day.  Of course, navigating crowded Village storefronts in a stroller is an art in itself, but she was unfailingly gracious whenever we ran into another stroller, smiling politely at the occupant and appearing interested in the other party’s snacks.

And as a treat for mommy, we hit The Chocolate Bar on our way home.  A girl can only do so much.


All in all I had a really great time with her.  I did Daddy’s part of the bedtime routine as best I could, and she accepted it gravely while still looking a bit disappointed.  We took snuggle naps together, ate off of each other’s plates, and made up stories to fit all the cars we saw drive down our street.

There was unanticipated fallout from the weekend, though.  Madeleine’s knee-deep into separation anxiety, having started early at four months and really blossoming into it at seven months.  She’s ok when I’m out of the picture but has to be handled delicately if someone other than me wishes to hold her while I’m around.  It’s been manageable so far, but having mommy all to herself for two days gave Maddie a bit of a Mommy High, and she burst into tears when Brian came home and picked her up.  Talk about a welcoming reception.   That night was difficult as well, as she realized Mommy was not next to her at 2 a.m. (that’s the payment for the snuggle naps we took together), and again at 4 a.m.  Since then, she’s beginning to unclench her tight hold on me, but it’s very gradual.  The weekend really deepened her “I Need Mommy!  Only Mommy!  I Said ONLY Mommy!” attitude, and it’s a bit of work prying her sticky little fingers open.

But listen: if I can get through a solo weekend and say the worst part of it is that now she’s even more deeply in love with me, I guess I can live with it.


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