tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Constant company, whether you like it or not

No one ever told me that once you become a mom, you are never alone again. Okay, so maybe someone mentioned it, or I read it somewhere in a book, like one of those “What to Expect” books, but it was probably more in a “how wonderful it will be to have company “sort of way, not in a “no really, you’ll NEVER be alone again” warning. It really should be more of a warning though, especially if you are a person who enjoys any alone time, like say, in the bathroom.

The moment a woman finds out she is pregnant with her first kid marks a joyous occasion, but it also marks the end of an era; the era in which she ever had privacy. Now she is “with child” and that real doesn’t end when the baby is born. I didn’t realize this was the case right away, but it becomes pretty clear pretty fast.

Let’s focus mostly on my first pregnancy for this post because, as I said before, it starts with the first child, all children after that merely extend the amount of time before you finally get your privacy back. During my first pregnancy, my oldest son made his presence known almost before I knew I was pregnant. I had “morning” sickness pretty much around the clock (which is another thing no one real warns you about; the term morning sickness is so deceiving). This constant sickness made it hard to forget that I was “with child” and for me it lasted about six months. By the time the sickness was gone, I had the growing belly, constant hiccups (yes, babies hiccup in utero), and the kicking and somersaulting to remind me he was in there. Every time I tried to lay down to sleep, sure enough he’d start moving or hiccuping. If I tried to get romantic with my hubby, he’d kick up a storm to make sure neither one of us forgot we were no longer alone during this activity. By the end of the pregnancy, I felt so huge, I felt like the baby had completely taken over my body and it was no longer my own.

Once the baby is out and you just can’t take your eyes off that beautiful baby,but eventually those eyes start to droop and all thoughts turn to sleep. In the past I’d get myself ready for bed, climb in, pull the covers up to my neck and sleep through the night. Well, now I had someone extra to get ready for bed, which meant diaper changes and feeding. That would be okay if babies slept through the night, accept they don’t. I co-slept with all my sons, which means instead of cuddling up with my husband or favorite pillow, I now had a baby to cuddle, except they are too small to cuddle, so now nighttime becomes less about beauty sleep and more about making sure the baby is ok and doesn’t stop breathing during the night. Plus, I was lucky enough to have extra time with my son in the middle of the night when he confused his nights and days for about a month and was up half the night.

Babies cry a lot too and there is nothing more heart wrenching than the cry of an infant, which they often do when you put them down. So I found myself holding my son constantly; while he slept, while I slept, while I ate, while I attempted to fold clothes, even while I went to the bathroom. I remember one night, about 6 weeks after my oldest was born, and my hubby was working late for the second week in a row. It had been a particularly trying day of just me and a colicky baby. I finally got him to sleep and out him down just wanting to finally get to go to the bathroom and change into my pjs. The second I got to the bathroom door, not 20 feet away, he woke up and began screaming. So I picked him up and held him as I went to the bathroom. The problem came when I had to wipe and wash my hands. I had to lay him down on the floor, all swaddled up, and of course he began screaming and came all unswaddled. I was beside myself in tears.

Going to the bathroom doesn’t get much better though as they get older. I may not be holding my older kids while on the toilet anymore, but that’s not to say I won’t occasionally get the upset child who insists on a hug while I’m trying to do my business. At this point I don’t even shut the bathroom door any more. My kids can be happily playing off in a corner somewhere, but the second to try shutting that bathroom door, it is like an invitation to come keep me company in the bathroom. Sometimes they even bring the dog in with them so he can be a part of our family gathering.

If I need to shower or want to relax in the bath, forget it. First of all, there is no such thing as relaxing once you have kids. Second of all, kids always assume any bath drawn is for them. So after a hard day, if I asked my husband to watch the kids while I unwound with a bath, I either ended up listening to a child screaming and banging at the door to come in (while his dad obliviously sat playing video games), or I ended up sharing my bath with a toddler. These days it usually starts with the screaming at the door and ends with a two and four yer old in the bath with me, which becomes crowded so I end up kicked out. Showers are just as tough because once you become a mom you, for some reason (and this isn’t the same for dads), have to ask permission to take a shower. Fortunately my husband is very understanding and usually asks “didn’t you just take one the other day?” to which I reply to the man who takes a bath (not a shower) every morning, “yes, like three days ago. I’d like to maybe not smell today and get a brush through my hair.” So my shower options usually become take one at 9:00 at night or when I can convince my husband to watch the kids and that usually ends with my four year old joining me (because he’s a big boy and big boys shower).

Now that I have three kids, every part of my day has been infiltrated by kids. I wake up with kids in bed with me, I eat with kids picking off my plate and sitting on my lap, I go about my everyday chores with little ones trailing behind me or hanging off me. They are in my backseat as I drive, poking at me while I try to talk on the phone, and squeezing between my husband and I as I greet him with a hug at the door. Heck, even as I type this, one is sleeping in my lap while the other two try to climb on top of me, insisting that I decorate their fingers by wrapping pipe cleaners around them. So be warned those of you considering becoming a mom, you will NEVER be alone again (or at least until they are teenagers and want nothing to do with you), but it is the greatest job in the world.


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