Here is a beautifully written guest post by Lashley Rhodes.
Deep snuggles and hard, luminous, giggly eye contact. Maddening monotony, a sneaking suspicion that you will be bored of me long before I cease to be fascinated with you. When I imagined putting my career on hold to spend my days with you, I knew and I so did not know.
photo by Natalie Roth
Your papa owns two coffee shops. His creative, entrepreneurial spirit (and that beard, hello) has had him in with and at the forefront of a crowd of creatives and makers that I, with my regular job -- treatment planning and data entry, etc -- was always a bit outside. Before you arrived, I looked forward to having fewer appointments and getting to soak it all in. We do that; we do it almost every day. I drink my coffee, you eat toast, jam all over your face, the table, our hands. We watch and listen and I try to feel inspired, not intimidated. You encourage me to engage and spend less time in my own head, so I'm making some progress there. My tendency is always to curl inward, but you seek out strangers' and friends' eyes and charm them into smiling back at you.
photo by Ross Evertson
What are you two up to today? Someone will ask. This, mostly. A nap, maybe a trip to the store.
We say bye to papa and get back into the car. The smell of roasting coffee, like burned popcorn and heaven, follows us out the door. You scream part of the way home, then fall asleep 3 blocks from our house. 30 minutes in the driveway. I only check that you're still breathing twice. Paranoid mama? Didn't expect to be her.
I pull your sweaty body out of the car seat and we settle into the afternoon. I used to have a clear vision of pushing the dining table to one side of the room and playing in the floor in its place, the one spot in our 90 year old house that gets a big, warm patch of sunlight. I don't, in fact, move any furniture, but we do play on the floor. We sit on the rug and stack and shake things while bits of dog hair catch in our clothes. I certainly expected to vacuum more.
These are short play intervals interrupted by you climbing up my body and stretching out the collar of my shirt, occasionally blowing a raspberry on my chest, which you know is funny. I honestly have no idea how many times a day we breastfeed. You scratch my chest and pinch the backs of my arms throughout; It hurts and often the curse words and that tone that escapes my mouth seem out of my control. Our breastfeeding journey hasn't been the easiest, especially in the beginning, but we are in a good place physically -- everything works the way it's supposed to. Despite that, it often feels more sacrificial than googly-eyed bonding. It's an unexpected tension that feels like a little microcosm of life, so sitting with it and getting comfortable feels like good life practice.
Soon enough, it's nap time again, then maybe a snack and last night's The Tonight Show. You love when The Roots play.
At this point though, our eyes are on the prize. Papa will be home soon. You bounce and giggle and mouth-breathe your excitement when he comes in the door. I always knew -- really, everyone knew -- he'd be the best dad. Most evenings, he wears you and walks the dogs, roughly 250 pounds of creature in his care, without a second thought.
You join us for dinner, happily exploring tastes and textures. More happily dropping food for the dogs, though, who strategically place themselves one on each side of your high chair. We're modeling sign language for you, you're teaching us the ones you've created on your own.
We've just started putting you in the big tub for a bath. "Big" being a relative term, since maybe there was a special on petite green bathtubs sometime in the 70s. You love the water and have started to explore how it moves, making waves and splashing around, drinking straight from the faucet. My old worries about putting a baby in this tub, with its the scratched enamel and ancient history, disappear when you're in there looking so huge.
We chant "Get this baby warm and dry," we do oils and lotion, and we read books, all three of us. We have a bedtime routine. As expected, I love this part. Once you're asleep, I place you in the middle of our bed and settle in next to you.
And here I am now, listening to you sigh and trying to reflect on our days. You'll be awake again soon enough -- maybe twice, maybe 6 times before morning -- and I will try to sit with the tension. The dread and tinge of resentment that comes in those sweet, quiet moments in the dark, the braiding together of what I expected and what I never could have imagined.
Thank you Lashley for sharing this! To read more of Lashley's blog, http://ilashley.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-day-in-our-life-or-what-i-expected.html