Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Five O'Clock and I'm Starting to Sag

By the time The Wife walked through the door yesterday, I was exhausted. As I sit here this morning, I’m trying to figure out why, exactly. It was a fairly typical day … simple errands, playing with NJ, stealing minutes for household chores and the like while she played with one of her bazillion Christmas toys or napped in the basement. When I got home from dropping a lithograph off at the frame shop and exchanging a baby shirt, NJ was sawing logs in the car seat. I left her in it to snooze while I ate lunch, and this ended up being her afternoon nap. It was too early, and by 3 p.m. or so she was tired, cranky, and not going to sleep. Finally I gave her two ounces of formula and she dropped off in my lap, at 5 p.m. When The Wife got home I was delighted to hand NJ off to her, even if it meant eating leftovers for dinner because I didn’t feel like cooking and The Wife couldn’t cook unless I took NJ back. Which wasn’t going to happen. So I laid on the sofa for a solid hour watching TV and goofing around on my iPhone.

So: Why so beat? Nothing out of the ordinary going on, really. Did the cranky, tired baby make me cranky and tired? Osmosis? Is full-time infant parenting really this tiring? There was a tense moment late in the afternoon when I was holding NJ up to look out the window—a sure-fire calming trick, usually, but not when her socks slip on the sill and she bumps her forehead on the window. I watched the slow build-up to a full-throated cry and thought, “Brace yourself,” but she got over it very quickly and by the time we’d rocked out to “Vertigo” in the kitchen it was forgotten.

Part of it is that I’m thinking I have to be On all the time. Which I do, at least until some natural rhythms develop and take root. At various times of the day I looked at the clock and thought either “Holy cow, it’s already so late” or “Are those hands moving backward?” Like I said to a friend once under different circumstances: "Wow, that (looks at watch) certainly was an amount of time, wasn’t it?"

Another factor is taking stock at the end of the day. At my job I could drive home and think "OK, I edited three articles, built five Web pages and created a bunch of search keywords today. Nice job." The accomplishments now are a hell of a lot better -- NJ's smiles and laughs, a giant burp after a meal (her, not me), an angelic face as she naps -- but a little harder (or just weirder) to neatly catalog. I'm going to make more of an effort to notice these things, to see them in real time, to drink them in. They're the reason I'm here.

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