Last night, Harley wouldn’t go to sleep. I blame myself – I broke her usual routine. We normally use bath time as a natural sedative. I take her for a bath, read her a book, give her boob and put her to bed, and it works like a charm. But I was an idiot last night. I was playing a fantastic game for review, and I just wanted to keep playing/working. Harley was happily playing on the floor with her toys, so I figured she’d play and tire herself out and still go to bed around her normal time. Well, at 10:30 when I was doing anything and everything to try and calm her down and get her to sleep, I realized I was an idiot. But in that exhausted haze, I experienced another feeling and it wasn’t pretty. I was jealous.
You see, while I was playing my game, I was also watching Harley play in the lounge while my husband chilled in the study, watching videos and playing games. It’s not to say he doesn’t help out – he kept an eye on Harley while I did dishes and started dinner, then swapped with me to finish dinner while I hung out with her. He is always fine to spend time with her so that I can take a shower or pop out to the store. But you see, the default is that I’m in charge of her. The default is that I will watch her while I’m watching TV or playing games or working or whatever else. If I ask him to watch her, he does and he’s great with her… until she crawls into the room I’m in saying “mamamamamamama”.
(I’m still not convinced that she necessarily knows to call me mommy, but she has certainly realized that those sounds get a reaction from me.)
My jealousy is ugly, and I know it is. It’s also not a feeling I’m used to. Sure, I’ve been envious of things other people have – I envy those who can sleep for more than 4-6 hours at a time, I envy those with the funds to travel as much as they want, I envy those people with time to play/read/watch whatever they want. But I wouldn’t want to take away or steal what they have, I can just quietly wish for the same. But my lack of time for myself has turned me into an ugly pile of jealousy… towards my husband.
That’s right, I’m actually jealous that he gets to go to work for 9 hours a day. Yes, I know that’s crazy. I know he works his ass off, that he hates being in an office instead of home in comfy clothes, that it isn’t easy or fun or relaxing at work. And yet, I’m so jealous that he gets 9 hours a day to be a person on his own. He isn’t a dad, he isn’t a husband, he is just Dean. If I’m lucky, I maybe get 15 minutes of that per day. 15 minutes to just be myself, to just BE and not think about the baby or the husband. If I’m lucky.
The hours he is at work, I’m also working, but also taking care of Harley. Then he comes home and is understandably tired, so I try to give him some downtime – sit outside and have a drink together, or just let him unwind at his PC. Then we make dinner. Usually after dinner, we do our separate things – he will watch videos or play games and I will do the same. We sort of take turns watching Harley, but now that she is mobile it’s a lot more complicated. She can get from the lounge to the study and back again. She is a lot more fun to play with now, but also a lot more labor intensive. And while I can ask Dean to keep an eye on her while I shower, it makes me feel like a bad mother to ask him to watch her so that I can day dream, or relax without her, or whatever else. That feeling is made even worse when she crawls into the room saying “MAMAmamamMAMAM” and lights up when she sees me.
When I went for a rare couple hours out the other night (with a rad bunch of people and service that I hope to tell you more about soon), the hilarious and wise Sharon from The Blessed Barrenness promised me that this is a phase that passes. Eventually, Harley will be able to do more for herself and Dean and I will get more of our own time. But for now, I savor the moments when she naps, I live for the evenings she goes to sleep early, and I yearn for the day when I will be able to read a book or watch a series without knowingly sacrificing precious time for sleep. And I miss the time I used to spend with Dean. You know, just the two of us, without keeping an ear out for the tiny human who might wake up at any moment.
I know jealousy is a wasted emotion. I know it’s useless and toxic and whatever other words for bad and shouldn’t do it. But it’s the truth of where I am right now. I just keep hoping that when she starts nursery school, when I get those hours in the morning to work and to be in my own head, it will help me find the necessary balance. I want to be excited to see my kid, to spend time with her. And while I am that way for a lot of the day, I think it will be way, WAY better once we also get to spend some time apart.