In My Own Words

Writing and Images from the heart...

In My Own Words

Writing and Images from the heart...

Maternity Leave

People always ask me ‘what kind of artwork have you been making lately?’ and I have to laugh to myself. I usually end up having a flashback of what my day and night consisted of: 

Woke up at 4:30am to feed the baby, then at 5:30 the toddler decided he was up for the day. Squeezed in a shower between 5:45 and 5:46, and then got yelled at by the children as I tried to dry myself off. The entire time thinking to myself ‘I knew I should have skipped the shower. What was I thinking?!’ Dove into the closest outfit but first giving it a sniff ‘diaper? No. Spit up? No. Body odor? A little but not so bad. Good to go!’. 

6:30 we are all downstairs. ‘Ike! Ike!’ from the toddler. ‘No Peyton, we are not watching Mickey Mouse. Mickey is sleeping.’ And so is mommy for the most part. Put that coffee on and watching it brew I feel as if I am watching paint dry. Wishing I could inject the caffeine into my veins if possible I make myself a cup unable to savor that first sip usually until about 9am. By then it’s cold and I am trying to figure out what just happened, but have little opportunity to think about it. 

Instead the morning is filled all kinds of glorious tasks. One of my favorites includes chasing the toddler for a diaper change and praying that I don’t have to use wrestling moves in order for him to cooperate. Another would be him begging me for any kind of television he can possible squeeze out of me at a weak point when I am desperate for just 30 seconds of peace. Some of my personal favorites include telling him repeatedly to stop standing on the back of the sofa, playing with the blinds, and for the last time, to leave the baby gate alone! 

 Then there is Avery. A peaceful, quiet baby who just wants to eat (45 to 60 minutes a time) and sleep (most of the time in bulk), but gets mad when her brother decides to ‘go nice’ on her head. This translates in the real world to him open palm smacking her on the forehead and saying ‘a little little sisterrrr’. I know, so cute. But poor Avery. God forbid I try to go to the bathroom anywhere in there because there will be an all out breakdown by both children. 

Maybe I can go to the park, or for a walk or something. Just get out of the house because it would be good for all of us. If we do get out it usually consists of me wondering ‘baby sling, baby carrier, or stroller?’ What internal struggles. Sling I worry about the suffocation thing, carrier I don’t think she likes it, and stroller doesn’t necessarily mean ‘all terrain vehicle’ aka difficult for going off road to chase the toddler. After much deliberation I settle on the stroller with both carriers tucked away in the basket below just in case. Pack the snacks, beverages, tissues, and all other items and walk down the street it is. (I don’t think I am awake enough to drive a car) 

We work on crossing the street safely, then walking on the sidewalk next to Mommy and Avery, until we reach our final destination… the rock pile! We play here with our bucket loader toys and try to discourage ingesting the rocks and other mysterious objects, while I keep the stroller moving for the comfort of the baby. As 11:30 approaches and its time to leave. I prepare myself for World War III, and by now both kids are crying. Peyton because we are leaving the rock pile, and Avery because she wants to eat. I walk home with both children (dragging one and pushing the other) feeling like a goldfish and wondering if all my neighbors are watching and critiquing my parenting skills. 

We make it home, (everyone is still crying, except me, but I’m close) and at lighting speed I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the toddler, a bottle for the baby, and sit down and watch as the sandwich gets mashed all over the child, the table, the chair, and any other available surface. I watch feeling helpless as I feel the baby knowing it will take an extended period of time as my toddler creates more work for me that I really didn’t need. I offer him milk at the end of his meal and I watch as he guzzles with the ferocity of someone who has crossed the Sahara and hasn’t drank anything in days. In between there putting the baby down in between as she screams wondering where her food went, but I have to abandon her periodically to help with the toddler. Breaking my heart along the way whenever she cries and I can’t comfort her. 

By 12:30 everyone is fed (except me, just one sip of coffee so far) and the toys are flying through the living room. Please don’t hit my television. That’s all I ask. Next is my favorite time of day. Nap time. Everyone, including me, is exhausted. We all go upstairs, and with one final chase down the hall I pin the toddler down and change his diaper and put him for his nap. Before placing him in the crib we must do the checklist: blankets over the windows for complete blackout, check. Soft music playing on repeat, check. Water, check. Blankets placed over him in a specific order, check. Friends in the crib, check. Sleeping child, check. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them. If I’m lucky I’ll get 2 hours out of him. 

Now the baby is crying. I swaddle her, then put a blanket around her, then put her in her yellow rocking thing, and do everything in my power to get her eyes to close. After 45 min this usually happens. I sit on the edge of the bed and debate weather to make something to eat, veg out and watch TV, stare at the wall, lay down in bed and take a rest, or lock myself in the closet and cry. It changes day to day. Instead I call my husband to see how he’s doing at work, all the while expressing how much I miss him and can’t wait until he comes home. 

After nap time we play (throw toys around the living room), have a snack (eat play dough and dust bunnies off the floor), and play outside (go splash splash in the bird bath). By 4:30 I’ve heard ‘Ike! Ike!’ so many times that I cave, turning on Mickey Mouse On Demand and attempt to make a dinner that isn’t frozen, breaded, or microwaveable. I find some frozen chicken, which I defrost and think ‘BBQ chicken sounds awesome’. So I defrost the chicken and bake it, nuke some steamfresh, and we are good to go. When its ready the toddler won’t eat. He just screams. Well, screeches actually. Hysterically. Because he doesn’t want what I’ve made. Blue box easy mac and cheese it is. 

Shortly after my husband is home. He takes over with whichever kid needs tending to, and whatever task needs to be done. We take a family walk, which is the best part of my day. We work as a team to keep each of them happy and before we know it, its bath time. Around 7:00 The children get washed, the stories are read, the checklist is completed (see a few paragraphs ago) and with two to three more time having to go into his room to deal with his screeching, he’s asleep. Usually by 8:30. He normally wakes up anywhere from two to three times a night there after, screeching for whatever reason, causing us all to be exhausted, frustrated, and miserable. Not princess Avery. She has her bottle just after Peyton is asleep, gets her swaddle and blankie, and off she goes until 2:00am, or if we are lucky, 4 or 5am. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So no. I haven’t been making any new artwork lately. I’ve been making a lot of things though. Things like messes, laundry, dishes, and most importantly, instead of making images I’ve been making memories.


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© Trish Kemp 2024