Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Freedom

I finally know why women tend to be lousy drivers.

Because they have a small window of opportunity to escape the house, the children, both which at times feel like a prison of domesticity, in exchange for 2 hours of freedom…

FREEDOM!

When they finally do escape, they disregard speed limits, safety and pedestrians not because they don’t care only because they are so overtaken by their feeling of FREEDOM and mobility that they can’t help but get a little wily out there.

FREEDOM!

On Friday, Chris demanded I leave the house.

You need to leave the house.

Not really a demand, more like a plea – please, woman, leave the house before I question why I ever reproduced with you

I agree. It’s not that all of this is very hard. I mean, it’s a baby. He cries, he poops, he eats. He sometimes sleeps. But day in, day out, ALL HOURS OF THE DAY…it adds up. And let me tell you – at 2 in the morning, I don’t care how patient you are or how much you love your child, you find yourself thinking OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHAT DO YOU NEED ALREADY!

Do you need to be fed, changed, swaddled, soothed, held, comforted, sung to, rocked, swayed, shushed, bounced, boppied, burped, stimulated, told to that if only you would stop putting your hand in front of your mouth you might be able to get something into your mouth!


And so you get tired, a little frustrated, a little overwhelmed. You need a release. You call up your mom to just come over to the house to be there with you, to listen to your bitching about how every time you need to take a crap the baby is nursing or would you please just hold him for 10 minutes so I can do anything that requires two hands. You ignore the baby at 6 am because at that point, after being up with him at 9 pm, 11:30 pm, 1:30 am and 4 am you consider yourself off the clock. Enough is enough. Let the husband take him.

So on Friday, when Chris told me to leave the house, to go do something, anything, I listened.

And, Elizabeth, I want you gone for at least 2 hours.

(when he calls me Elizabeth I know I am in trouble)

Make it 4 hours.

At first I wasn’t too sure. What am I going to do anyways? Of course I have a growing list of things I need to do but most are not inviting. I need to buy new sports bras, new clothes, I need to spend more money on stuff I’ll probably only use for a few months. Can pregnancy get ANY more expensive?


(it can – we just got the bill from the hospital, having a baby cost over 20K – and that’s just the hospital!)

But once I got into the car, turned on adult music at an adult volume I found myself on the highway heading to an adult store to buy adult things. NOTHING that involved baby.

Two hours later, I was back at home. What a difference two hours made. I fed the baby, played with the baby and wanted to be around him. Yes, I love him but sometimes I think to myself I don’t know what you need. I don’t know what to do with you. I don’t know anything so obviously I’m doing a bad job at being a mother. I think this is all very, very normal. But you feel bad about thinking it – or feeling it. Hey, it’s not all cupcakes, cuteness and lemonade. Sometimes you’re sitting in the rocking chair with a wailing baby thinking – what….WHAT! How do teenagers do this and I’m sitting here with a crying kid and no idea how to console him?

That is how you get overwhelmed. The cure – leave the house. Chris was right. Get out, change the scenery, go eat sushi and Swedish fish for lunch just because you can. And eat with both hands because you have them free. No baby.

About an hour later, Chris demanded that I leave again.

Why?

Because you can, Elizabeth. Because I’m here to watch the baby. Get out of the house.

So I went to the gym. I wanted to go for another walk and it was 94 blazing degrees outside. The idea of walking on the indoor track sounded like torture. But then again, so did another walk around the neighborhood in the heat.

Forgive me for I have sinned. It has been 3 weeks since I last stepped into the gym. I love the gym. I am, admittingly, a gym rat and always will be. I know there are others like me out there. We unite, sweaty, love the smell of the gym, the sounds of the gym. It makes us feel at home.

The woman at the front desk greeted me. Did you have your baby?

God, I hope so! If not, for my next magic trick I’ll show you how to suck an entire baby into your pooper and hold it there. Along with 36 excess pounds.

Well, you look great!

THANKS! And this time, unlike the 10000 other times in pregnancy when someone said that to me when I was huge, swollen and sweaty, I am going to believe it. No questions asked.

I went up to the indoor track and started walking. Ho hum. But I brought some good tunes and soon found myself in a rhythm of laps. A mile goes by and then I started thinking. Maybe I should time myself? All I know is that late in pregnancy I was walking over 18 minute miles on the treadmill and occasionally running at a 15-minute per mile pace for a minute or so. YIKES!

I timed my first mile in 14:45. And then I got to thinking…..could I break 14? The bar has been raised. A challenge has been set. I play games like this all the time with myself. And I know, once I set the challenge, I’m going all the way. It will get done.

It’s on.

I’m walking. Fast. Timing each lap. I see another man walking, and set him as my goal within the goal. I will lap him. I’m coming after you. Each lap I challenge myself to walk faster. Quicken the step. At lap number 6 I see the man down the straightaway. Eyes on the prize eyes on the prize. I’m gaining on him but it’s going to take a little more. Focus, Fedofsky, FOCUS! I’m coming after you. I get right behind him and feel the overwhelming urge to shout ON YER LEFT and finally when I pass him want to turnaround and shout…OVERTAKEN! DROP BACK! DROP BACK! Two laps to go and I’m stuck at 1:14 per lap. I think to myself – can I break 1:14…the next lap I go 1:13. FINAL LAP! The bell rings. I’m picking up the pace now and know it will be close but come in at…

13:44!!!

OH MY GOD I WIN I WIN I WIN!

I was like a gerbil on a wheel. And had no idea. Or didn’t care. Because for 13 minutes and 44 seconds…I felt like an athlete again.

Soon after, I left the gym. It was time to go home and feed the little man. When I do, I’m finally relaxed, I love looking at him and feel a little more able to meet his needs. Time away is all it takes. If not, my mom warned me I will lose my mind. You feel a lot of things as a new mother….one of them is guilt. Guilt for being away from them or wanting to do other things. Shouldn’t I just want to take care of him, smother him in love and meet his needs? Isn’t there something I should be doing with him? Questions like this fill your head all day long. Yes, you should be doing a lot of things but first taking care of yourself. Accepting that it’s ok to meet your own needs before you try to meet someone else’s. We all know this but you need a few (daily) reminders when you’re new at being a mommy.

Chris told me for the next 3 weeks I need to leave the house as much as possible. And he’s right. Because in another 3 weeks, I realize that leaving the house will become a nightmare of the stroller, the carseat, the diaper bag – doing it all by myself. It will take me an hour just to get out the door! But I can do it. I’m going to do it. And, if I work really hard at it and focus, I bet you I can get that out of the door time down to 52:12.

Watch me.

5 comments:

Jennifer Harrison said...

ha! crack me up!! it doesn't change - actually it gets worse. Today i told jerome, "I am leaving for a couple of hours."

"where are you going?"

Me: "I AM NOT SURE."

I called him 1.5 hours later for the grocery store.

Ha...yep!

Crack me about pacing the track. oh boy!

Mary IronMatron said...

I love that you compete even when walking. You are so NOT going to make that required time off before you start running again. :)
Hope the wound is healing up nicely. It's hard to leave the house--and it's hard not to. You are doing awesome and Max is so so so cute.

TriGirl Kate O said...

Amen, sister.

Katie said...

I was cheering you on as you flew by that guy on the track. I can't wait to do the same. 10 Weeks to go!!!

Alicia Parr said...

Nice speed walking!

You're right - guilt comes with the territory, but it shouldn't stop you from doing what's right. What's right is taking care of self and baby.

FWIW, I'm typing this while nursing a wriggling almost 2 year old. And I need a shower.