Recently my husband was out of town, leaving Henry and me alone for the first time. Even though we've been away from Derek before, we've always been with my family. It's never been just the two of us. I was really anxious. I wasn't sure how it would go, and I expected to be overwhelmed and exhausted. I couldn't have been more wrong. It ended up being one of my favorite weekends and it taught me so much.
So, here's what I learned while my husband was away:
- I'm more capable than I think. Like I said, I went into this weekend not believing I'd be able to handle it. I came out of it feeling like a super mom. I know one weekend does not a super hero make, but I realized I am capable. I can do this mom thing, and I'm pretty good at it.
- It helps to think of my son and me as a team not as adversaries. I realized that when I view my son and me as being on the same team we are more successful. If we can work together to resolve problems, make each other happy, and get things done, we will succeed. Even one day when he's pushing boundaries and purposefully butting head with me, if I can choose to be on a team with him, working with him rather than fighting him, I think we'll both be happier.
- Expectations are everything. When my husband is in town I expect him to help out. Even when he comes home from a long day of work, I expect him to help me. I want him to take Henry while I make dinner, give me a chance to shower, and change a diaper every so often. When he was gone, I knew I couldn't rely on anyone else. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and burdened, I felt even less drained. Expectations change your perspective.
- Having a flexible routine helps. Henry and I had a great routine while Derek was away. We were like clockwork. Naps, bedtime, eating, it all worked. Yet, at the same time, it just flowed. The first night, I didn't know what to do once the clock hit the time my husband usually comes home. But then I decided, we could make our own routine. One night it was bedtime and he didn't seem to be settling while we were starting to nurse to sleep. I told Henry that we could get our fancy drinks (bubbly water for me and a sippy cup that he doesn't know how to use for him) and watch some trashy TV. Within 10 minutes he let me know that he was ready to nurse again and fell asleep immediately.
- I feel safe with my son and he and I are intimately connected. At night, whenever Henry and I were in the same room I felt safe. When we were in separate rooms, I felt anxious. The second I texted that sentiment to my mom, he woke up, not to nurse, but just to be held. He slept in my arms and we were both comforted.
- I don't want to be without him. All the time I wish for some free time and me time, yet as I sat on the couch watching him sleep on the baby monitor, I missed him.
- I can make time for me. I've finally found a way to have some me time. In our new routine, I do bath time with Henry and then take him into the bedroom to nurse to sleep. I used to nurse him to sleep while Derek and I watched TV and hold Henry until I went to bed. Now, I stay with him until he lets me set him down and then sneak away. Even if I have to run back in there a few times (I like to catch him before he cries), it gives me some free time in the evening. It's a great balance.