Thursday, July 3, 2008

Motherhood: Redefining luxury

I remember once when I was little, maybe 7 years old or so. I had woken up early for no particular reason, and I wandered down to the kitchen where my mother sat reading the newspaper. Every morning my mother woke up at 5:30 a.m. and had a cup of coffee with the morning paper.

I sat down next to her and probably asked a bunch of annoying questions trying to get her to pay attention to me. My mother finally told me to take my cereal and go watch TV.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because every morning I need just a few minutes to myself" came the reply. With 5 kids running around the house, there weren't a lot of moments that my mom could take for herself. Apparently 5:30 a.m. was the only time she could get.

The all-consuming nature of being a mother leaves you with little time for yourself. I deliberately wake up early on weekdays so I can get those same quiet moments over a cup of coffee that my mom needed. On weekends, there's no time whatsoever. Naps are the only break, and that time is usually spent accomplishing some chore or another that can not get done when Bean is awake.

While I was away at my conference, I woke up early to try to beat the heat for my runs. I went out running at 5:30 a.m. and when I returned I would shower and dress at a leisurely pace before the 8:00 a.m. breakfast. It was entirely weird to be able to shower for however long I wanted to. I didn't have to bargain with anyone for enough time to shave my legs. When I got out of the shower, I had plenty of time to blowdry and curl my hair. I even plucked my eyebrows and put on moisturizer. I haven't been that well groomed since the Bean was born.

Time is my number 1 most precious commodity these days. There simply is never enough. What gets pushed by the wayside is any and all "me" time. I would love to just go get my haircut. I would love time to take care of myself.

Or better yet, for someone else to take care of me. (Hah!)


Candid Engineer said...

Oh, I find this so disheartening. How do you retain your sense of self? I fear the incredible loss of independence that comes with having a child. Does your husband's grooming routine suffer equally? Or is it tied to the breast-feeding or something else maternal?

Maybe I'll be better off just closing my eyes and taking the leap. Gulp.

ScienceMama said...

Well the sense of self thing was a really big issue for the first six months or so. It gets better.

Frankly, it's my job that keeps me sane. I can take a coffee break if I need to. I talk to adults about things other than diapers. I can listen to NPR while I pipet.

And Husband has been kickass about giving me time to run. Running is my ME time.

If anything, Husband gets even less time to himself than I do. I get to go out for a run. He doesn't get a similar block of time to himself right now.

I didn't mean for this to be a disheartening post. More just a reflection on how my life has changed over the past year. I may not get to curl my hair in the morning anymore, but I wouldn't trade my Bean for anything.

Motherhood, frankly, rules. (Most of the time.)

Candid Engineer said...

I'm sure the benefits greatly reward the disadvantages, or else I don't think I'd have this uber-strong desire to reproduce. And I don't mean to view your post as purely negative or anything. It's just tough to know how it's supposed to work or have an idea of how it's going to go before I actually do it or before any of my friends/colleagues do. I enjoy reading what you have to say, because in the next few years I am essentially aiming to be what you are- a scientist and a mom who still seems mostly normal. :o)

Julie R said...

I can totally relate to the lack of me time. That is probably why I'm still wearing maternity underwear even though my daughters will be 3 years old next month.

Day ByDay said...

first off - happy belated birthday ScienceMama!

Now that I'm 4 months into motherhood (and one day back in the workforce!), I can completely relate. And as much as I hate being apart from my wee one, being back at work has afforded me some ME time (hence the break in radio silence and comment on your blog!) :)

And I agree - despite the complete overhaul in priorities, I just couldn't imagine life without the wee one. There's no one else who can charm me enough at 3am to convince me that I'd rather be awake than in bed!