I currently only work 35 hours/week. I have been at this slightly reduced number of hours since Pumpkin was 5 months old (she's 10 months old now). At first, I tried to take every Friday off, and just work an hour or two from home while she napped. If you read back through my archives, you'll see that napping has not always been Pumpkin's forte, so that plan didn't work so well. In January, I switched to taking every other Friday off. That works much better. I don't have to try to log in and do any work, which (along with an attitude adjustment about naps in the stroller and a general improvement in Pumpkin's napping skills) has made napping much less of an issue.
To be honest, I find the Fridays off more tiring than my work days. Pumpkin apparently demands much more concentration than my job. However, she and I have recently found our groove on our days together. Today, for instance, was an almost perfect day. We went to my breastfeeding support group for old times' sake. She was cute and charming just like the older babies from my early days at the group. I hope she and I provided some comfort to the new moms like the older babies and their mothers did for me. Instead of just saying it gets easier, we demonstrated it! Well, except for the bit where I chased her all over the room keeping her from sticking her fingers in plugs or littler babies' eyes... that is definitely harder than the days when she'd just nap in my arms or play on the blanket I brought for her. But I'll take that over the sore nipples, raging hormones, and non-stop nursing of the early days.
After support group, we came home and ate lunch. She got mad at me because I stopped at the drug store for a quick errand on the way home. She burst into tears when I hefted her car seat onto her stroller. I could almost hear her saying "No, Mommy! We're supposed to go home and have lunch now!" Once we were home and she was happily ensconced in her high chair, though, the smiles came back, and she actually ate all of her lunch with minimal fuss. This is another vast improvement over... well, over two weeks ago. Another parenting problem solved just by waiting. Really, I should learn to take that problem solving approach more often.
Once lunch was done, we played in the backyard a bit, but not too long, because I got tired of taking things out of her hands and saying "we don't eat X", where X=grass, leaves, rocks, etc. Still, she loves to be outdoors, and it was a beautiful day. We played some more indoors, and then I got out her stroller to take her for a walk. First we stopped in to visit the older couple two doors down. They have been stopping me in the morning to say hi and apologize for not coming to welcome us to the neighborhood, and I thought they might enjoy meeting Pumpkin. I was right, and we had a nice visit (I now know where to go for any neighborhood history or gossip I need- they are original owners of their house, and seem to know everyone). Pumpkin was again cute and charming, but when she started yawning I knew it was time to go. We took a long walk around the neighborhood. She napped through most of it.
As usual, she woke up not long after we got home, but she fell right back to sleep when I picked her up, so I little her snuggle into my chest and went and took a nap on the sofa. I used to worry about "spoiling " her by letting her sleep in my arms, but now I think I should treasure these times, because I can already see that the snuggling days are numbered. She is in a cling-to-Mommy phase right now, and even so, she wants down a lot more often. She'll go away and play for a few minutes, and then come back for another hug. It makes it impossible to do any actual chores, but isn't the prolonged snuggling that she used to like.
After her nap, we read stories. She loves the Baby Says Peekaboo book her U.S. grandparents sent her. She is also enjoying the rhyming books from her New Zealand grandparents, like Down the Back of the Chair and Hairy Maclary's Rumpus at the Vet. Then we played peekaboo, and chase, and played with her blocks and toy piano until dinner time.
It was a wonderful day, but these days are numbered. In fact, there is exactly one of them left: I have accepted a different job, which I'm very excited about. However, I'll be working 40 hours a week. I start at the new job on the 25th, so I only have one more Friday off. I will miss these Fridays, even though I have only recently figured out how to really enjoy them (i.e., stop worrying and just follow Pumpkin's lead). I'm busy scheming for a way to keep some of the magic I so recently discovered. I'm sure I'll find a way. I am lucky enough to work in an industry where flexible hours are the norm, and where bosses generally don't care too much if you leave early occasionally, as long as your work gets done. Still, I'd be lying if I claimed that I'm not a little bit sad to say good-bye to this particular era. And I feel a bit like I cheated myself out of more of these perfect days by worrying too much about getting chores done, or getting her to take her naps how I wanted. There is a lesson there, but I suspect I will fail to really learn it....
Yes, the title of this post is a reference to an obscure Billy Joel song. Hubby has been listening to it recently, saying it reminds him of giving up our pre-baby lifestyle, but in a good way. I'm not sure what that means, actually.