Being home with your baby all day is a series of moments seamlessly strung together. Some stand out more than others. The steady rhythm of feeding, diaper changing, loading the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher, doing the laundry, playing, rocking, reading books, is a constant in the background of our days. And peppered into the predictable steps are moments that catch me off guard, moments when Penny makes a new noise for the first time, or looks straight into my eyes and smiles, or shrieks with laughter at something I did that wasn’t intended to be funny.
People ask me all the time how things are going now that I have become a stay at home mom. I think some want to know if I’m having regrets about my decision, some wonder if I am getting bored or stir crazy, and some are genuinely curious. I tell them the truth- that I love staying home with Penny and taking care of our home. It is like a dance that I have finally gotten down with some measure of grace. I am usually one step ahead, and only lose my footing when a new move is thrown into the mix. I continue this dance all day and only stop to catch my breath once night has fallen and Penny is fast asleep in her crib. I honestly do not have time to be bored and am often shocked at how quickly the days go by. I have grand intentions of all that I hope to accomplish each day, and yet I am somehow caught off guard as Kevin strolls in the front door after a long day at work and there are still clothes to be folded and projects that I haven’t gotten to. I have no idea how people do all this AND go to work.
But if I am being completely honest, I will say that being a stay at home mom, while never boring (I have yet to find time to sit on the couch and watch tv in my sweats), can at times be lonely. Not because I don’t find my daughter good company. She is great company. But it isn’t quite as fun when I am not sharing her company with others. Getting out of the house and doing things helps tremendously with this, but nothing can top that moment when Charlie’s excited barks tell me that Kevin is home. Because while spending time with Penny is wonderful, sharing Penny with the one person in the world who loves her as much as I do is even better.
From the moment he comes home, I am greeted with a kiss and then Penny is whisked abruptly from my arms. He plays with her while I finish making dinner, then we gather around the table. Kevin gets Penny in her high chair, putting her flailing arms through her sleeved bib while I fasten the back, hands her a spoon while I scoop food onto her tray, fills my glass of wine while I get us napkins and forks. We are perfecting this waltz, finely tuning our moves, as we continue to work together at this parenting thing.
Our dance continues into bedtime. He undresses her and blows raspberries on her tummy while I fill the bathtub. He places her gently into the tub and squirts her with bath toys while I wash her hair. Then there is drying off, baby massages, jammies and nursing. He reads aloud from “Harry Potter” while I feed Penny, snuggles her on the rug while I read stories. He gets her in her sleep sack while I turn out the lights. I get in my last snuggles of the day while singing a song or two. Disney songs like “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Colors of the Wind” usually top our list, but I will throw in a little “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Dream a Little Dream of Me” to mix it up. Penny is placed carefully into her crib, her faintly glowing sea horse continuing to lull her to sleep, and we sigh with relief as we quietly close the door and creep down the stairs, where we can finally rest our weary feet.
Spending time with my daughter is great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But sharing Penelope with her daddy is even better. Parenting is a dance best done with a partner, and I have picked a good one.