(Baby monitor for scale)
I love a routine. For years, I woke up, used the bathroom, walked the dog, came back and fed me and dog, ate breakfast while surfing the internet, took a shower, got dressed, one last potty break for the dog, out the door. In that order. Every day. There was a lot of wasted time if I’m being honest, but it helped me feel really ready for the day. In the time period in between dogs, one of the hardest things was the lack of walking the dog. My day felt all wrong without the morning stroll, especially since we were living right next to the beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park, and our days had previously begun with a hike through the woods with friends. I missed him and my routine so much.
With a new dog came a new routine, since the woods were too stressful for him. But the basic steps were the same. Up, walk, all the in the house things, out the door.
This was the routine until the day before the baby was born. Since then, I’ve been grappling with the loss of routine. We wake up at some random time in between 4:00 and 8:00, depending on how early it is we try or don’t to go back to sleep, sometimes I eat breakfast on my own and have a chance to blog a little, sometimes a happy baby joins me, sometimes I not-so-happy baby joins me. My husband walks the dog in the morning. It’s all different. I’m coping, but it’s different.
So in order to get some semblance of my old routine back, I often wake up very early and don’t go back to sleep, in order to creep downstairs and listen to some music, play around on the internet, and drink my coffee in peace. Today I felt pretty awake at 4:45, since kiddo slept through until that point (miracle of miracles!!)
That’s still pretty early to start the day. So I made the Big Cup. My “up before 5” cup.
I’m sitting here realizing how precious this time to myself is, as the Mountain Goats sing about “fresh cup of coffee at sunrise”. I hear the birds chirping. It is calm, it is grounding.
I often say that after the loss of my heart dog, I felt “unmoored, lost at sea”. It’s striking to me how much new motherhood can have the same feeling. It can be lonely, you can drown in the mundane tasks of caregiving- feeding, cleaning, dressing, soothing. The little bursts of social interaction can feel like a true life raft. So too, can these moments one carves for themselves, the landmarks of the life that used to be.
I adore my son, and cherish the time I have with him. But it can be an all-consuming love, and I’m trying to find myself outside of who I am as his mother.
It’s hard work. Today, a big cup of coffee and reminiscing on the routine I used to have will have to suffice.