Or the year that pregnancy complicated and coronavirus shat upon.
When I revisited my post from early this year about what I wanted to accomplish, I was focused on it being somewhat simple–my thought was not that a year in which I welcomed my first child would be easy but that because of the time and attention (and money) he would require, the year’s goals would be straightforward.
And then coronavirus happened. It’s not that coronavirus changed that simplicity–in some ways, you can argue it added to it, what with being forced to stay home–
- Small projects around the house. The baby’s room got done, of course, but the main thing I wanted to do–switching to a tankless water heater–was abandoned. I don’t want anyone coming in to install it. But we did tackle a few cosmetic things I’d forgotten about, like finally getting new outdoor lights up and putting in a new doorbell.
- Find Paul a new job. My ideal was for him to find a new, better job and I’d quit mine. Instead, his company’s transition to Mexico advanced and he was let go mid-June, two weeks before the baby was born. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, we think. Because of the Trade Act, he’s going back to school for free and collecting unemployment during that time and can be home with Charlie for the next two years, and although I’m still working, it’s from home. It’s probably about as good an outcome as we could’ve hoped for.
- Get published. I expected this would be tough post-baby, and I was right–but I did manage to get something published!
- Explore freelance opportunities. I did indeed explore, but coronavirus made a mess of this, too. For starters, the tiny extra income I had from music writing through AXS dried up–no concerts means no show reviews or previews. And with people losing full-time work, other reliable streams were suddenly flooded with more people, so work got scarce.
- Get physical. I wanted to get back to the gym, and just when I felt like I wasn’t puking too much to do it, everything shut down. The gym was either closed or seemed like a really, really dumb place to go during a pandemic. We did make it out walking on trails while the weather nice, but I didn’t do nearly as much as I’d wanted to. I’m convinced I would’ve felt better later in pregnancy if I could’ve kept up walking like I intended.
- Don’t neglect myself in the postpartum months. Last year, I noted that I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out I think my body is primed for postpartum. Sure, pregnancy was exhausting and labor was tough, but recovery? Easy. To be really honest–and this is something I don’t talk much about because I have a weird kind of guilt about it–I do not relate to a lot of other new moms’ experiences. You know how new moms always say that maternity leave isn’t a vacation? I kind of felt like mine was.
- Be a kick-ass mom. This is what I wrote several months ago: “When I think ahead to when the baby’s born, I keep thinking about the fun I think we’ll have. Everyone talks about how much things change and how hard having a new baby is and I believe them, but you know what I’ve also heard? That it’s exciting, fun, and rewarding, and I have plenty of examples around me of parents whose lives haven’t ended the way a lot of people like to make it sound like they will. As one of Paul’s work friends put it, if someone is still heavily into, like, late-night-drinking culture, sure, that’s done, but for those of us who stay in almost all week and venture out on weekends? We’re gonna be fine. So for 2020 and the six-ish months of it I’ll spend as a new mom, I want to take our kid out into the world to enjoy as much of life as a baby can, the way Paul and I have. Plus he or she will have two cousins to meet and get to know, plus grandparents and plenty of aunts and uncles.” Charlie is six months old. In those six months, I’ve had moments of exhaustion and frustration, but more than that, moments of bliss and adoration and fun. It’s not always easy and I have my share of Mom guilt, but I think Paul and I are both doing okay. Charlie seems to be happy, and he’s certainly loved and has rarely, if ever, seen us angry or upset. Now, what I thought this time of year with him in particular would look like is very different than the reality–that’s what I wrote about that got published. I was dreaming of Christmas parties and trips to the botanic gardens and the zoo, anything easy-ish to do with a baby that we’d likely be doing anyway. One of the things I was excited about when I was pregnant was just introducing him to all the things I love about life, the fun we had before he was born and had (and still have!) every intention of including him in. It sucks that we haven’t been able to do this. He mostly visits his grandparents, the occasional aunt and uncle, and goes to his pediatrician, and it’s a bummer. But it’s in the name of keeping all three of us safe, and there will be an end.