Before Dory (BD, you might say) I thought the depiction of motherhood in entertainment media was overblown and exaggerated for the sake of exactly what it's called- entertainment. Moms with spit-up in their hair, moms who hadn't showered in days, moms out of clean clothes due to constant wardrobe changes made necessary by a little one who always had something coming out of some orifice.
I know now, they were exaggerating. But not by much.
Today I woke up early for me. By the time Dory, falling slowly back to sleep, had finished her first morning nursing, it was only eight. I thought, with little shivers of excitement, ooo, I can get a jump on my day. We made plans with a new friend and her little one to walk at the park and, for once, it appeared I would have plenty of time to tend to our dogs, feed myself, dress myself, ready a diaper bag. All simple mundane tasks BD, but tasks that now required timing and consideration and careful thought. But not this morning. This morning I was doing it alone, BD-style.
How carefully I moved! One toe at a time, breath held, slipping slyly away. You could almost hear the cartoon-soundtrack playing tiptoe noises. As I made my exit, I risked one glance back, over my shoulder, only to discover two bright blue eyes watching, with great interest, every stealth move I made.
Into the baby backpack went Dory and, strapped belly-to-belly, we proceeded to take the dogs out.
I stood on our front porch, many dog leashes in hand, admiring the foggy gray morning, feeling the breeze on my skin, attempting to guide our four-legged babies in the classic no-leash-tangle tango...
Dory, ever so often, has an interesting feature no one warned us about at the birth center. Matthew refers to it as "Baby Volcano." There is no clear reason for this occurrence, though I expect too much jostling on a full belly to be the villain. As I stood there, I basked in the lovely day, still savoring the knowledge I would have plenty of time to do all I wanted before we left. Then I heard the sound of something wet splattering the ground. I felt the feeling of something wet trickling down my front. And when I looked down, to the little one held closely to my chest, I saw Dory's little face peering back up at me, half-digested milk smeared all over her face, her eyes just as bright and blue as when they caught me sneaking away.
A bath for her just waltzed its way into my plans.
As I took her to our baby bathtub (our kitchen sink) and prepared a spot (a towel, a baby robe, and a baby washcloth), I realized in this moment I had two choices in front of me. One: roll with it. It was done, there was no malicious intent, it was one individual behaving exactly as that individual was supposed to behave. That her behavior interrupted my plans was coincidental at best. So roll with it. Two: be upset. Frustrated with the circumstances, irritated by being thwarted in my plans, angry at the gods for not assisting me in my little request. After all, what I wanted was so simple. To do a few things for me, a few things quietly and smoothly and without interruption.
But that had not happened. And nothing could take it back.
So in this seemingly inconsequential little moment I had a choice. A choice that, in the moment, only had influence on me. Dory wouldn't remember "that time" Mama gave her a bath scowling, the time Mama was a little careless, a little rough, too eaten up with her own irritation to pay much attention.
Not much for Dory now. But how big for me? How easy to fall into that habit. How easy to let that one action create a reaction of frustration, annoyance, a bit of anger, a touch of resentment. Such an unconscious habit...
But not for me. Not today.
It was a lovely bath. I put her down, lengthwise, on our counter, and off came her little green-and-white striped onesie, so cute and simple, now sodden and slightly smelly. We let the water run for a minute or two (a blatant waste!) so that it was a nice warm temperature. Who wants to give and who wants to receive a chilly bath? Little splashes of water, a dollop of baby soap, a soft baby washcloth. It took such a short time, really, only a few minutes, and it was fun. There would be time for what needed to get done. I could always call our friends if we were a little late. They would understand. Nothing hung crucially in the balance on our timing.
I didn't think about what might have been done. I didn't think about what there would be time to do. I washed my baby girl, so little and so happy, and we both enjoyed ourselves.
And I tried not to think that little girl, who fit so neatly in her dad's hand and arm for her first bath, now, at more than two months, was almost too big for our kitchen sink baths.