“Go sit down, Love,” he says, rubbing the small of my back as he passes me in the kitchen.
Baby Julian’s been asleep for half an hour. And after bath time, story time, last ditch run-around time, glass of water time, and two dozen loudly whispered “SHHHHHH’s” on our part, five-year old Iris is finally in bed too.
He tells me to go sit down every night on his way to go sit down. He takes his usual place on the couch, gets out his Kindle and settles in. “I will,” I say, looking at my comfortable blue reading chair.
Much has been written, and quite well, about the invisible work-load that women carry. And I’ll add a few of my own pennies here. Yes, I chose this domestic life for now, I wanted out of the corporate world, I voiced my longing for another child, and I don’t regret or begrudge my man a thing. It’s simply a fascinating, sigh-worthy look at the domestic divide that so defines our culture at this particular moment in time.
The kids (plural! That still gets me!) are in bed and it’s that time of night, so he goes to sit down.
It’s that time of night, so I finish the dishes, wipe down the counters, check on the baby, clean out the bathtub, put the lid on the toothpaste, check on the five-year old, pick up her wet towel, put away the open box of Triscuits he’d been eating in the living room, change the laundry, fill my water glass, and then, after I plop a full basket of clean laundry in front of him, I go sit down.
After the c-section, he took very good care of me, of us, the house, and was back to work before I was even home from the hospital. He’s on The Angle road headed to town by 8 am, after a quick drop-off at the school. By early afternoon he’s back, stopping in mid-shift to check on us and for a quick cuddle with his little man. Julian melts into him in a way he doesn’t with me. I don’t begrudge him that either. I’ve had five years of center-of-the-worldness with Iris. It’s certainly his turn.
“Did you get the parts ordered for the pellet stove?” he asks me when he stops in one afternoon. I had. I’d also gotten some outbound mail ready, finished the grocery list, readied a batch of bone broth and started making plans for Iris’ 6th birthday.
Sometimes, depending on how the night went, we’re back in bed when he gets home. Our days and nights are just starting to right themselves. Days go by and I wonder when I last showered. His bedside table holds his phone and his Kindle. My side of the room is littered with baby items of all sorts, an overflowing diaper bin and a plethora of pillows. Six weeks ago they nightly held my pregnant body in all of its third trimester discomfort. Now they rest on the floor until I need them for a backrest while breastfeeding in the middle of the night.
Julian sleeps well this time of night and if I want to get anything done, I tackle it now during the “it’s time to sit down” time. Peel the beets for another batch of kvass. Make a quick salad for tomorrow when I won’t have time. Do a few more loads of laundry. Sew another burp cloth or receiving blanket. I’d love to get the vacuuming done, but it’s too loud. I’d love to do my post-partum yoga but it’s too easy to prioritize other things. I’d love to sit down and craft or meditate or write, but the baby’s asleep and I need to catch a few winks while I can.
I journaled quite a lot when Iris was born, always addressing it to her as if in a never-ending love letter. Apart from announcing Julian’s birth, this is the first I’ve written down anything.
It’s not an easy time, but it sure is a precious one. Watching my beloveds love this new soul so completely. Watching him change daily as he gains both body weight and the tiniest patchwork pieces of life experience. Watching my own anxieties ebb bit by bit as I luxuriate in these short and precious days with a newborn.
The vacuuming can wait. The laundry can go unfolded. The pillows can stay on the floor.
His sweet double chin and those soft baby thighs show the first signs of weight gain, chunking up and doubling his cuteness. His little noises and the puppy-like breathiness are exquisitely audible to me even rooms away. His eyes are focusing further and he’s just starting to smile. Big cheeky smiles that put one precious dimple on his left cheek.
Oh, these first smiles are gift enough. Surely, I must be a sight in my open-mouthed love for him. It gushes forth, completely uncontainable, as I kiss him and mock-eat his sweet soft skin. It’s biological, I read. It’s supposed to be this way.
Yes, I’ll be the homemaker, the manager of all the tasks for now, the one who says thank you to my partner when he helps with everything he should help with – all in exchange for not missing these first smiles. For now, during this precious time, I will be this and do it all without pause.
For now, I don’t mind missing out on “it’s time to sit down” time one little bit.
(Published in the January 22 issue of the Warroad Pioneer)