Looking out of the living room window, I used to see a research building.
Now I see several large trees and a kindergarten.
And that pretty much sums up the change in my life. So before SB turns
ten eleven months, I’ll try to write a post about how I’m doing.
I’ll start with the physical part because that’s the easy one. At about six months postpartum, I was wondering whether there was any truth to the rumor of breastfeeding helping you lose weight. Because there was still quite a bit of it. Granted, I wasn’t – still am not – eating like someone who wants to drop a few pounds (they make delicious pastries here!). Somehow, and without any changes I’m aware of, between 6 and 9 months that weight did fall off. I’m back to my weight from before this pregnancy – not before the twins, and that might take some actual effort (and fewer pastries). But most of my clothes fit now, which is a good start. I also had a “strange” feeling in my vagina for months after giving birth, on and off, usually when walking. I never bothered to ask anyone about it, but it seems to be gone for the most part, too. Whether it was dryness or low muscle tone (I’m lazy with my kegels) or something else I probably won’t find out.
The emotional part is more complicated. On the one hand I absolutely love the extra time I’ve had with SB in the last months, especially as it coincided with her becoming so much more (inter)active. And of course I’m glad I was/am there for her to navigate all these new situations. Sometimes we go to the playground and there’s sunshine and everything is awesome. Other times, though, I feel awfully unproductive. Today SB slept for a whopping 20 minutes in the morning, and another 20min in the afternoon. That just isn’t enough to get all the moving-related things done, prepare meals, and keep the house clean “on the side”. Let alone ME time. H is a bit overwhelmed with his new job and feels a lot of pressure being the sole breadwinner – in a way he’s more keen on me finding a new job soon than I am. He also, let’s be honest, has never been particularly eager to help with household tasks. We’ll need to have a serious conversation about the distribution of these before I start working again.
On the other hand I do miss adult interactions (being in a new country and not speaking the language doesn’t help with that). I could really relate to Amber’s post. I used to silently scoff at women who were so defined by their job and had to talk constantly about how important they were for their establishment. Well, eating my words. I’ve found it a lot harder to do without this external validation than I anticipated.
I think parenting a young child is so all-consuming, it’s hard to even imagine that before experiencing it. It simply doesn’t leave a lot of time for oneself. SB is playing independently for longer periods of time now, if the conditions are right*, which helps. I’ve also been going to a language class, and it is really refreshing for me to have a few hours to myself, and to feel like I could actually get something done (grammar exercises – check) and talk to new, interesting people. In the meantime, H and SB could experience some quality bonding time – or, alternatively, sometimes H got to experience how much attention his daughter wants.
I used to have a job that I loved and wanted to find a good situation here. Part-time sounds great but seems to be rare. However, the culture is very focused on making sure that there is enough time for family/hobbies. At 4pm the playground is full of parents with kids on the way back from work/kindergarten/school. So I’m hoping to find a good equilibrium. The new job sounds very interesting and I’m excited about starting there. Obviously “job” isn’t the same as “me-time”, but maybe I can find some on the commute. And doing something else, which I also love, should help with feeling more balanced.
And yet: SB is starting kindergarten on Monday and I think she’s more ready than me. (We stopped by today, and she cried when we left.)
I feel pulled in so many directions and may need to accept that there is no perfect solution. But I’m hoping we are on a way to a good solution for our little family.
* Having had enough sleep, enough food and a clean diaper. We learned this in my childbirth class, and I was a little embarrassed to realize that I had missed something so straightforward (after all, I’m happier when I’m well-rested, fed and clean, too).