Josh keeps teasing me about why I don’t want my maternity leave to end. He thinks it has more to do with my enjoyment of the slovenly slide into slothville (aka daily robe-wearing) and my steady reliance on daily naps than it does with leaving our son behind. Of course, he also thinks it will be good for Dylan – that our childcare provider (a friend who runs her own in-home daycare), and the interaction with other children, can offer Dylan more stimulation and educational opportunities than just my love can provide. Without thinking, I vehemently disagreed on all points (which is usually my modus operandi: disagree first, acquiesce later). How dare he suggest that my love affair with maternity leave has anything to do with the avoidance of grading papers and/or having to look presentable each day! I love being home because I love our son. End of story. Hmpf.
A breath or two later…and I started thinking about all the things I do love about maternity leave beyond Dylan; after all, loving my time with him is a no-brainer, right? Right. So, I decided to make a list of all the things I’m going to miss about maternity leave (besides Dylan). And, in no particular order, here it is:
- Naps. Long, luxurious naps. I’m not even talking about the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” in a separate room thing. I’m talking about cuddling with my baby in our bedroom: Dylan snuggled right up against me, stomach to stomach. Fuzzy quiet afternoons, where silence rings throughout the house, above the click-clack of dog claws on the floors. Heavy, warm, blissful sleep. I love to smell his temples, and feel his little fingers curling around my thumb. If he fusses or wakes, I’m right there to soothe him. I can even nurse in my sleep. You can’t beat that for a productive 2pm on any day of the week.
- Yoga clothes: I think I’ve gone on, at length, about my love of yoga clothes, so I don’t need to belabor the point here. I will say, however, in defense of wearing yoga clothes even when you’re not on your way to the studio: don’t knock it before you try it. Do it. You’ll feel fit, even if you’re just walking to your mailbox. Mission accomplished.
- Talking to Rummy and Moose as if they’re Lassie: Go watch the baby, I tell them, when I need to run upstairs or change the laundry or whatever. Make Dylan stop crying. Go keep him company. Tell Dylan I’ll be right there. I keep thinking, one of these times they’re going to impress the hell out of me and walk in with Dylan on their back…but it hasn’t happened yet. Instead, they just stare at me, wagging their tails, like one of these days I might give them a walk again.
- The Fugitive: Yes, The Fugitive. You can always count on The Fugitive to be playing on Ion Television on a cold and rainy day. And it’s hard not to watch it, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. It’s just that good.
- Evening showers: When all else fails, and daytime showers have been out-of-reach for days, hot showers at the end of the night are where it’s at. I like to start my glass of wine before the shower, and finish it afterwards. Side note: this only works on days when I’ve had a nap, otherwise I risk falling asleep in the shower.
- Cookies: I’m not trying to rub it in anyone’s face and be like, “look at me – I’m a new mama and I bake!” (so don’t hate me just yet). I don’t bake often, and when I do, it’s either banana bread or Mrs. Fields chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. But I did bake recently: on Sunday, because I had Josh home all day to care for Dylan, and because I wanted to bring something to our new neighbors. The point is that they’re so delicious (I was out of vanilla, so I used Puerto Rican rum instead), that all I’ve eaten for the past three days is cookies. Cookies for breakfast. Cookies for lunch. Cookies for dinner. And you can do that when you’re on maternity leave, because you have more than 20 minutes for lunch and you don’t need to stave off the afternoon sugar crash; when it comes, you can just nap.
- Time to explore and create: as if the miracle of birth isn’t creative enough, in and of itself, maternity leave has allowed me time to play with my creativity. I have been able to read articles and scour websites and make imovies and write poems: all things I, otherwise, never feel I have time for.
Finally, the best thing about maternity leave, hands down – no matter what Josh says – has been my time with Dylan. And that is certainly what I will miss most of all.