When the Days Are Long, Again (#289)

There’s a common phrase about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.”

The days ARE long when you have a baby. Especially when you have a baby that only takes a half-hour nap. And when you have a non-napping child and no handy relatives to help?

A day feels equal to a year.

When your baby is sick?

A day feels like a century.

Even with an occasional babysitter, Baby D and I were usually outside by 4 PM, waiting on the steps for Daddy to come home. Baby D thought it was because we loved Daddy. But really, it was because I literally could not wait another second to hand him off to someone else.

Any stay-at-home parent knows exactly what I mean. You judgey fuckers who think staying home is easy and going to work is hard? You have clearly never parented a child without stuffing them in a playpen or parking them in front of a screen. I’ve worked for/ with some of the most demanding assholes in Hollywood. I would rather spend an entire week at the American Film Market fending off Harvey Weinstein’s acquisition phalanx (yes, I did that) than one day with Baby D when he was sick or teething.

I cracked one day when Andy moaned about how hard work was.

I asked, “Does your boss scream at you every time you don’t guess his needs in advance? And does he do this ten times a day? Has he bitten your nipples? Does he throw things at you when you do something he doesn’t like, except he doesn’t tell you what he does like? Does your boss follow into the bathroom? Does he poop, puke, or pee on you? Did he hit you in the eye with Toby the Tank Engine? Does he give you more than one half-hour break? Is your workday from 5 AM until 4-5 PM? No? Then you can take a goddamned seat.”

Andy meekly took that seat, especially after one short trip alone with Baby D.

The days were long. Sometimes the years were also pretty damned long. I took deep breaths and reminded myself that each challenging phase of Baby D’s life was not forever.

When Baby D screamed and pummeled his crib during sleep training, I murmured, “Only two more years until preschool. Then I will have three whole hours to myself almost every day.”

When tantruming three-year D kicked and hit the door I held shut, I chanted, “Just 2 more years until kindergarten. Then I will have five whole hours alone. Just two more years.”

When kindergartener D howled, “You don’t love me, YOU NEVER LOVED ME OR CARED ABOUT ME,” and broke his closet door because I would only let him watch two episodes of The Clone Wars, I whispered, “Next year, he will be in school for six whole hours. SIX!”

Long days of Nerf

When my kid insisted on endless summer Nerf Wars (while throwing a fit if any of my shots actually landed), I thought, “Just a few more years until I can put him in Junior Life Guards for half the summer!” Then I shot him in the butt.

When D whined and complained about the 1.25 mile uphill walk to school, I muttered, “Just 5 more years until middle school. He can walk himself! And I will have seven hours! Seven glorious hours with no immediate demands or whining or tantrums!”

And now?

Now we have coronavirus and an utterly botched response by the Trump administration.

There is no school.

There will be no summer programs.

My child and I are together again for the foreseeable future.

Just like working parents who never planned on working from home and their children. Those folks are discovering the joys of having their kids 24-7; the noise, the constant demand for attention, the fights over screen time, the fights over exercise, the fights over bedtime, the fights over homework, the fights over food.

There is no escape, parents.

Welcome to the long days.

Welcome to a world where each month is an eternity.

Take a deep breath and repeat after me:

“Just one more year until they find a vaccine.
Just one more year…”

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “When the Days Are Long, Again (#289)”

  1. When my boys were little I used to love Monday mornings. Everyone else at work (either men or much younger than I) would whine about how hard it all was and I’d just laugh and say nope, work is the easy part of my life. Work is my vacation.

  2. My one nephew was a very trying child. I have always sworn that he is the reason I am childless. I was never the aunt who wanted to take him places because…well…tantrums. Now he is 50 and a minister. No resemblance to the kid so there is hope in the end.

  3. My job definitely feels like a holiday, compared to weekends when I am on baby duty full time, haha. I honestly don’t know how my in laws don’t go bat crazy. And well, my son for the moment is quite manageable, he wakes up at around 8 am, takes his nap and is pretty well behaved. The terrible twos are approaching though… I’m already stocking up on positive discipline parenting books to get ready for the tantrums and it all!

    I do hope there’s only one year until they find a vaccine!! Stay strong!!

  4. I wish there was something soothing I could say to you. A feel-good bromide of pithiness, but there is none that I know of. This new world is a difficult one, especially for parents. At least you can write about what’s going on, that is something positive… maybe?

    1. I’m actually coping well by reminding myself that at least he’s older now. There are video games and he does have zoom classes, which he is good about attending. He definitely pushes back on exercise and screen time regulations, but it is so much better than having a baby or a toddler or a preschooler or a kindergartener! I’ve got friends/ sisters with younger kids, and that is much, much more difficult.

      I think I’ve only lost my shit with the cat so far. Yay?

  5. This is a hard time. I hope it won’t go on too long. I can see how one child might be harder than two or three. My three daughters were born very close together (within four year), and in some ways that was hard. For the most part, though, it was easier. They played together, so I didn’t have to play with them. I liked to read to them or teach them things or take them for a walk. But when you’re an adult, it’s no fun to be a playmate. My husband was good at that. Not I.

  6. I feel for you. After my divorce, my ex and I shared custody every other week. Those weeks with the kids often felt like years (and the kid-free weeks passed in the blink of an eye). GOOD LUCK.

    Also, you say “does your boss bite your nipples” like it’s a BAD thing…

  7. Corona virus pretty much destroyed all my plans. I literally took my former life for granted. Now it’s a reminder on why I shouldnt: I could always take my monkey to the library, I could take him to a farm, or even playgrounds so he could get his energy out and play with others. Now, we can’t go anywhere or do anything. I am lucky that my parents help me out though. But I feel bad for my son. He was just starting to enjoy being with other kids and now I feel helpless that I can’t do anything for him. I also don’t have close friends or anything like that.

    1. Oh, we all took our former options for granted.

      We took a competent government for granted, too.

      I wonder if folks will learn anything, or if our memories again be short.

      I’m sorry you don’t have any close friends. That sounds pretty lonely.

  8. Wow, you have my sympathies — I know my friend who has two young kids at home was also going crazy with them. She had to balance working from home and watching them at the same time (b/c her husband, also working from home, doesn’t care to look after their kids much…no words).

    1. Every so often–like yesterday and the day before, I have to insist that Andy take Baby D off for a walk, or a bike ride, or something and not come back for an hour.

      It helps. But yeah, women with kids get the majority/ all of the childcare labor, even the ones who are working. I feel for your friend.

      Why even have a child, if you aren’t going to be involved in their lives?

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