Dear Baby Daddy: (This is not directed at a black man. My baby daddy is a white dude)
This is how my day started. At approximately 4:03 a.m., my youngest cat (I only own two, relax cat-haters), decided it was time for me to wake up. I ignored for as long as I could until my six-month-old daughter also heard her cries. When the baby started to cry, it was all over. I got up, picked up the baby and brought her to my bed where I tried to make her sleep for an hour while the cat cried intermittently outside my bedroom door. By 5:06 a.m., it was all over. Mama had to get up.
I really wanted to shower. Lord knows I needed one. I had a good, long one yesterday because the baby actually slept for the 6.5 minutes I shampooed, scrubbed and soaped up the day before—totally luxury. Most of my showers must be completed in a two-minute window these days lest I incur the wrath of the small human I birthed. Today, a shower would be out of the question. After making the baby’s bottle, I fed the cats and sat down on the sofa to feed the little screaming person. A few minutes after feeding her six and a half ounces, she erupted like a tiny, cute volcano and I had to change from the carefully-chosen work outfit I’d picked out the night before into whatever I could scrape together from the clean laundry in the dryer. I prayed it would all match.
By the time the baby was fed, I realized I still had not washed the makeup off my face from the night before. Yeah, I sometimes forget this step when collapsing from exhaustion. As a dude, you don’t have even the slightest clue as to what I’m talking about. My face washing has slipped to once a day in the past six months. Not that you care. You’re sleeping with an entirely new woman who is not only young, but also doesn’t have another human being to care for on top of herself. I got myself out of my sopping wet, formula-covered clothes and rushed to finish getting myself ready for work.
After putting makeup on my sweaty, rushed face (I know you wonder why I would bother, but do I have to remind you that I am single and need to meet someone nice?), I still needed to flat-iron my frizzy hair. By the time I was finished it was 6:53 a.m. and I needed to brew a quick cup of coffee in the Keurig and fly out the door. FYI: Never question my devotion to my coffee-maker. It doesn’t just warm me up on a cold, rainy day (like today), it fills me with caffeine-fueled motivation that helps me swerve my way through downtown Baltimore, a city with too many bad drivers and way too many buses (we have paid and FREE buses that run downtown. Really? Is this necessary at rush hour?). Every step of the way, I am timing my minutes and counting the miles. I calculate that I will definitely be at least three-minutes late to work. I’ve only worked this job for one-month and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I pray to GOD I don’t lose it because of my inability to be there on-time.
Today’s commute was pretty dicey. Between the very heavy rain and the stupid drivers, I’ve already suffered through three heart attacks and possibly one aneurism. Should I tell you about the dude in the white Jeep who came up behind me going way above the safe speed limit with his/her high-beams on? He/she was came up on me so fast, all I could see was a tiny white coffin at our baby daughter’s funeral. Did he/she NOT see the “Baby on Board” sign hanging ominously in my back window? I’m guessing not.
I really LOVED the white car who found it necessary not only to tailgate me for seven minutes, but to also jump in front of me. Did I mention they had NO LIGHTS ON? This car blended into the road in front of me, so I slowed down to protect them and me (and our kid) so we wouldn’t all die in a fiery crash, albeit in the rain, at some later time. I had two goals this morning. Goal one: get the baby to daycare alive. Goal two? Get to work on-time (being alive was optional). FYI: I was five-minutes late. My kind manager didn’t give me hell. I am grateful.
Here’s what went down before I got to work. After making it over the first of two drawbridges I have to make it over, I didn’t see all the water on the road. In my rush to get to the job on time, I almost went off the road twice. There were so many pools and puddles on the road; I did my best not to have an accident. This was all kid-motivated. I really don’t care what happens to me, but my daughter is EVERYTHING.
After watching my assistant turn into our work road, I knew I’d be at least three-minutes late to work. She turned off to our employment; I had 3.5 more miles to go to drop off our kid. I’m not complaining, but some of the people who live/work in the community where I work are…jerks. There are those who go uber-fast because they don’t know better and are maybe afraid of being late. But the worst offenders are the “community regulators” who feel like they can control the driving of others by going super-slow and stopping on a dime, even in the rain, to prove how important they are. For the record…they suck!
I was happy to make it into daycare at 7:47. This meant I’d be only two-minutes late to work and not the five I’d feared. After turning down Johnson Avenue, I still had to traverse the steep hill with no hand supports to my daughter’s daycare. Yes, I did it. But it wasn’t easy. I’d like to beg my daycare mom for two things, hand supports to her porch and a slightly-reduced rate for my kid next-year, but the more important thing is making it onto her porch. I still believe you, Dagne’s father, should have NO problem helping me deliver our daughter to safe, kind, wonderful daycare.
FYI: There is NOT much you can do to cover a rain storm when you are taking a baby to daycare. I did cover my daughter as much as I could, but this rain has been hard and oppressive. So I did what I could and dealt with the rest (FYI: for baby daddy this meant your daughter getting wetter than either of us would/could have anticipated—so please don’t be a jackass, I covered her and did what I could.)
So, up the rain-drenched hill I trudged. No slight to my daycare mom or her husband, but for someone with a disability, navigating your hill every morning is tough-enough. Now that you’ve covered said hill in water (and possibly snow tomorrow), I die a little each time I have to fight my way into your house. Thankfully, I know how kind and loving you are towards my daughter (so unlike the last daycare provider we had). Still, papa don’t preach. You don’t have my DAILY struggles to get to work on time and get to daycare on time. So please don’t tell me how perfect my life is.
Tonight, Stephanie had our daughter in litter exersaucer. All I want for our daughter’s Christmas is a solid mattress for her crib, but also a nice exer-saucer. I really like the Fischer-Price sea-themed one; this week, I have NO extra cash. Next week, I might have a little extra and I really want to buy a Christmas tree for our baby. I will decorate it with Dollar-store stuff, but all I really care about is giving her a sweet first Christmas. It does NOT have to be perfect. She is still so young, so a few gifts, chosen wisely, is more than enough. Heck, I expect her to play with the boxes more than anything.
When we finally made it home (some hour and twenty-plus minutes later), I took our little baby into my arms from her car seat and simply cuddled her. Sure the cats wanted their dinner, but Dagne is my number-one. I ignored my need to pee for more than an hour. I fed the kid, cuddled and kissed her, fed the kitties, then finally took a two-minute break when all were sated. Still I felt like more was to be done.
Last week, for instance, Dagne’s pediatrician made me feel like a bad mom for letting my baby sleep too much overnight. Well…everything I’ve read since then vindicates me, but if my doctor insists that waking my daughter in the middle of an 11-hour sleep to feed her is the best way, I think I’m going to fire him. My kid doesn’t sleep well by day, but if she gets a solid 11 at night, I am not feeling bad. She needs it.
For now, this new mom is exhausted and deeply in need of extra-sleep. So I’m closing down and shutting up. And for all you single fathers who think your baby’s mama is lazy, week or just bitching way too much, just remember, they are doing the best they can. And you’re only there a few hours a week. And while we feel bad for your aching back, you don’t give a shit about our aching back, arms, neck and knees that carry your kid out into the world and back every day safely. You think we complain too much. Well, you just don’t know. And you know what? As your kid’s long-suffering mama who loves her more than life itself, I don’t give a flying fuck.