I woke up at 6.15 in the morning. My husband was about to leave for work. My son was screaming. “6.15 is too early… I can’t start the day at 6.15, Kroshka, please, go back to sleep.” He listened, we slept together till 7.30.
My day right now is not measured by hours and minutes. Instead, I use baby naps and wake times to define where in the course of the day I am. First wake time after the night sleep is for cuddles, getting washed and dressed, and breakfast.
Yesterday, I forgot to buy bread at the bakery by the house, so today in the morning I made oats with milk, then added a generous spoon of butter into it and honey too. When did adding butter and honey not help to make something good absolutely beautiful and divine?
My seven-month-old son, however, found it neither beautiful not divine. A teaspoon of oats and one quarter of a strawberry was all I managed to feed him until he started turning and twisting to get off my lap.
Usually, there’s not much I do during the first wake time, but today I baked broccoli and pressure cooked chickpeas all until 9.30.
Then came the first nap. I am trying to remember what I did during the nap, but I am totally blanking. One hour of my day and life completely gone from my memory.
After the first nap I was determined to stay productive. It was time for a daily walk, so I thought I’d stop by a coffee shop to get a cappuccino and then print the illustrations I commissioned over a month ago to decorate my apartment. And you know what happened? I did all that while Kroshka was nicely sitting in the stroller.
No, you don’t understand. My son doesn’t sit in the stroller for more than half an hour. And here I was strolling around town with my coffee and prints. Ok, I was only strolling on the way there. On the way back I was very much running while loudly reciting Russian poems to Kroshka. The unfinished coffee was spilling left and right from the cup set in the cup holder. The cup holder clearly wasn’t holding the cup very well or maybe the bumps were too bumpy, but I got that coffee on the stroller, my purse, and even Kroshka’s hat.
The amazing thing, though, is that I made it almost all the way home and had to take him out of the stroller only a block away. At that moment I thought the Moon must be in Aquarius today or the Sun in Virgo because how could everything go so smoothly? But that’s the trick with kids. One moment you feel like everything is under control, ten minutes later you want to scream into a pillow.
We usually lock the stroller at the basement of our apartment building so as not to carry it up and down four flights of stairs. If only it was as easy as it sounds. Instead of getting a separate lock for the stroller, for no particular reason whatsoever, we decided it would be a good idea to lock it to the wall hook together with my husband’s bike.
This is bad for two reasons. One: we already got a bike stolen and a stroller cut into two once. If it doesn’t make sense, the stroller was cut into two to remove the lock and steal the bike. So this is our second stroller and second bike, but because the second bike is rather cheap, we still keep locking everything together, hoping that no-one will want this bike anyway.
Reason number two is that the lock chain is nowhere long enough for two items, so I have to perfectly align the bike with the stroller and the hook in order to get everything secure. Doing that with one hand while holding a seven-and-a-half-kilo screaming baby in other one is close to impossible. However, I tried. And failed.
Then I put Kroshka back in the stroller which he did not appreciate. As my attempts to align the stupid stroller with the even stupider bike resulted in the bike handle getting way too close to Kroshka’s face, he tried to lick the handle at which point I had to pick him up again. When I started swearing in Russian I knew it was time to leave.
Upstairs, while breastfeeding, I sent a message to my husband: “We need a second lock”. I breathed in and out for fifteen minutes, then went down again and locked everything in place. Phew. And just like that it was time for the second nap.
I used one hour of the second nap to research developmental games for babies under one year old. It’s a thing and, apparently, I am a month late. According to some respected ladies on the internet my seven-month-old is supposed to put together a pyramid and place sticks into a tall glass one by one if I ask him.
Other activities include catching wooden fishes with a magnetic fishing rode and putting beads onto a string. As I only have a pyramid, I guess tomorrow’s nap time will be dedicated to online-shopping. Spoiler alert: I tried to show Kroshka how to take the rings off the pyramid, but all he was interested in was putting them into his mouth.
After the nap, I was supposed to feed Kroshka his lunch, then have a German class at 3 pm. That is in a perfect world. In the real world, lunch took over an hour. Half of that time was spent washing the dishes, the chair, the table, the floor, Kroshka and myself. Today was the very first time I put him in a high chair.
We have this thing in Russia that babies cannot be placed in a sitting position until they themselves learn how to sit. A week ago he finally sat, but I waited a bit longer until he stopped swaying. For the first time today I put him in the chair, placed some broccoli, meat and buckwheat in front of him (he is half Russian, after all), and he ate it all by himself. About two thirds of the food ended up missing his mouth, hence the washing, but what a milestone!
I was 40 minutes late for my German class on Skype, but, thankfully, my teacher is extremely understanding. She understands when I cancel last minute because Kroshka is teething, when I run away for ten minutes during the class in order to change him, and even when I breastfeed on camera.
On weekdays, when my husband is at work, we have several classes just to chitchat. There’s not much else I can do with a baby crawling around. Then on Sundays, we have one class to learn grammar. Today we talked for an hour and I told her my stroller-bicycle story in German. I am rather proud of both my determination to learn the language and the progress I’ve done so far.
After German I had a chat with mom, and then it was time for the third nap. I spent the hour looking for sustainable toys. If you don’t count the plastic deodorant bottle and a pack of baby wipes, both of which somehow found their way into my son’s toy basket, the rest of his toys are all made of natural materials.
He has a rubber bunny and an elephant from Sri Lanka, a few fabric toys from my beloved Barefoot, and a bunch of wooden rattles from Russia. The advantage of having a seven-month-old is that he doesn’t get to pick his toys. I choose them relying solely on my aesthetics and unrealized childhood dreams. I am terrified of the times when he’ll be begging for ugly plastic cars in the window cases of toyshops.
After the last nap of the day I cleaned the apartment a bit: washed whatever dishes I had in the sink, put the toys away, vacuumed. Then I made dinner using the broccoli and chick peas I had cooked in the morning. Then I sat on the couch and watched my son play on the mat. I waited for my husband to return from work, feeling very much like an American housewife from 1950s.
The stark difference between me and a 50’s housewife would be my own appearance, though. I didn’t get to dress up and curl my hair, in fact, I didn’t even get to take a shower today. I looked cute, though, or so I want to think. My dark green cotton pants end above ankle. I found them at H&M, not very sustainable of me, but they looked way too comfy. Their best feature is the elastic at the waist. I call them my apartment pants, and if you love Friends as much as I do you’ll know what I am talking about. The top was from Puma. It’s short, grey, and has 3/4 sleeves.
My hair was pulled up in a top-knot which had become my go-to hairstyle lately. I’ve been using the same four hair pins every day for the past seven months to make it. I like to think that hair pins are classier than elastic ties, and so my top knot is also classy by extension.
Anyways, I was sitting on the couch, waiting for my husband and thinking how perfectly I managed to finish everything up just before his arrival. And then I thought that when he opens the door and sees a tidy apartment, a cooked dinner, his son playing on the mat, and me on the couch, he’d think that’s what my day looked like: chilling with the baby in a perfectly clean house with food simmering away on the stove.
By contrast, if he were to come back to a messy house, a screaming baby and me with a frantic expression on my face, it would give him a better idea of what the past 12 hours were like.
I once read a quote that you cannot see when a woman does the job, you can only see it when she doesn’t. For a second there, I wanted to throw the toys around. Then I reminded myself that today was my husband’s first day at the office after four months of quarantine that he spent right by my side, taking care of our baby, washing the dishes, and grocery shopping.
He came home around 7.30 pm which meant I got half an hour of free time while he was playing with Kroshka. Although “free” is relative when you are a parent. I used half an hour to finish dinner, prep the bedroom, and stare into my phone for five minutes. Then it was time for the night sleep… Well, no. First, it was time to put Kroshka to sleep which took an hour. Then I briefly considered going to sleep myself, but that Jupiter in Pisces was pushing me out of bed. The day was going too smoothly not to use this opportunity and do some work.
I got out of bed and started editing a video of me making pelmeni that I delayed for at least three weeks. I finished it. The time was 11pm. I had one more hour to squeeze everything I could out of this unbelievable day. I started writing a newsletter.
I hadn’t sent one in one and a half years. Since my last newsletter I got pregnant and didn’t tell anybody, I made Dominique Ansel’s banana bread with 400 grams of sugar, I had a baby, I cooked and ate local and seasonal food for two months, I went to Italy for the first time, and I wrote my most popular post on the blog about evil Russians. How do you describe everything that happened in the past eighteen months in a newsletter? You don’t.
Instead, I set out to describe only one day, today. Half way through I realized that a thousand words about one mama’s random day is a lot to take in for someone leisurely checking email. I decided I’d add another thousand and post it on the blog. With that realization, I closed my laptop and went to sleep. The day was the 7th of July 2020.
P.S. It took me 6 days to write the other half of this post. Talk about the Venus in Capricorn.
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