Dutch is winding down his last days at work, filing some kind of motion tomorrow and then coasting through a few more days next week for a final paycheck, and that means that these are my last days home alone with Juniper. As I've looked back on the posts I've written since I started staying home with her in January, I realized that they often turned into outpourings of frustration with just how goddamn hard this job is. I don't regret any of that, but as my days as a stay-at-home mom have dwindled into the single digits, I have become wistful and unusually sentimental. The truth is that there are a lot of things I'm going to miss about this time of my life. Here are just a few of them:
- Every weekday morning, once she can no longer be persuaded to go back to sleep, Dutch stumbles out of our bedroom with Juniper, gently closing the door behind him. I can't tell you what they do during the next hour and a half, because I fluff the pillows, pull the blankets up, spread my arms and legs as far as they'll reach across the bed, and go back to sleep until 8:00 a.m. When it's time for Dutch to get in the shower, he brings Juniper back into the bedroom, lifts her above his head and swoops her down to me. I wake up to "Hi Mama!," and then, "Up! Mama, up!" At least a couple of times a week, I find a double nonfat latte waiting for me on the dresser.
- For the last six months, Juniper and I have gone to the YMCA most mornings. For the first several weeks that I took her to the Y's daycare, she wailed dramatically and rent her onesies apart like a silent-movie heroine when I made the tiniest motion towards putting her down on the floor. I refused to give up the promise of cheap daycare (I could give a shit about working out, but time by myself to read trashy magazines at the low-cost of $4/hr? I may as well sit on the stupid bike while I'm there). Eventually Juniper figured out that the Y's caregivers would read her as many books as she demanded without rolling their eyes and using a sarcastic tone of voice the way that I do when forced to read Runaway Bunny for the fifth time in two hours, and she stopped crying when I dropped her off. Then she started requesting "Y" and "babies" as soon as she woke up in the morning.
- After our trip to the Y, we come home and walk over to the corner coffee shop. I love watching as the intimidating, ambiguously gay, faux-hawked barista drops his attitude and clowns for her, playing peekaboo behind the cash register. Juniper always makes him work hard for her smiles, but after several minutes of funny noises and straws in his nose, she giggles for a few seconds before burying her face in my neck and plunging her hand down my shirt in flirtatious shyness.
- My favorite part of our days together, and the one that I will miss most, comes after I hear Juniper wake up from her nap. I usually spend a minute or two flying around the apartment in a vain attempt to begin the straightening up I'd meant to complete while she was sleeping, and then I walk into our darkened, shared bedroom. After pulling back the crooked bedsheet that hangs from a telephone cord strung between my closet and our window, I pick her up and she always burrows her forehead into my shoulder and lets out a tired whine. For at least fifteen minutes, she wants nothing to do with her dolls or books or animals, and instead whimpers while I hold her and she struggles to open her eyes.
- At the end of the day, when I'm playing on the floor with Juniper after she's eaten her dinner, I get to watch her during the moment she first hears her dad's key in the lock. Her entire body shivers with excitement for a moment before she takes off to squeal and propel herself in a stiff, toddler run towards the front door.