I did a couple ‘day in the life’ posts about a year ago while I was on maternity leave. I was thinking I might try to make this a yearly thing to try to capture the everyday moments and the rhythms of my family life as it changes.
It’s 5:15 AM and Cogan is crying in his crib. I go to pick him up and bring him to our bed so we can cuddle him back to sleep. He wants to stroke my hair, which is annoying but sweet. I try to fall back to sleep for another half hour or so, but my alarm goes off at 6.
I go to the bathroom and wash my face. Then I go to the kitchen and pack my lunch and Cogan’s, then pour myself some Cheerios. I eat while checking facebook on the laptop on the dining room table. Then I go to the bathroom to put on makeup. I only have the patience to put on three products in the morning: foundation, eye shadow, and lipstick (balm stain). While I’m finishing that up, a little boy wanders into the bathroom. Cogan is up. He grins when he sees me and lifts his arms. I pick him up. David is right behind. I carry our boy to the high chair and strap him in. I give him his bottle of milk and put a handful of Cheerios on the tray while David scrambles some eggs for Cogan and himself. Then I get dressed and put Cogan’s and my lunches and bags in the car. When the boys are done eating, I change Cogan’s diaper and get him dressed while David hops in the shower. It’s not quite 7 yet, so I have a little time to just play with Cogan before I drop him off. We read 2 Elmo books and sing Old MacDonald.
I drive him to his babysitter, Marcy. I park and unstrap him from his car seat. “Are you ready?” I ask him. “Ready!” he repeats. When we go in the house, Cogan goes right over to baby Hudson in the bouncy seat and pats him on the head, saying “ahhh.” He waves his arm and says bye-bye. Walking back toward my car, I feel a sense of lightness. I know Cogan’s in good hands; I don’t have to worry about him, so I can focus on my day.
I arrive at school at about 7:30. I have an hour before school starts to plan, grade, and do last-minute prep work, like making copies. Students start arriving at 8, and sometimes they want attention too. My school is a nontraditional high school with an unusual schedule. We have 2 classes a day, 2 1/2 hours each, so that students can get a semester’s credit in 4-5 weeks. We’re also really lucky to have small classes. My first class is English III. We read a short story aloud together, and have a discussion about it. Then students have the second half of class to work on their research papers, a big assignment that we’ve been working on all term. I check up with each one and answer questions.
Lunch is from 11 to 11:45. A few students hang out in my room. I eat the same thing every day: yogurt, an apple, a banana, and a half turkey sandwich. My second class is Spanish. We have a lesson on the imperfect tense, then students work independently on translation assignments, writing assignments, or a project about different Spanish-speaking countries. Again, I rotate around, checking and supporting. We dismiss at 2:15 and there’s an hour for tutoring and planning.
I leave school at 3:15 and go home. I could pick up Cogan, and in fact it’s on my way. I did that when I first went back to work, but I found it made me more stressed, especially as his nap and feeding schedule changed. A year ago I wanted to pick him up ASAP so that we could nurse and he could take an evening nap at home. But now if I pick him up at 3:30, there’s a chance I could interrupt his one afternoon nap. And I have really come to value the 45 minutes I get alone in the house in the afternoon. I wind down by checking facebook, reading a couple articles online, grabbing a snack, changing out of my school clothes, and doing a chore or two, like unloading the dishwasher or starting some laundry. It’s sooo much easier to do that stuff without Cogan hanging on me. I used to feel guilty about taking this extra time for myself, rather than maximizing the time I spend with Cogan, but I realized I’m less distracted and irritable with him if I’ve had this little break.
4:30 is my time to leave the house and go get my baby. Sometimes the drive to pick up Cogan and the moments of anticipation on Marcy’s doorstep are my favorite moments of the day. Cogan smiles and says “mama” and runs to me with his arms up when he sees me. We have to say goodbye to his friends; he’s just learned to wave. “Keys?” he asks, as he grabs them from my hand. “Door” he says, pointing the key to my car door. I help him insert the key, then put him in his car seat.
The next couple of hours vary day to day. Three days a week I go to the gym. On Thursdays I have to get an allergy shot, so I have to skip my time at home between school and pickup. Sometimes we go to Kroger. Some people hate to grocery shop with kids, but I don’t mind taking Cogan with me. (Although I always park at the back of the lot so I can be close to a cart return because I’m paranoid about some busybody thinking I left my kid in the car when I’m just returning a cart.) When I have to pick up or return a book, we walk to the library.
We usually do have a good amount of time at home together in the afternoon, just me and my boy. Mostly I end up following and supervising while he plays with his toys. If I get bored watching him, I do a chore nearby, get out the camera to take pictures of him, and/or listen to an audiobook or podcast. He pushes the buttons on his toys to make music and dances, bouncing his knees and bobbing his head. He has a new thing where he wants to push the Swiffer all around the house. I thought “Score!” and tried to put the little paper on the bottom of it so he could clean my floors for me, but he wouldn’t let me. He takes it everywhere, even into the carpeted bedrooms. He’s also obsessed with our vacuum. And he won’t go anywhere without his little canister of “teerios.”
My favorite moment is when he hands me a book and climbs into my lap. Another thing I like to do is swing him in my arms and let him fall onto our bed. He loves it and even requests me to do it by saying “bed,” reaching for me to pick him up, and lying back in my arms to assume the position. Sometimes when I change his diaper, I shake my hair over his face and he giggles. He’ll stick his little fingers in my eyes and nose, saying the words.
Sometimes he goes to the door and says “outside.” If I’m too slow to open it for him, he goes over to me, takes my hand, drags me to the door, and puts my hand on the doorknob. Outside, he plays on his slide, pushes his stroller or his mower toy, or he follows our cat around the yard, giggling and trying to catch her. He also likes to sit in the front seat of our cars and push the buttons and climb all over the seats.
I feel like I’m not really capturing Cogan’s adorableness or how funny he is. He knows what he wants and has figured out all kinds of ways to show us what he wants. He’s saying a ton of words now. He’s very affectionate, especially with our cat, who tolerates him unbelievably well.
Soon after David gets home at about 5:30, we eat. Our dinners usually come from a crockpot I fix after Cogan’s in bed. We’ll eat the same dinner for 3 or 4 nights. That’s when David and I catch up with each other and share how our days went. Cogan lets us know he’s done by throwing his food on the ground. After dinner, we take a walk through our neighborhood and David and I have more time to talk. Cogan leans forward in the stroller, eager to see everything. We wave to all the dog-walkers. Then there’s just a little bit of playtime before Cogan’s bedtime at 7:30. I love to watch David and Cogan playing together. We’ll do almost anything to make him laugh and it doesn’t usually take much. The other night he was cracking up when we kept pushing a ball off the edge of the toy chest/coffee table and saying “crash!” At bedtime, David and I take turns giving him his bath. Then we put on pajamas and read a couple stories. He usually goes down pretty easy, and sleeps until 4 or 5 most nights.
After Cogan’s asleep, David and I finish cleaning up. Then we either watch a show together or play a video game together, or he plays a one-player video game while I read or write. Bedtime for me is 10 or 10:30; David comes to bed maybe an hour after that.