Baby smiles make things better

By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]

Since returning to work a month ago I have not done a column. There are multiple reasons for that. One is time, and I’m always short on that, it seems. Another is being able, or unable, to nail something down to write about.

Some days there is not a thing in my head worth sharing, not even enough to fake it, really. Other days there is too much going on in that space between my ears.

There’s a lot in my head today. It’s Election Day, but all I can bring myself to say about that is thank the good Lord that will be all over in a very short time. I’m also thinking a lot about a special person in my life that recently passed away, but I’m just not ready to dive into that quite yet.

Then there are the constant thoughts on how everything has gotten shifted around in my life and my family’s lives to accommodate the newest Shepherd — Shepherd number five. Since baby, it’s all gone a bit topsy-turvy, even wonky at times. Those thoughts I can share.

I’m not new to motherhood, but since the birth of my second daughter just four months ago, this all feels pretty new.

I’m tired, more tired than I ever thought a human person could be and still keep going. Some days I don’t know how I keep moving, thinking and functioning but by the grace of God.

We have managed to squeeze an extra person into our tiny little home, not to mention all her stuff, and we are quite cozy there, despite every inch being taken up with someone’s something or other.

I still look at my husband and, with genuine wonder, say “We have a baby.” We’ve had almost a whole year to get used to the idea of a baby, and still it catches me by surprise when I see that sweet little face look up at me.

I can’t think of the last time I got to sleep through the night, and I feel it in every inch of my body and every corner of my soggy brain.

Coming back to work has tested my mettle, to say the very least. I’m still trying to figure out where everything goes and how it all fits.

Quality time with the family these days is me drooling on my chest because I’m slumped over, having dozed off again as I try to watch one TV show. (It took me two weeks to watch one episode of “New Girl.”)

My time management has been put to the test, too.

I had a million (no kidding) things I wanted to get done around the house while I was on maternity leave, and got nothing crossed off that list. I had completely forgotten how demanding a little bundle of joy can be. But since her birth, I have learned to give myself a break already. Those chores aren’t going anywhere, but her infancy is slipping by each day and I try to drink in every moment.

I had forgotten about how a baby’s stubborn burps come back to haunt you. I had forgotten about how easy it is to cry when you are so weary you don’t know how your legs are holding you up. I had forgotten about how making dinner could take all day because the little one keeps interrupting.

Forgetful to begin with, in my ever-present foggy state of mind that forgetfulness has reached new highs, or lows, depending on one’s perspective, I guess.

Oh well. It is what it is.

I am finding that this time around this old mom is a bit more laid back about it all. If I don’t get to sleep, so what? I’ll have a cat nap on the couch while I’m trying to watch the newest “Big Bang Theory.” After all, how many chances am I going to get to drink in those 2:30 a.m. smiles from that little girl?

If I learned anything at all during the younger years of my now 9-year-old, is that the time of being an infant passes too quickly. Being the center of that tiny human’s universe doesn’t last all that long, so I’m going to take it while I’ve got it.

I’ve had to change some things around to make life work, and to protect myself from coming completely undone. Even with the changes, the rearranging, I am still a work in progress. And that is OK.

I’m not complaining. As a matter of fact, I don’t have anything to complain about, only blessings to count. I am blessed beyond measure. And, as I wrote in my last column before going on maternity leave, my cup runneth over.

Some simple lessons I have become reacquainted with recently:

• Diaper changes in the middle of the night when one is not fully awake can be tricky. (There were a couple times that, come morning, I found that I hadn’t even fastened the blasted thing. One time, I had not bothered to remove the soiled diaper, just put the new one over it.)

• Sometimes, when you can’t calm the baby, calm the mommy, baby will follow suit.

• Falling asleep in the recliner with a baby snuggled into your chest is good stuff.

• Stumbling through the house in the wee, small hours leaves a mark every single time.

• Baby smiles make everything better.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]