Audrey is in her Ultra-Saucer and happy. (Thank God for the Ultra-Saucer.) This gives me a second to get her laundry out of the dryer. I come back and to my relief, Audrey is still cooing away. Do I have time enough to fold the laundry right there? Sure! Time enough to change a lightbulb? Why not? The respite ends and she starts getting bored and whiny. So I lift her out and begin carrying her around.
But I'm running out of time. I need to send out a birthday card to my mother, and it must make the 4 p.m. mailbox pickup, which means we might as well have an outing and go somewhere for her 4:30 meal. So I have a lot to do before we go, and with Audrey in tow it's not so easy. I find it's impossible to sign, address, and stamp a birthday card while carrying and amusing a 6-month-old baby who can't sit by herself and hates lying down. (The Ultra-Saucer is no longer an option; she's been there, done that.)
We get through it somehow; she whimpers on her activity mat as I fill in the card. All the while, I'm talking to her: "Okay, Audrey!! We're wishing Grandma a happy birthday! And we're including little wallet-size pictures of you with Mommy and Daddy!! What do YOU think? Do THESE stamps look nice?" But Audrey can clearly smell my desperation; it's primal. And she is officially cranky.
We'll need some food for our outing, so I try to make a bottle with Audrey tucked under one arm. But I can't do it one-handed like my wife does; I'm just not that good yet. So I have to put her down, which makes her furious, even though I'm doing the funny dance that normally makes her smile.
Once I'm done, Audrey notices that the bottle isn't going in her mouth, but in the diaper bag. To add insult to injury, I'm stuffing her into her snowsuit, which she despises. By the time she's strapped into her stroller, she's officially wailing. But as soon as we get outside, she becomes interested in the world around her. I smooch her tummy. She giggles. All is forgiven. And we make it to the mailbox in time.
I finally get what stay-at-home moms say about not knowing where the time goes. Naptime is my most frantic (and coveted) time, my only chance to clean the house or pay bills. And the list never gets shorter. The chimney cleaner comes -- hooray, he's off the list! -- only to announce that the flue that connects the boiler to the chimney needs fixing. Oh no! Yet another onerous chore on the never-ending list!
Three days into my little adventure, I realize that I have only made it through the first stage of stay-at-home parenting: Not allowing the baby to die. I have yet to work on the finer points, like figuring out the chores and working around the needs of a small person who can't walk or speak English.