Bug,  Shop Talk,  the laundry

airing out my laundry

I should change the name of this blog to “Tales from the Laundromat”.

Really there’s nothing new on the laundromat front, thankfully. It’s just that we were there yesterday and I thought Baby Bug looked cute in the laundry basket. I could only keep her in the baby carrier for so long while I was folding all the clean clothes. I thought my back was going to break. This motherhood thing is back breaking.

I saw another mother there with a thirteen-month-old. We chatted for a little bit and she eyed the parasite-baby growing out of my chest enviously. She said she tried to fit her baby in the carrier one last time before they came to the laundromat and he just wouldn’t fit. By the looks of her long face, I take it that doing laundry while trying to keep a thirteen-month-old happy is a lot more difficult than carrying around a ten pound three-month-old attached to your chest. I have a grim future ahead of me.

I’m struggling lately. Not so much with the baby… (although, who stole my happy quiet baby and replaced her with the yelling baby? Can you please bring her back, stat?) but more so with the million mile long list of things I want to do and can’t. My freelance work is killing me. All the clients I got rid of before the baby, by referring them to somebody else, have all come back to me saying my referral artist just isn’t good enough. That’s great for my ego but the work load is just impossible. And maybe I should do better research before I go referring people.

The thing that really gets me is that all the work I’m getting is fun, easy work and easy money. If I wasn’t a full time mom, I’d whip it out in no time. But add a baby to the mix and I’m slower than a snail trudging through molasses. Baby Bug only takes so many naps a day and at least one of those naps has to be spent blogging, right?

I know a bunch of you are going to say, why don’t you ask Toby to help? Or what about your mother-in-law or hiring a babysitter? Well, here’s the rub. When I decided I wanted to be a mom, I decided I really wanted to be a mom in the biggest way. The good and the bad and the never-ending-ness of it. Toby and I made an agreement that I would be the major care-giver ALL of the time. No daycare, no babysitters (other than grandma) and no every other-night-you-watch-the-kid-so-I-can-take-a-shower. That’s just the way things work in our marriage. I knew what I was getting into long before I even got married and way way way long before we ever started trying to have kids. So what I’m basically saying is I made my bed and now I have to lie in it and I’m stupid to be complaining about it on my blog. (Like that’s going to stop me.)

The mother-in-law thing was working great but Baby Bug has turned into the shrieker lately and she’s getting heavy for her grandma’s frail arms. Her grandma loves her oh-so-very-much but she’s just a little too much for her. I spend a lot of my time rescuing Grandma from Baby Bug. It’s easy to deal with a baby crying when you are holding them but when somebody else is holding them in the next room over, it feels like your finger nails are getting peeled backwards. The babysitter thing just isn’t going to work unless I leave the house and the baby. But that doesn’t fit into my pre-baby agreement I made with Toby. Baby comes first, work comes second. And there will be no escaping to Starbucks just to earn a few extra bucks.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew Toby wouldn’t be able to help me. Toby has his own business that takes up 80% of his day. The other 20% is taken up with him trying to get over his 80% work day. We don’t have weekends here. Saturday and Sunday are work days too. Not to be all stuck in the 50’s but Toby needs a wife who will cook and clean and not hand him the baby when he’s trying to decompress from shooting the house that belongs to the owner of Broadcom. We have a crazy life. This is just the way it is. Everybody has a simple solution that they think will fix everything for us but the reality is that we have to make our way to those solutions in our own slow and exasperating way.

I knew I’d have to put my career on the back burner. The error I made is that I didn’t know how hard it would be for me to turn my back on it. I guess I keep secretly thinking I can do it all and be so successful that Toby will have to start taking my business seriously and he’ll be okay with me hiring a babysitter now and then. But I have to do it all secretly because of our agreement. I promised. I made a deal. This is my life. This is what I get in exchange for getting to take long walks on the beach every day.

The problem with my secret plan on becoming successful behind Toby’s back is that the money is just not coming in as fast as the work is. I can’t let him know that I’m bursting at the seams. On top of all my clients who just won’t go away, I do some work for Toby’s clients too. And I’m a mom and a full time housewife with a house that is falling down and a landlady who is crazy. I just don’t know how I can keep it up.

Then fun things come along like making mermaid tails and developing a website to sell them just in time for Halloween. How can I say no to a fun idea like that? I’ve already gotten a few requests without even advertising a peep about it. When I tell Toby about my fun mermaid tail idea he gets mad at me and calls it my “arts and crafts crap”. (Except he uses a different word and the only reason I don’t type that other word on this blog is because I’m thinking of you, Mom and you, Aunt Kathy up in Canada who don’t like to think of your little Brenda using potty language.) In a way he’s right. I am a mother and that is my most important job of all time. But stopping all the fun jobs that come along is like cutting out part of my heart. I love making things. It’s who I am. And yes, a happy mom is a good mom. So somehow I’m going to have to do it all or figure out what to do and what not to do.

Anybody need some freelance graphic design work? Send me an url to your online portfolio.


  • Matthew Miller

    Y’know, prior agreement or not, now that the baby is here, you might want to reevaluate a little bit. At the very least, you need one evening a week where you can do whatever you want without having to worry about anyone else. This isn’t just “need a break” — it’s a requirement for basic mental health.

    And while obviously your husband’s work is very important to him, clearly his daughter and wife are too. Since our little one was seven months old or so, I’ve been taking her to the local (awesome) Children’s Museum one night a week. This has turned into a very special fun bonding time for us, and has the side effect of giving my poor wife a breather — she can knit, or go out with friends, or whatever.

    I don’t mean to be just proposing yet another “simple solution that they think will fix everything for us”. In fact, I think it’s *not* simple — I think you just plain have to reevaluate, and I know doing so will be some work. And by you, I mean both of you. Your original plan may be a “fair deal”, but to be blunt, it sounds unrealistic and not good for you or ideal for your child. You need a new one.

  • jane

    I think you’re too hard on yourself. You made an agreement but agreements can be tweaked a bit. If you enjoy working and being a mother I don’t see why there’s no reason you can’t do both. Yes, I just read your long post about how it’s hard to do both. I’m not saying that Toby is completely hands off but the picture you paint makes it sound like he is. I also get the sense that you make excuses so that you can feel better about your agreement. I’m not sure that’s necessarily healthy for Baby-Bug. Maybe 10% of Toby’s 20% off he can watch her. I live with a freelancer too and I understand how hard it is to get everything done…Saturday’s, Sunday’s and Holidays don’t exist in my house either…so this isn’t coming from someone who doesn’t understand.
    Just my 2 cents, you can tell me to shove it. I enjoy your blog. Jane

  • gigi

    even though i only know you through what you write on this blog, i experience you as very amazing and wonderful. you deserve to find the balance you are seeking. it’s ok to re-evaluate, reassess and modify. in fact, it’s frequently necessary. sending many good thoughts to you.

  • Irene

    Sean and Will are 4 years old now. and my husband and I are still reevaluating our agreements EVERY DAY. and I have to remind him at least once a week that I have a job too!

    I know other people here are going to give you great advice. I just want to tell you that I think you’re an amazing artist and that you should allow yourself some time to find balance in your life. and don’t worry, you will find it.

    ps: I’m thinking about tossing the washing machine!!!

  • comfortablycrazy

    Mom and I will come in and watch baby bug for you so you can go out or work. And there’s no charge. We’d be happy to help. I heard you may have a job this week that needs a few extra arms for carrynig a certain little pteradactyl. Mom aned I can both come in, with no circus attached. They get to stay behind, with Daddy, at Telly’s.

  • nina

    Your time with Baby Bug brings back sweet memories of my own little girl (no way on earth can it be 20 years ago!). Before the baby, I worked six days a week. My husband worked, often going as long as six weeks without a day off, grad school at night. Our little one arrived and my schedule changed and my husband’s didn’t. When reading your posts it brings it all back- how much TIME babies take! My husband dearly loves his children, but he wasn’t very involved during the baby years. He had a blast with the kids when they were school age and beyond, but babies just weren’t his thing.
    I’m writing all this to let you know, please don’t lose yourself, that fabulous creative side, because of an earlier promise. Enjoy these sweet baby days but perhaps in a few months you can perhaps arrange with another young mother to trade off in watching each others’ little ones for a few hours a week so you can do a bit of that creative work that makes you Secret Agent Josephine.

  • lu

    I realize he brings the bacon in your doors, but I think you can talk with him about needing an outlet so you can create and contribute to the household. It is worth discussing now instead of falling on your face later. And run your business like a business without trying to get Toby to take you seriously. His business is no more legit than yours…or is it? You did want the baby and with that comes some sacrifices. I know, I have three. Just now, I am getting my photography business off the ground and my youngest is 3.

  • rachel

    baby bug always sounds so similar to my (now nearly 2 1/2-year-old) daughter. i carried hazel all the time, all the way through 5 1/2 months, when she could sit up by herself. then i carried her most of the time, all the way to 11 months, when she started walking. then my back began to heal. the more she could do on her own, the happier she was and the more independent we both became. even though it felt like she was going to be an infant forever and i was never going to do a single creative thing again, that didn’t last. now we do things together, sometimes, when her mood is right. infancy feels all-encompasing and time becomes finite in a way it never was before, but it doesn’t last.

  • erika

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I don’t have kids but I can’t imagine making an agreement like that. People just aren’t predictable and you should definitely re-evaluate that agreement. For your sanity and your family’s future. You only live once and your art is a gift. Please don’t squelch it for the rest of your life because you’ve grown into another role of being a mother. It’s not good for you, I know that much. I’m sending you a huge hug, hope you get it.

    I don’t know if you’re kidding or not but I would love some graphic design work. :)

  • e.g. white

    A happy healthy baby equals a happy mom. A happy wife equals a happy husband and household. Toby needs to realize that YOUR happiness is tantamount to the happiness of your baby, your household and your LIFE together. To be a good mom, you need to feel fulfilled in all areas of your life, (not 100% of the time, but a majority of it). If you don’t you’ll soon start to feel resentful of darling Baby Bug and your husband Toby. Sure you made an agreement to be a 1950’s wife and mom, but Toby needs to be realistic and take some responsibility in raising his daughter. Soon Baby Bug will grow up and she’ll not want to be with him…how important will his business be when he finds out he doesn’t know his daughter. The last thing he wants is to have his world turned upside down, but that’s exactly what he is headed for, an unhappy wife who never got to fulfill her dreams and use her amazing talents and a daughter who has not had a good father figure in her life. I’d think he would want to have a daughter who is proud of her talented and loving mom, the mom who tried to do it all and succeeded. You are a smart woman and need to do what feels right for you, regardless of what agreement you made with your caveman husband. Your talents and your daughter should not be sacrificed for the idealistic archaeic views of your husband. I’ve got a son, of my own and have been able to pursue my career with my husbands blessings. He respects me and sees my talents as valuable. All of us who religiously read your blog see you as a talented woman want you to be happy and to feel satisfied with your life. We support you and hope that you can find the strength to pursue your dreams and to find an outlet for your creativity. You go girl, and stand up to your man. He’ll find out that it’s much better to have a happy wife and daughter than spend that 20% of his day alone or not participating in your life together. In reality, Toby is the one missing out on this special time in your life. You two will never have this sweet little baby to bond with, soon she’ll be in school and wanting to be with her friends. Children need both their parents to arm them with good morals and strong backbones to survive in the real world. I think the others who have commented believe in you too, and think it’s okay for you and Toby to reevaulate your arrangement. Be strong and we’ve got your back!

  • motherbumper

    You are one of the most talanted individuals I have found recently and as you already know, I love to read your blog and admire your Baby Bug. My baby Bumper also became a different little lady around 14 weeks and while she is more vocal and more of a handful now a days, she still is a joy to carry around. My back aches for you. Bumper is almost 7 months and even though she can sit up and “scooch” around on her own, she still wants Mommy to hold her as often as possible. And how can I resist. I too am having trouble balancing life and my husband had agreed to a more equitable baby-care plan! All I can advise is revisit the “plan” often because just like the Bug who grows daily, the plan must expand. Not the most original advice but it’s the best I can offer. Don’t ever let anyone call your talent crap and don’t ever stop using your gift. You are a strong, talented lady and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • BeachMama

    I can understand the agreement thing and not wanting to rock the boat. We had an agreement here, that I wouldn’t be working at all. Well, by the time “J” was six months old, I was starting my first business. Now, at 2.5 years old, I have two on the go. Not that I want to have it this way, it just happened. I will say that it got a lot easier to plan work when “J” got a little bit older. Now, I have to start winding down or cutting back on the original business as it was a lot of sewing. Not something you can do with a toddler who is awake (read no longer naps) and wanting to help. So, I sew a little and am working on building up my newer office business. An easier business to work at with a toddler. You will find the right mix that works for you. I too understand how busy Toby is and relies on you for most of the work, just try to remind him in a very subtle way that babies grow quickly and this is time that you can never get back. It took my Hubby a little bit of time to realize that and now spends a good hour before bed playing solo with “J”, that is my time :). You will find the right mix, you are a great Mom and a wonderful artist, it will all work out.

  • amy

    No advice from me – just hugs. You are doing an amazing job. You are a strong and wonderful wife, mother and woman. Sending you wishes for peace and happiness!

  • Captain Mom

    Marriage isn’t about locking someone down into a deal. It’s sacrifice. Changing when change needs to come. Loving eachother first, above all deals. It’s about growing up when it’s time. Hope you get help from your husband, and find the peace you need.

    There is no busier person than a mother. Especially a mother with an additional job, and a home, and the primary responbilities. Not even Toby.

    Marriage and parenthood is not a business deal. Deals are about what I can GET. Jockeying for the best position. Marriage and parenthood is about the other, and the child. What can I GIVE. From both of you. To eachtother, and to Baby Bug.

    I am sorry if I sound harsh. I truly speak out of a love for another woman, wife, and mother. Even though we’ve never met, we share common bonds. This is just my opinion, and I do hope and pray for your resolve on this.

  • Carrie

    Oh Brenda, my heart is hurting for you. I know you made the arrangement, and I hate getting assvice so don’t want to give you any but I really do hope that you are able to re-evaluate things and get a babysitter in a couple of days a week or something. I seriously don’t know what I would do if I couldn ‘t hand the baby off to Mike (or someone) sometimes. I don’t have PPD at all but I would probably kill myself or the baby if the onus was all on me. *big hugs*

  • Saple

    I understand that you want to honor your arrangement and that being the promary care giver for the baby is an important thing for you, but if you are unhappy and stressed than the baby is likely to be unhappy and stressed out too. if you could find some pre teen that could come in and play with her for a little bit. When I did it, it was called a mothers helper. You actually do not leave the house but there is someone else there to entertain and make a fuss over the baby. Being at a daycare a day or two a week will give her socialization and she will actually bond with the caregivers there. I hope that you can talk it over and realize that a happy mommy makes for a much happier family.

  • ellamama

    You can do it. I worked when Ella was a baby, well, for three years, and she was with me 24/7. She was the workingest baby in Portland, Oregon because dad was getting his PhD and I had to work almost full time. What about a friend babysitting co-op? Don’t call it babysitting, just call it social. You will become very efficient. Best of luck.

  • Daisy Mae

    Hang in there Brenda. Don’t give up your Art, you CAN do both. It may not be easy at times but you can definately do it.

    And I am being totally selfish here but I am glad that you use one of those naps for blogging. ;-)

  • dutch

    If I knew wives were supposed to honor agreements made years before contemplation of marriage and parenthood, my family would be living off the grid in a shack in the upper peninsula of michigan killing our own chickens NOT SELLING OUT TO THE MAN.

    I spent part of last afternoon contemplating whether we should get the metallic or mult-colored placemats from Design Within Reach.

    Things change.

  • Annika

    Well, you know, arts and crafts crap is all Martha Stewart does. The last thing I want is to make you feel bad about the arrangement you and Toby have, but I do want for you to be able to do your things, to run your graphic design business and do the fun arts and crafts stuff and get some rest now and then. Maybe I won’t be so naive in a month when I have my own baby, but it seems like there must be a way it can work! I wish you the most luck in finding ways to make it work.

  • Texas T-bone

    Parenting is, at the least, a two-person job (just as is “making” a kiddo). The best thing for the kid is to have a sane caregiver. That means the main caregiver needs a night off at least once a week. More important, you and Toby need to have a date now and then to reconnect. Especially if there’s no built-in time for it. Life can get in the way of living if we let it. A good babysitter is crucial, whether family, friend or well-researched stranger.

    The deal is between you and your husband AND your daughter. She doesn’t have a say, so you’ve got to speak for her. She wants you to be rested or have a little time to work.

    We may all seem like meddling blog commenters, but I think most of us care about you at least a little bit. I know it’s all easy for us to say and stuff, but it’s from the heart. I hope it helps in some small way.

  • Kristin

    The thing about a baby is that no one, not the authoritative Bible-sized books nor well meaning friends nor omniscient old ladies at sidewalks crossings – can prepare you for how stunningly difficult they can be.

    Rob and I had an arrangement to be equal parents – meaning we’d share baby duties 50/50 (haaahahahahahahaa!!) I let him out of it because I didn’t realize the biological motherhood stuff.

    Thinking of you, and hoping you can work something out so that you get a break because you DESERVE it!

  • Ryan

    This my first time reading your blog and I’m sorry to jump on the soapbox so readily, but wow–I’m about to become a father any minute now myself, and not only can I NOT imagine even contemplating such an arrangement as your husband has gotten for himself, but I REALLY can’t imagine keeping it, or expecting to keep it. Unless he’s a pediatric neurologist or some other profession that demands 100% of a person’s soul, I personally can’t imagine how he thinks it’s either right, fair, or for that matter desirable that he not supply at least some of the care of his own child. Deal or no deal. That sounds to me like a deal made by someone who doesn’t want kids in the first place. And as long as you continue telling yourself that something else is the source of a great deal of your challenges, I think you’re kidding yourself. Sorry to be so harsh, but I think doing so gives you more credit than some squishy ‘you can do it’ tripe would.

  • Jamie

    I’m chiming in on this late (and having just read the newer post). I understand completely and personally I didn’t read into this that Toby is not a good father. My husband also has his own business and IT’s CRAZY I TELL YA! It’s not a 9 to 5, leave the work at the office type thing. It is all consuming and when I was home last year with the baby he told me he really really needed decompression time when he got home from work, even though I wanted to bombard him with 9 million things about what the baby had done that day. He opened his computer services business shop after working from home the month before we got pregnant with our second daughter. I think, like most moms, you enjoy your “outside” the realm of motherhood work and there’s nothing wrong with that. Things will get easier and you’ll be able amazed at how much you can juggle as time goes by, but the first year is pretty much all about baby. And, I’m a work outside the home mommy now, too, so I know the juggling thing is a constant struggle. Any way, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. And hey your arts and crafts “crap” is pretty darn cool! You’ve got a lot of talent.

  • Occidental Girl

    When you have a baby, life changes in ways that you can’t imagine. You aren’t being subversive to your husband if you are feeling differently than you thought you would, you’re just being honest. That’s okay!

    I encourage you to not feel bad about it, you didn’t do anything wrong. You and your husband are in this together, so talk about it and keep talking about it until you have a solution that works for both of you.

    Marriage is about give and take; no one should only have to give.

  • mrsmogul

    awesome site. I can’t believe how stressful having a baby is! It’s a shock to the system! I wish I could do freelance design work…but too busy to take a course!

  • Kim-Anh

    From one freelancing designer, married-to-a-husband-with-a-stressful-job-with-long-hours, SAHM to another … thank you for putting your thoughts (and seemingly, mine!) down so eloquently. You read my mind, and it made me feel 100% better just knowing someone else was feeling and thinking the same thing.

  • Debbie

    Well, did your blog, the picture of the inside of the laundromat, and your baby in the laundry basket bring back memories for me. In the late 1970’s through to the mid 1980’s, 4 families including ours traveled “rainbow” style around Canada.

    We were hippies and we all used cloth diapers on our children and upon coming across a laundromat after days on the road, we would all pile out of our VW vans with garbage bags full of dirty laundry, and make our way into the laundromat. Our babies dressed only in rubber pants and diapers, slung over our hips, us women in our snug fitting terry cloth summer shorts, halter tops, and sandals, and our husbands in shoes, socks, and cut offs.

    We would literally invade these laundromats, and within minutes we had our babies lined up side by side on top of the laundry folding tables, changing their diapers, smoking our cigarettes, and of course, doing our laundry. Stacks and stacks of freshly washed and dried white cloth diapers sat in almost neat towering piles, and mounds of rubber pants, many which were inside out as a result of being swiftly pulled off of our babies bottoms at diaper change time were strewn everywhere!

    Ya, dirty laundry, laundromats, and cloth diapers I remember so well indeed!

  • bethany

    I know you’ve probably heard this before, but I will say it again because it bears repeating: life with your baby WILL get easier! It won’t always be this intense and demanding. The first six months of my daughter’s life seemed to last about 17 years, but the rest of that year seemed to go by in about five minutes. Now she is two and I feel like we just finished cleaning up after her first birthday party. Not only are older babies and toddlers more independent, but you will have been a mom for longer, and you will be better at dealing with it all.

    I know I am commenting on an old post here, and things may have drastically changed in your life by now, but I wanted to say my piece and tell you that I, a total stranger, will be praying for you and your family. Hope that helps.

    Also, one more random comment: My mom grew up in Banning, and I’ve been visiting family in Beaumont my whole life. I have eaten many, many breakfasts in Hemet over the years. Small world.