Changing diapers, making very weird sounds and funny faces, snatching dropped soothers out of the air in mid-fall like a baseball pro, trying to catch kicking feet with socks, rocking the baby to make him sleepy, hoisting a 2-ton car seat in and out of grocery stores, rocking baby to put him to sleep, making up incredibly ridiculous songs using common household objects as inspiration, changing more diapers, rocking the baby to at least make him a little sleepy, changing drool-and-spit-covered shirts (mine) twice a day, rocking the baby and thinking "Please go to sleep! For the love of God!"
These are just some of the joys of being a parent to a 3 month-old infant.
In August I was unceremoniously laid off from my crappy underpaid side-job. My own business, NLingua, had really picked up by then but was still in such an early stage that I needed to invest every dollar it made back into the company. I had found a shitty job with a sketchy company precisely because I didn't want responsibility outside of growing my business. When they laid me off I had to fall back onto freelance writing work and have since built up a clientele that is not too shabby.
Today I handle the social media and write blog posts and magazine articles for several different clients. I've found a niche market as a small business e-consultant, basically running the blogs and Facebook accounts for SME's (small and medium-sized enterprises), who can't afford the big marketing agencies in Toronto and New York.
This income, while it won't buy me a penthouse suite, or even a vacation to Cuba, at least pays the bills and allows me to continue to build my main work project, NLingua. Best of all, I've got to be home with my son from the day he was born to now, 3 months later.
He and I are bonded very closely and I feel like I am a lot more blessed than many fathers who have to spend 40-60 hours a week away from home, exhausted and missing their little bundles of joy. Instead of that, I get to be a big part of Maxim's life.
Maxim LOVES his daddy. When he's grumpy or restless or just bored, Katya will bring him to me for instant smiles and fun. We bought a "baby gym", basically a mat the baby can lay on with all sorts of toys dangling from overhead bars that he can swat at. I lay with him and play with all the toys, making animal sounds and imitating his cute babbling and cooing. I'll sit him in his bouncy chair in front of me when I'm working or eating and talk to him. He'll stare at me with wide-eyed wonder as I describe my plans for the day or tell him what I'm doing, then he'll crack a big smile and declare "Oooaaaah!"
Maxim has also latched on to hockey. I was watching my poor Toronto Maple Leafs get blasted by the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin, with the baby on my knee, when I realized that he wasn't squirming or making any noise. I looked down at him and he was watching the hockey game! He sat like that through the whole first period, until TV commercials ruined it and he got annoyed. Today he watches hockey with me every Saturday, at least for one period. Come to think of it, I haven't actually seen the end of a game this season!
Katya has started reading to him, which he absolutely loves. He stares at the pictures and listens to him mommy's voice as she excitedly goes through the story. Katya also recently taught him to raise his arms towards us when he wants picked up. It's actually amazing. He'll look at us with frantic eyes and raise his arms up towards us while kicking his legs.
Katya has been an amazing mother. Once the initial shock and confusion of having a baby and waking up every two hours to feed it passed, Katya fell into a nurturing mother role. She reads to him, plays with him, bathes him, feeds him, rocks him and takes him walks every day. Recently she took him to the Ontario Early Years Center, which is a free parents center funded by the provincial government. There she played with him on a mat, surrounded by mothers and their infants doing the same. A health nurse and an ECE worker were there, offering advice and answering questions while mommies and babies got to socialize. She starts a "baby massage" class there next month.
As a daddy, and a daddy who works from home at that, I've got a pretty hectic schedule. I wake up around 7 am, after Maxim's morning feeding, and I take the baby while Katya gets another hour or two of sleep. We'll play and talk and smile at each other, and recently I experienced the highlight of being a parent when I made Maxim break out into the most hysterical laughter! Maxim's first laughs were the cutest and funniest thing I've ever heard, and I broke out into laughter, which just egged him on, and soon we were both howling like monkeys!
Here's the video I managed to take. It cracks me up every time I watch it.
After Katya wakes up I'll get to work on NLingua and my client's portfolios. I've also gone back to school through correspondence, so I'll fit those lessons in as well. I couldn't do it without Google Calendar, Evernote and ToDoist!
When noon hits I'll make lunch for Katya and I and then spend a couple of hours more playing with baby in the afternoon. Because its winter the sun sets earlier, so Katya will take him for a walk and I'll go back downstairs to my office and continue working.
I'm usually the cook in the family so for dinner I'll whip together interesting. I've been trying to make more nutritious meals, especially ones with lots of protein for a breastfeeding mother, but sometimes I'll just fall back on frozen meals from M&M Meat Shops.
Evening rolls around and I'll spend it with my family, playing with baby and helping with bath time. Katya and I will attempt to watch a movie on the weekend, but we've found that it takes a couple of days to get through a whole film (Lord of the Rings took 4 days), what with baby waking up, needing feeding, needing entertaining and constant attention, etc.
Once Katya and baby go to bed for the night, around 10 pm, I'll go back to my office and spend a few hours finishing up any outstanding work.
It's a busy schedule and a hectic lifestyle but it beats the soul-crushing, useless-existence of working in a dreary sweatshop, er, I mean shithole company like the one I was at before. I hope that I can keep the money coming in (December has been tough, I'll be honest, but January should pick up again) so that I can continue to be a huge part of Maxim's life!