Saturday, February 8, 2014

Baby Duty with a Splash of Fly Casting

My son is nearly four months now, and it's true what people say about kids growing up so fast.  He's changing a little bit every day, and the past four months have been a blur. When I try to recall the first few weeks with him--or even the first month---I find it hard to remember the details. I understand now why my mother-in-law has trouble remembering specifics about my husband as a baby when I ask her for comparisons. I guess it's one of those clich├ęs that are totally true, but you just can't realize it until you're experiencing it firsthand. I try to keep this in mind when I'm struggling to get our son back to sleep at 3:00 am or trying to comfort him when he's fussy. If I find myself daydreaming about "easier" times down the road, I try to remember that these days are fleeting and will be missed down the road. I've heard the time with a young child described as the "longest shortest time," which is a totally accurate description so far. Some days and nights drag on and I start wishing for a break, but then I look at my son and realize just how fast he's growing up. I know that the frustrations we're facing at the moment will be distant memories soon enough.
I'm fortunate to be able to stay home with my son for the first six months of his life,  which I try to appreciate when I start feeling stir crazy. I know many women have to go back to work much earlier and it must be very difficult for them. I currently get to spend every waking and sleeping hour with my son, which I'm greatful for, but it's nice to get some time to myself every once in awhile.  Thanks to my husband and the fact that our son will now take a bottle when needed, I've recently been able to get out of the house for some "me time."  These short breaks help me re-energize and I look forward to returning home to my family afterwards.  Fittingly, most of these outings have revolved around fly fishing.
My first official solo trip away from home since my son's birth was to a casting open gym. Some friends recently formed the Madison Fly Casters Club as a way for area fly fishers to get together during the offseason for some winter casting practice.  They reserved a couple basketball courts at a local sports arena and arranged for a couple hours of casting, beer drinking, and socializing.  At first it felt strange getting into the car without the baby carrier and diaper bag---I had the feeling I was forgetting something--but it didn't take me long to start enjoying the drive. I turned up the music and took in the rolling hills on each side of me. Once there, it was really nice to chat with some old and new friends about fly fishing and babies. Finding out that other parents of young kids have gone through and survived all the same problems my husband and I are facing made me see the big picture. It helped me realize that the things currently stressing us out are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. So overall, the open gym was a great way for everyone to fight cabin fever and get their casting arms moving again. I'm looking forward to the next one scheduled this month.
Photo courtesy of 
Just a few nights ago, my husband volunteered to babysit so I could attend the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) that was in town. It was nice to sit back in the theater with a cold beer and get lost in some good fly fishing footage. It was also good to see friendly faces and visit with friends. I've met a lot of great people through fly fishing, and it's always nice to catch up with them. Though there were a few too many salt water films and not enough spring creek footage for my taste, it was a great reason for a night out in subzero temperatures.
As my son gets older and the frigid temps become more manageable, I'm sure it will be easier for me to get out of the house--with or without the baby. I'm very thankful to my husband for encouraging me to do so. He's had to work off and on over the past four months and probably feels a bit guilty that I've been "stuck" at home so much on baby duty. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been able to get these moments to myself that helped me gain perspective and return home happy to be back on baby duty. I used to envy my husband when he had to leave for work; he was able to socialize with other adults, get out of the house, and experience some freedom without having to battle our son during naptime. I now realize, though, that I was the lucky one who got to stay home with our baby. If the first four months have gone by this quickly, he'll be a year old before we know it. Instead of worrying about whether our son is getting enough "tummy time," we'll be worrying about gating off the stairs. I'm sure as time goes by we'll look back wistfully on these early months, and rather than lamenting the weeks stuck at home on baby duty, I know I''ll appreciate the amount of time I was able to spend with my baby boy.

**If you're in the Madison area and interested in joining the Madison Fly Casters Club, check out their Facebook page: