Mother, homemaker, world builder

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

Recently, upon a Christmas tidings visit to the Reader office, Publisher Ben Olson asked me a perfectly polite and simple question. It was something along the lines of: “Do you feel disconnected at all from the outside world?”

He was of course referring to the drastic life change I underwent in 2023: The transition from newspaper news editor at our esteemed local weekly to stay-at-home mom of a baby boy named Liam. It was a choice I made willingly and excitedly. Still, despite the breezy answer I gave Ben about how I stay up on current events and find ways to get out of the house even with a baby attached to me, I keep mulling over the question.

Do I feel disconnected? The answer, as it turns out, is complicated.

First, it might help to define my inner world — one of feeding schedules, sleep regressions and increasingly labor-intensive diaper changes. My 5-month-old little boy is in 18-month clothing, eating his first solids and trying desperately to balance his giant noggin well enough to sit up on his own. All this growing is exhausting for all parties involved, though luckily one of us has the benefit of caffeine consumption to keep her going.

As far as co-workers go, we have cattle dog Mac and black cat Pistol. They are never far from Liam, which in recent weeks has come in handy more than once. An expression of consternation dissolves into pure joy whenever one of the pets walks into the baby’s line of sight. Their mere existence delights him, which warms my heart. 

My inner world as of late is certainly small in a physical sense. We spend most of our days between the rocking chair, nursing and laughing; the kitchen, playing and cooking; the driveway, walking and napping; and the changing table, wiping and cursing.

For the first time in seven years, I pick up the Reader and find myself unaware of what story awaits me on the next page. I run errands so infrequently that store remodels and road construction projects seem to begin and end with lightning speed. My small talk is deeply out of practice. I sit on unread emails for days longer than I have since, well, ever. 

But on the other side of all that disconnect lies a powerful fact I learned in recent weeks: Every second, a baby makes somewhere around 700 new neural connections. Every second of each day I spend in my new, slow life of child rearing and home making, Liam is literally learning how to be a person. He is making new connections at a truly unfathomable rate.

I’m leaning into this fact, providing narration to nearly everything we do together: make muffins, fold laundry, throw the ball for Mac. His eyes track my hands and watch my mouth move as I talk. He observes with such intensity that I’m sure he will join in at any moment — and in some senses, he has. Liam has started interjecting his own babble into conversations as my husband Alex and I swirl around him each evening, discussing our days while we make dinner together and the baby sits perched on the kitchen island in his bouncy seat. As of late, he has things to say.

“Tell us all about it, buddy,” Alex says to him. “How was your day with mama?”

I am genuinely curious what he would report, but glad my terrible singing and dancing — all necessary baby entertainment — remain a babble-protected secret for now.

To Liam’s rapidly developing brain, we are the world that he spends every waking moment observing, learning how to take part. Are we two people in a kitchen making dinner and catching up, or are we an entire universe? It really is a matter of perspective.

I am certainly not as connected to the outside world as I used to be, but I hardly have time to be sad about it. Why worry about being connected to a world when you can build a world? My only hope is that I can make it a good one.

Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey is a writer, mother and editor emeritus of the Sandpoint Reader.

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