Motherhood

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother. Actually, it goes back before then: I sure don’t remember this, but my own mother tells me that when I was little, I could not/would not go to sleep until every single one of my dolls, toys, and stuffed animals had something on them to act as a blanket-socks, scraps of cloth, actual blankets-because I was worried they would get cold.

And then when I was 22, due to a funky form of arthiritis I have and the general ridiculousness of our current health care/insurance system, I had to take a drug that had the potential to render me sterile.  But in order to get the actual drug that I wanted/needed to take, I was forced to try this particular potentially sterilizing drug for a minimum of three months, and only if it did not work would I be given the go ahead to get “the good stuff”. Having a conversation with a new boyfriend about how I might not be able to have kids-when we were both kids ourselves and really not at that point in our relationship-was not easy or comfortable. But I had to-and I’m glad I did. That boyfriend is now my wonderful husband, by the way. 🙂 The day I started on that drug regiment, I felt my heart sink, knowing that I might be swallowing my chance to have a child of my own naturally.

Thankfully, there was no ill effects to my reproductive system and 14 months ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy. And now, all these months later, there are days where I wonder about my mental stability for ever wanting to have a child. People tell you “its hard…harder than you can imagine” but that’s not really helpful, is it? That statement could fit into a variety of things….lifting a 200lb weight is also hard….harder than I can imagine. Attempting to walk across a room without tripping over thin air is hard….harder than I can imagine. So to say that being a parent is “hard” is not accurate. There are so many things that I have run into during my short run of parenthood that I think “why the hell didn’t anyone TELL ME ABOUT THIS?!?!”.

Nothing prepared me for seeing my son for the first time. Nothing. And while I never had any sort of transition-I saw him, I was his mother. that was it. no questions, no hesitation. i loved him unconditionally-over the course of this past year and change, more often than not I find myself feeling like a really tortured baby sitter, someone who’s just waiting for his “real” parents to come and pick him up and I can start my life. Even though my entire life revolves around him and his needs and his schedule, it still doesn’t feel real. I guess for some people hearing the heartbeat for the first time makes it real. For others, it’s watching their baby move during an ultrasound, or feeling them kick during pregnancy. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something to happen, to go into one of my many pre-natal appointments and be told that there’s been some awful mix up and I’m not actually pregnant. So why didn’t his birth, or his life, make it feel real yet? I still feel weird when people refer to me as a mother or a mommy…like they’re going to see behind some facade and realize I’m just the baby sitter…..

Before becoming a mother (or rather, a really tortured baby sitter….) I thought I knew what would happen. And I had baby books to read…but I forgot to read beyond the newborn stage. Because in some ways, I forgot that I wouldn’t have a newborn forever. And when I finally got around to reading about the 6-12 month stage (when he was about 13 months old…..)I actually learned some interesting stuff that would have been helpful seven months prior. Until I realized that my baby hadn’t read the books, and never actually conformed to anything any of them said. (which also would have been useful information prior to becoming a parent, but that’s a topic for another day).

What I have learned so far about motherhood is this: i don’t know shit. I mean, I know how to take care of my son, I don’t think anything I’m doing/not doing is going to turn him into a serial killer later in life. But overall, it’s one big blind stumble in the dark. If I could go back and tell myself some things before having my boy, it would be:

~Things never actually get “better”. They get different. Some things get easier, but other things get more difficult. So its all kind of a wash….

~Feel free to read books….and it’s probably smart to read beyond the newborn chapters. But remember that your baby will not have read the books, and therefore it is not his fault that he’s not behaving exactly the way the book says.

~Babies may not actually sleep. Yes, in theory, once you get past the newborn stage they sleep longer….unless you find yourself 14 months later barely able to keep track of what day of the week it is because you haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time (on a good night) in about 14 months or so. Then you just find that you want to beat everyone who ever wrote “after the fourth month or so, your baby should be sleeping a 4-5 hour stretch during the night and taking 2-3 naps during the day”. Or find them, make them come to your house and make it work that way, because that way sounds pretty freaking good compared to this crap.

~No matter how many bad days you feel like you have, you will still love your baby more than life itself. And yes, it is okay to  not like him sometimes. Because sometimes you won’t. and you’ll want to give him to the next person you see, regardless of their mental state. But you won’t. I promise. Because if you do, you might not see his  precious face, or smell his wonderful smell anymore

~Enjoy breastfeeding. All the time. Even if your kid nurses every two hours for an hour at a time. Never again will you have permission to sit on your ass and not get anything else done. Stop  being frustrated at not being able to do the dishes. I promise, there will be a shitload of dishes in your life. This, however, will be your only baby.

~Get a really comfortable rocking chair. You might just spend more time sleeping in that chair than in your own bed, so pony up the extra cash and get a really really ridiculously comfortable one.

~Smell your baby’s breath. Right after he nurses. It is the best, most sweet, unbelievable smell in the entire world. Smell it every time, for as long as he’ll let you.

~Forgive yourself. You are not perfect. You will get frustrated. You will get angry. You will get downright furious. But you will never hurt your baby. Because he is your sweet wonderful boy, and nothing…NOTHING…can ever change that, no matter how angry you might get sometimes.

~Try to forgive everyone else when they spout out ridiculous cliches that make you want to kick them. They’re just trying to help.

~Accept help.

~Never, never, never, NEVER take your husband for granted. He loves you and your boy more than anything and would bend over backward and sideways to help you both out.

~Its okay to not always be strong. Because sometimes you’re not. It’s okay to let the smile slide off your face, to stop the jokes, and to let the tears fall.

~As soon as you think you’ve got this whole thing figured out and under control, he will move on to a new phase and everything you just got figured out doesn’t mean anything anymore. And it’s going to be that way for the rest of your life. Try to laugh about it when you can, let yourself cry about it when you can’t.

And finally the last thing I would tell myself is: you will survive this. and yes, it is worth it. now go hug and kiss your husband, and go watch your baby sleep (because he won’t be sleeping for long, and he’s awfully cute when he sleeps). And then get your ass to bed.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Randi
    Feb 26, 2011 @ 05:28:25

    You are a terrific mother…better than I was, not that this is a competition. I can just see your beautiful boy thriving. And you have changed your life to be a full time mother, with Jason’s suppport. Part of the loving mother role is to question whether you are doing enough as a mother. You expressed your frustrations eloquently and honestly.

    Reply

  2. Beth
    Feb 27, 2011 @ 03:18:29

    Great post 🙂

    Reply

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