There has been a lot of talk since yesterdays Oprah aired. Two well off beautiful women wrote another (latest of 3) book and came on to talk about Motherhood. The title is good. “I’d trade my Husband for a Housekeeper.”
I have to say I’m tired of “nobody tells you.” Today we have limitless resources on the Internet both in actual parenting advice and that of our sisters in the blogsphere. Chances are, like me, you started reading Amalah, Sundry or Dooce well before you started having kids. And let me tell you, they told me! They told me how much being a Mom can fill you with equal parts joy and shit. They promised that life as a Mom is chalk full of disappointment and screw-ups. Full of misery and loneliness. Every magazine on the table at the OB’s office has an article about not bonding with your newborn, how hard it is to nurse, and that no matter how hard you try you will loose something about your old life once this new one is in it.
So really, I think that if we allowed ourselves to be told, we were. Now getting it is another issue entirely. It is all very abstract to us first timers. So when that kid tears it way out (literally)( we knew that, too) it can still be really shocking to find out that they were, gasp, telling the truth!
You can scour my archives if you have the time and want to know how those first weeks really were. But, you have a life or a kid or two. Maybe both if your lucky so I will tell you here. It’s hard! All of it and for months and months and months. It’s all varying degrees of hard, that little dictator wont let you get in on him and keeps changing the game just when you think you’ve got it figured out. I know that Nate’s 2nd month was the hardest, by far. I brought home a very peaceful baby who wanted nothing but to nurse, sit quietly and sleep in his crib/bouncer/my arms/carseat. He was up to eat a lot but slept most of the time. The 2nd month was bad, and I remember every time I look at his pictures. There about about 12 for the entire month. He started cluster feeding in addition to having belly aches as I learned what I could and could not eat. I got my first (of a million) clogged milk duct. I admitted that it was harder than I thought.
I think that most of us go through the hard part mostly alone. Even if your near your family, its typically us who are up at 11,1,3,5 am feeding all alone. Those are some really dark and difficult nights that seem to run on for a life time. And in those days/nights who the hell knows is it dusk or dawn first months of a new life that is all you know. While we are out here alone I was still surprised how much I was alone. Not even in the since of being home in the house alone but how much of the job of being a Mom is just you. That must sound stupid but really. When your baby cries at night you get up. You are the one who looses the sleep. You are all alone in those hours spent up trying to get that baby down. Just you and your thoughts. These were quite literally my darkest moments. What I knew but wasn’t prepared for was how I would operate with such sleep deprivation. It was ugly. I remember so vividly a night when Nathan was about 7 weeks old and he wouldn’t nurse. He kept latching on and pulling off with a “pop” and then crying. At one point he arched away and I let him roll form the bobby to my lap. I didn’t try to catch him, I let his little noodle body roll right off. I was lucky he was so small and didn’t fall to the floor. In that second, I didn’t care. That ugly split second when I just wanted to go to sleep and walk away. That incident was the only one I had like it. I immediately started crying wondering how I could have let him roll that way. He was fine but I had learned my lesson. That was something I could have never anticipated or been told to expect. That exhaustion could get the best of me that way. It did and I was shocked and disgusted with myself. While nothing like that happened again there were countless nights that I would just sob while he ate. Several times waking Mike up I was so loud. There was just something about the middle of the night that broke me, and often.
The thing is though, you get through it. For me it took about 5 months. Around that time Nate started sleeping all night, I had dropped all of the baby weight and we were out of the newborn stage. All equal contributing factors, for sure. I think that with any new job there is an adjustment period and this is the same, only different, since the adjustment period is about 18 years or so.
The women today (I’m only referring to the book authors) said they were lonely, they didn’t know who they were anymore, and that basically they like being Moms but don’t like the work. Which I can relate to at least a day or two per week. Some days are just that way. I do count down the minutes until bedtime and have given Nate pudding for dinner because OMG I swear if you feed one more bite of food to the dog/throw it on the floor I will light my hair on fire and run into the street. But as far as not liking the work. That’s not me. I love this. I wont go as far as to say it’s my calling but I do feel suited for it. I think that Nate and I are a fantastic match. And, no matter what kind of day we have had within 30 minutes of him going down for the night I can’t wait for tomorrow.
I don’t think I’m different or lucky. I think that this just fits both my personality and my needs. I love to entertain him and earn a smile or a giggle. I love to read and color and go down the same slide 46 times because that is exactly what he wants to do. I love that he needs me, that’s not something that’s really popular to say but it is true for me. I love that we can communicate well, that he is able to express his wants and needs with words that I have taught him, both verbally and with sign. I love that we seem to fill each other with joy. Being the center of a kid’s universe can be super demanding but is has a load of peaks, too.
The truth is: yes, it is hard work. There is no PTO, hell, no TO. And it is real work raising a little one to be a decent human. There is no guarantee that you’re doing any of it right and that your human will in fact, be decent. The only thing I know for sure is I chose to bring this little one here so I’d better do my best while his ears are free of ipod ear-buds and before his eyes have learned to roll at me. A job I take pretty seriously, but not so seriously that pudding for dinner won’t do on a day when nothing else will.