Seize The Day (Even If It Starts At 5a.m.)

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003 Before I even thought of getting pregnant, I had many fears associated with becoming a mother. I was afraid of what becoming a mother would do to me. I was afraid of what it would do to my marriage. I was, in general, very uncertain before starting such a quest. So I then thought through *all* scenarios and built a fortress of a support-system. 

I should have known better. Life doesn’t work that way, and I never thought I would have to fend off so much well-intentioned and yet irritating advice.

If you are a parent, I’m sure you’ve been asked. "How’s baby sleeping?" "How’s baby eating?" "What is baby DOING this week?"  (As if simply existing as an entity outside my uterus isn’t amazing enough!)

Your answers to these questions, little did you know, can unleash not only a torrent of judgment from the questioner, but also a flood of emotions within yourself. Why haven’t you sleep trained? How can you stand to co-sleep? Why didn’t you breastfeed? When will you stop breastfeeding? Aren’t you doing rice cereal? Aren’t you potty training yet? WHEN ARE YOU HAVING ANOTHER ONE!?

As annoying as it is to be asked these questions (whether coming from a nosy stranger or your own loving mother) the asking isn’t the worst part. The worst part?  That you've already done this interrogation on yourself.

You ask yourself (between moments of feeling the triumphant joy that the love of your child brings) so many questions:  Will I ever sleep again? Will I ever eat sitting down again? Will I have a sex life again? Will I have my bed to myself again? Does letting her cry make her think I’ve abandoned her? Does not letting her cry make her think she can only sleep in my arms? Can I, should I, could I, will I ever again have all the answers?

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Who the heck knows on both counts and NO.  You will never, ever again be totally certain of things.

Life is always changing, moving, evolving. From one moment to the next I have found myself feeling all-consuming love my for child…followed by a burning frustration that can only come from the exhaustion of parenting. And if you have felt that, no, when you feel that, take a breath and remember this:  For all the things that will come with time…like sleep, seated meals, a breast without a child attached to it…there are so many more that will be gone forever.

Things you won’t do again:

Hold THIS baby, in this way.

Be able to comfort anyone the way you can comfort this child right now.

Be a new mom.

Be a new mom to your second child. Or third.

Eventually, your child will sleep, will eat, will have all their teeth. Or at least that's what people tell me. 011 But the moment you are in, with the child you are holding, the feeling you are feeling, is never going to be back to exactly the way it is now.

And I don't need anyone to tell me that, because I see it with my daughter's changes each and every day. There are a lot of things you could be doing during the time you spend rocking/feeding/cleaning/teaching your child…but there is probably nothing else you should be doing. 

Happy Mother's Day.

— Lane

 

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Contributing author Lane is an intentionally unemployed social worker who is currently a new mom, following her husband's dream, trying to stay relevant, and practicing her mothering skills on two rescued dogs, Enid and Falcor (in addition to her new addition, baby Vesper).  Check out her fabulous blog, the Overseas Trapeze.

 

18 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Lane. What a beautifully written piece – advice that is so important (and difficult) to remember. BTW, this self-interrogation doesn’t seem to get easier (at least for me) as my boys get older (now 3 and 5). The questions just change – should my 5 year old know how to swim by now? Should I be teaching my 3 year old to write his name? Should both boys be taking piano or violin lessons? Do I let them watch too much TV? Did I do the right thing putting my 5 year old in kindergarten even though he’ll always be one of the youngest? And I’m told it just gets more complicated as they get older.
    You’re right to remind yourself to enjoy this phase – it is so fleeting.

  2. Love this… & so true as i just sit here watchimg mickey mouse with my 2 yr old & my 8 day old sleeping on my lap 🙂 couldn’t be happier anywhere else.

  3. Thank you for this. My son will be four months old on Sunday and we are right in the middle of some kind of growth spurt/teething/sleep regression mix of sleepless nights and fussy days. Combine that with his newest skill (screeching loudly and shrilly) and you get some tired, frustrated parents! I’m printing this out and putting it on my fridge.

  4. You brought tears to my eyes, as I’m sitting here with my five-month old sleeping on my lap. I have a five-year old, too, so I know how true your words are. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for the kind words, mothers! 🙂 And this applies to fathers as well! I have to remind myself to take in each moment every.single.day. And what wonderful moments they are, when looked at individually instead of as a massive, exhausting bunch!
    @Madeleine, I can only imagine that the questions get more and more difficult and the stakes higher, all more reason for me to relish in this ‘easy’ stuff, right?
    @alyssa, we went through some wild sleep regression thing (or whatever?!) at 4 months as well. At the time I was in tears at some point most days. Suddenly, out of the blue, it ended and I counted up and realized it lasted a total of ten days (and ten long nights). Each of those days were hard of course, but when put in perspective I realized it wasn’t so bad! Hang in there! Hugs!

  6. You know how many kids we have – and I will tell you that the time spent in the beginning, where you are now, is like investing money in the bank. The more you invest, the more you will have later on. Yes, they do eventually stop nursing, long before they grow a set of their own. Yes, they do end up learning to fall asleep on their own and not in your bed. No, your marriage will never be the same – how can it be? There is a new person in the mix and when you see each other loving something more than yourselves, it creates a new awareness and awe of the person you chose to spend your life with – it just gets better. Just enjoy the whole process, enjoy who you become – I personally think you are incredible.

  7. You are too wise for a first time mum ;)!
    Some of this only came to me with #2 and knowing that he will most likely be my last baby.
    Happy Mother’s day to you too!

  8. Precious moments and precious memories. I treasure the time I spend holding my babies because they haven’t stayed babies long (6, 4, 4, and almost 2). BEING in the moment means more to me. You’re awesome!

  9. Lsner, you always give me some sort of relief with the choices I make for Baby Sloan. Thanks for being you!
    Happy Mother’s Day to us.

  10. I think back to Mothers Day last year, my first. The Pup was only 10 weeks old, and I had fallen deep into a pit of postpartum depression–which ended up being one of the most terrifying times of my life. That period was the worst of the worst, as I started coming out of it by 12 weeks. I remember being utterly surprised that it was Mothers Day, and totally unprepared for any sort of celebration, as I was pretty positive that I was the worst mom in the world. I look at our picture that day, the one where everyone said “what a beautiful new mom!” because I was skinny and had my hair done and was wearing cute clothes, and I can see the abject fear beneath the smile. However, one of my only comforts in that blackness was the smell of his skin. I remember holding him in the middle of the night as my heart raced, holding his beautiful little head next to my cheek so I could smell his hair. Even in the darkness, I recognized the healing he brought me, and I grasped frantically at those moments, knowing for sure how fleeting they would be.
    This year is so different. I’m full of such joy, both with him as a little person and with my role as a mom. I want to dance, not hide. I want to relish in his smells and sounds, not wallow in them. And you’re so right–I will never comfort someone like I do for him, either like I was able to do then or am able to do now. And no one else can bring me the same kind of comfort, either.
    Here’s to us, moms. The unshowered, the pooch-hiding, the milk-leaking, the baby-wearing. We’re pretty awesome. Thanks, Lane.

  11. I always try to live in the moment with my two…but, oh is it hard. i try to think of this poem:
    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
    empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    ( lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    ( pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    but I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    ( lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
    – Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, Lady’s Home Journal (1958)

  12. Joanne, you are always so sweet to me! An inspirational mother!
    Amy, just woke up to that comment and it made me cry! Thanks for your honesty, amazing how you come out of those dark moments and they become a memory instead of your reality!
    abi, thanks for posting this poem, I’ve never read it but I love it! “Babies don’t keep!”

  13. GREAT post Lane. All true, all tough to remember, glad to see it in black and white. PS LOVE your hair cut. 🙂 Love you- JJ

  14. Thank you for this thoughtful, well-written, beautiful post! I’m a new mother – with a 5 week old baby girl who has taken my breath away with how much I have fallen in love with her. I cannot tell you how much your post reflected my own recent feelings. Your words are a great reminder to stay in the moment and enjoy this time.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Sherry

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