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. 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.
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.