Being a new mother is AMAZING!!! There’s this little bundle of joy that gazes up at you lovingly as you provide him with all he needs to thrive and survive in this new and scary world. He looks partly like your soul mate, a little like you but mostly, just like him. The perfect little miraculous result of a loving and passionate relationship, and the absolute definition of possibility, hope and purity.
Okay, while that’s all true, I’m going to interrupt myself to throw some reality in! Ready???
Imagine it’s 2am and you’re up for the second time with the baby since laying down at 9pm. There’s spit up in your hair and down the back of the 3rd shirt that you’ve changed into today. The baby is screaming. Really loudly. Your hair hasn’t been washed in 2 days. You’ve given him a bottle. You’ve burped him, changed him, loved him, played with him, coddled him, shooshed him, rocked him, and he’s STILL crying. Ummmm, they didn’t tell me about this when I registered at poofycutebaby.com for a bunch of cute shit that I thought I’d sit around with while my really cute baby sat and cooed happily at me all day long.
Yeah, and while we’re at it, they didn’t tell me that he’d grunt and push and turn red because he hasn’t learned how to allow himself to pass gas and/or poop at this early age. Oh, and the pushing often makes him spit up if you feed him too soon before or after the pushing and grunting occurs. And the pushing and grunting may or may not result in a crazily poop-ed up diaper that very well may have found its way down his legs and up his back. Try changing that little present in the middle of the night without getting feces all over yourself and everything else.
Aside from all the bodily functions, lack of sleep and massive lifestyle change that a new baby brings to your household, I would say that the most challenging thing thus far has been the crying. Babies cry to communicate…that’s good information, assuming that you understand what they’re trying to say to you. When you’ve tried everything you know to do and he still cries what do you do? Some say you let them cry it out. Some say that you hold them and love them. Both schools of thought have their points. My point is that this little “bundle of joy” will take over your life…if you LET it!
Do you remember the first months or even years of your life? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Do you remember crying when you were 2 months old? Yeah, me neither. I also don’t remember what my parents did or didn’t do as a result of my incessant crying (my mom affectionately tells me about how I used to cry from 5-7pm every night). In an effort to save your sanity, your marriage, and, most importantly, your sense of self you need to decide how you’re going to deal with your newborn. He needs food, love, an occasional diaper change and some other minor things to make it through each day. He also has an infinity of things going on in his head, his body, and his world that we have no concept of. He cries. He fusses. He screams! What are you going to do about it?
This has been my struggle…what am I going to do about it? In an effort to remain sane, I’m going to do my best to maintain as much of my sense of self that I possibly can. Yes, I realize that I chose to have a baby and am completely committed to raising him and nurturing him. This does NOT mean that I sit in a pool of spit-up every night with an inconsolable infant in my arms. If he’s been offered everything that he could possibly need and still screams, set him down in another room, turn on that $200 monitor, pour a glass of wine and enjoy dinner with your spouse…or a hot shower…or a chapter out of a good book. Sure, check on him and let him know that you love him and you’re still here, but trust me, that little bugger will consume you if you LET him.
Am I a bad parent? Maybe…maybe not. Am I a bitch? Possibly, I’ve been called worse. What I know I am; however, is a woman that has a husband, a social life, a career, and a strong sense of self, AND a child. That child will always be loved, cared for, have food to eat, a warm place to sleep and a stable home to live in, but if I let him take over every part of me then he will NOT have the strong, self-assured, successful, sane mother that conceived him. He will have a blithering, stressed, overbearing mother that will end up bugging the shit out of him once he’s old enough to realize it.
Sure, there’s a lot of research out there that says you should hold him all the time, soothe him while he cries, and respond to his every need. I’m not debating that; what I’m saying is that as a mother, you have to find some balance between being Mommy, and being who you ARE as a person. You are a spouse, a girlfriend, a friend, a party-goer, an athlete, whatever. Hold on to all that. Don’t let it get swallowed up in every little thing that you THINK defines being a mom. You owe it to your child to be a strong and independent woman! Trust me, he’ll thank you for it later!