Am I Doing This Right and Other Important Questions
Am I a bad mom? Before you answer, hear me out.
Points against: 1) We don’t breastfeed anymore.* 2) Joe and Mars visited family for the weekend without me and I reveled in it (I did have the stomach flu the whole time, so my revelry looked more like… er… death.). 3) I don’t love this tiny baby phase. I just don’t. I don’t know what he wants half the time and there are only so many bouncing-laps I can make around the kitchen table with him before going insane.
Points for: 1) Formula is nutritionally sound and he eats wonderfully. 2) When Joe and Mars walked in the door yesterday, both grunting to each other, it sounded like home to me. 3) He’s not lacking for stimulation, as I’m constantly waving new things at him to see if anything other than bounce-laps will entertain his growing brain.
So am I a bad mom or just a mom? Instagram tells me there are new moms out there who love being new moms. They embrace their new, softer bodies. Their enthusiasm for the role of MOM makes their eyes bright and their skin glow through their (presumed) tiredness. They put on cute stretch pants and make-up and go out for brunch with their babies, somehow overriding the internal voices that scream warnings about public spaces and influenza.
And, yes, my own Instagram feed isn’t exactly a peek into reality. Because when Mars is screeching and I feel like I’m going to pass out, it doesn’t occur to me to snap a pic.
The moms (with mom-nesia?) have told me to enjoy this phase before it’s gone and I’m trying faithfully to abide. I’m locking into my memory that sweet, waxy scent of his hair, the heaving sounds of his sighs, and way his warm body melts into my tummy when he relaxes in my lap. But I’m also hyper-aware of the pee (and, yeah, poop) running down the wall behind his dresser, the piercingly high octave of his “panic” cry, and the surprising sharpness of his nails when they claw at my chest.
Being home alone with him all day is a practice in presence, patience, and prioritization. Sometimes I do it well and sometimes I fail, as Mars and I have ups and downs together and half the laundry mysteriously ends up in the tub. The 1:1 adult-newborn ratio is some tricky math. (Special and enormous shout-out to my own mom, who – during one of my “fail” weeks – dropped her own life to fly out here and help me with mine.)
So when Mars and I are alone, I’ve taken to un-gritting my teeth and whispering “delight, delight, delight” to myself – because I truly want to take delight in all his milestones, even when they’re loud and squirmy. And I’m trying to remember that one day soon, he’ll express delight in something instead of angst, and I have a feeling it’s going to rock my world.
Until then, we’ll clock some more laps around the kitchen table and I’ll try not to muse too hard on what kind of mom I am. Because, honestly, we have more pressing questions to consider. Like, what is that new smell and where is it even coming from?
*Breastfeeding deserves its own post, I think.
Hang in there. And use the tag breastfeeding in your searches on wordpress blogs, you will find some support there.
I nursed my first born 13 years ago for 6 months and he weaned himself, but I had a lot of pain with him. My second went 18 months and I thought she’d never stop…but she too weaned herself. Give yourself all the time you need. Good luck!
Oh…Dear Ashleigh…You brought me back…22 and 25 years ago I was so tired and unsure…which is what ALL MOMS ARE!! Actually getting a shower in was quite the accomplishment and some days when I knew that someone else was holding the baby I never wanted that shower to end! Some Moms do love this stage…the infant that never tells you what they want or need…some of us were frustrated wrecks. My cousin told me of a saying that she turned to on her refrigerator…it read…This is a phase, this is a phase, this is a phase, they will outgrow it, I will outlive it, this is a phase.You are in what I felt was the most challenging phase of being a Mom…all of that uncertainty will grow more faint in your memory as you and Mars get into somewhat of a groove. Your Mom LOVES helping you, that I know for sure…You will be so excited when the weather turns warmer and you two can take those long and lovely stroller rides. So admire your honesty and the awe that you feel when you look at your baby, Mars…<3
Ahh, thank you, Nancy! I’m going to add, “this is a phase” to my mental arsenal. Mars seems to enjoy (or not hate) the outdoors, even in this bitter cold, so we are eagerly awaiting those warmer walking days!
It’s the hardest job in the world. It does get easier – and harder – but the new hard isn’t as bad as the last one because you know him better. For such a tiny little thing, they sure turn your life upside down! But he’s thriving – and you’ll feel better and more comfortable day by day. You’re doing an amazing job.
❤ Thank you. I love that — "the new hard isn't as bad as the last one because you know him better."
My own mothed has admitted to me that she took little delight in our infancy. It wasn’t until we were old enough to have intellectual conversation when she valued our time together. Moms prefer different stages of life. You sound completely normal (and AMAZING 🙂 !
Ah, I love your honest mom! She raised an awesome woman, so I’ll take heart in that. And yes, Joe and I have tried talking to Mars about physics and body awareness, but he doesn’t seem interested yet….
You’re doing it right 🙂 As I read on Tiny Buddha yesterday, “This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass!” Motherhood, for me, is a study in comfort, discomfort, joy, pain, faith and panic. Celebrate what you can and learn from the rest!
❤️ I love that; thank you.