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Today, is a good day so far.
Today, I feel like I have magical powers that suddenly make me able to do more than feed baby, watch Price is Right, feed baby, change diaper, feed baby, cram sandwich in face, feed baby, repeat.
Today, I finally started my laundry. I own far too many clothes, as evidenced by the THREE loads I have to do today of just my own personal belongings. THREE! Geez. I should say I need to cut down, but this is after the Nesting Purge of 2010.
Today, I have successfully eaten 2 meals … hot ones even. One of them was remarkably healthy and didn’t even taste that terrible.
Today, there are no dirty dishes in my sink. I’ve washed everything as it was dirtied. Even the bottles and breastpump parts (which I HATE to wash) are clean.
Today, I am the hippie incarnation of Betty Crocker. I made whole wheat-flaxseed-dairy free dark chocolate cookies and granola that someone in my house commented smelled like horse food it had so many grains in it.
Today, I don’t feel like making dinner. I think I used up all my go-go juice on everything else.
Today, I got really excited about the amount of breastmilk that was in the pump bottle at the end of pumping time (a time that I loathe, for the record).
Today, I was slightly nauseated with myself for being excited about the ounces of liquid that get squeezed out of my chest. Oh, former self, what in the world would you think of me now?
Today, my adorable baby has spent some fabulous time making faces at her Daddy.
Today, I missed sitting on the couch doing nothing but holding her and yelling at the idiot on the Showcase Showdown who thinks you can get a truck, 2 vacations, and a wave runner for $20K.
Today, today, we hope for another good one tomorrow.
I know it’s really unpopular to call to the carpet other people’s parenting choices. I know you know I don’t give two shits about what is or is not popular. I will lay out this disclaimer, though: I am not immune to criticism. I make choices that I am ready to defend at all times. I think that’s a healthy way not to follow the lemmings off the cliff. If this post pisses you off enough that you want to have an epic comments throw down, you’re more than welcome, but do me a favor and spare me the “I’ve been a parent for 872 times longer and so I must be right” crap, ok? Kill me with your rapier wit instead.
Moving on …
I have figured out the source of all that is wrong in the world. Why are people so rude and impatient? Why are we so demanding? Why must we have instant gratification?
That’s my buzz word for the day to mean what I really want to call Selfish Parenting. It’s the self-centered need to control all things pregnancy, baby, and child in such a way as to not be uncomfortable, unhappy, or inconvenienced by the process and it’s driving me frickin’ crazy.
Tired of being pregnant? Want to have the baby on a Monday? Unhappy at the prospect of waiting around for a month surrounding your due date unsure as to when the big moment is coming? Scared of your water breaking on your fancy schmancy duvet cover?
Schedule an induction, duh. Who needs nature or biology or a couple million years of historical proof that babies come when they’re supposed to when you could pull our your Franklin planner and squeeze in that baby between the end of your Pilates class and the beginning of the ‘spring busy season’ at The Club?
Afraid of what nursing will do to your breasts? Unhappy at the prospect of being at the beck and call of your newborn every hour of every day from now until his first birthday? Ready for someone else to ‘take over’ the night time responsibilities?
Crack open that “free gift” (by which they really mean “free marketing tool designed to undermine your breastfeeding relationship”) of formula and do it to it. Who cares about nutrition and biology (theme?)? It’s your choice you’ll tell those who look at you critically. You tried and it didn’t work you’ll tell yourself. Let’s be honest, though … you didn’t want to nurse that baby in the first place. Well, you did, until you realized it means you have to be ready to whip out your breasts every minute of every day for the next 52 weeks. It sounds fun and all until you’re 2 weeks in with cracked nipples that haven’t gone 3 hours without someone’s mouth on them. Then it’s no longer convenient.
SIDE BAR: There really are some women who cannot for some physical reason breastfeed their child. I confess that mine will not actually nurse, but be damned she still gets breastmilk because I pump constantly and bottle feed her instead every. single. time. To those of you who cannot breastfeed because your boobs are broken, at ease. I’m not pointing fingers at you. You don’t have to make excuses. It’s the ones with excuses that should check themselves.
So your baby likes to be held. She falls asleep in your arms and you wait and wait and just as you sit her down, she’s awake again (and screaming …). Are you tired of picking her back up 10 minutes after you put her down? Are you ready to ‘get back to normal’ and start some kind of ‘routine’ or ‘schedule’? Does your newborn not know that your time is precious and that you have other things to do than hold her?
Best solution ever? Sleep training. Dude. You put the baby down when you want. It goes to sleep when you want it to so you have plenty of evening time for important things like dishes, Sudoku, and reruns of America’s Next Top Model. You deserve a break, right? The tricky part is when the schedule you want isn’t the one your newborn wants. Eh, no biggie, just let the kid cry. It’ll fall asleep eventually, right?
This of course sets aside relatively important ideas like … oh, newborns cannot manipulate you developmentally. They aren’t smart enough yet to stay awake just to spite you. Oh, and babies are programmed to want security that they can largely only understand as physical closeness. Ooooh, and my favorite … baby brains are not designed to sleep when you want them to. None of that matters, though. You’re ‘training’ them, after all. It must be good for them.
Does your baby insist on eating every 2 hours? Does it eat and eat and eat some days, seemingly trying to consume as much fluid as humanly possible? What in the world does that kid need with that much food when it’s just going to make wet diapers out of it anyway? How on Earth do you get your kid to go longer between meals like you do?
Solids! Yes! Load up that bottle with cereal, puree some avocados, get out the baby spoons. Clearly if it just keeps eating it must need something to make it feel full for longer. Ignore the part where your kid is 4 weeks old. Who cares about the risk of allergies or choking? Toss out the reality that most of the remaining traditional societies as well as your great-great grandmother would think you’re c-r-azy. You don’t have time for feeding this kid all the time. You have important things to do.
All of these relatively popular occurrences point to an ongoing problem on a societal level. We are go-go-go-now-now-now kinds of people. We want to have a perfect pregnancy with a perfect baby who sleeps perfectly and wears cute clothes and never cries long enough for it to stop being adorable and sleeps in a crib in another room so we don’t have to worry about it and who never learns to read radical ass bloggers who say highly unpopular shit in painfully run-on sentences. We don’t want a mess. We don’t want a needy baby. We don’t want to stay in any one developmental stage too long. We don’t want to be compared unfavorably to other moms with other babies. We want the new, the now, the hip. We shrug off the traditional, the practical, and the reality.
Babies are all consuming. They require 100 percent of you 100 percent of the time unless you’re going to ignore some crucial need in favor of your own gain. It’s a trade off you have to be ready for, and before I have to hear all about how I think I’m some kind of badass …
I am an imperfect parent. We all are. I get pissed off when my kid keeps crying and I don’t know why. I resent the 83rd time I have to get out of bed in one 2 hour period when she needs nothing more than a hand on her belly to let her know I’m there. I hate spending 30 minutes out of every 3 hour block attached to a torture device that is slowly destroying my nipples. This does not at all change the fact that I will continue to get up, grow up, and do it every single day without fail. I will not stop because life gets uncomfortable or inconvenient and any person with a parenting ‘technique’ or ‘class’ or ‘manual’ that advocates some new ‘method’ or ‘style’ that suggests I should make MY life easier can piss up a rope.
So, yea. There it is. Call me judgmental, but I’m pretty positive all of this me-me-me craziness is contributing directly to the decline of social grace. Don’t get me wrong, I have about a million other ways the world is going to pot, but this one bothers me the most right now because … 1) it’s very much my life every minute of every day, 2) I’m a highly passionate hippie and 3) I read far too many online parenting communities that are full of Designer Parents all seeking validation from others for their terribly selfish choices (ps, if you have to seek validation for what you’re doing, it’s probably the wrong thing … that need for someone else to tell you it’s ok is your brain telling you not to do it … just sayin’).
I don’t ever want to be one of those parents. I don’t even want to know them, honestly. I should really stop reading their whiny crap online. I’m certain I can find something better to do with my occasional 10 minute breaks.
(Ohhhh, and remember haters, I have the mystical power of the “Delete Comment” button …)
I am an inherently guilt-ridden person. It isn’t for any real good reason, but I internalize expectations (whether mine or someone else’s for me) and feel terribly when I don’t meet them (even if the person they belong to doesn’t care that I fell short). This guilty feeling is tied pretty strongly to my anxiety levels, which although manageable are kind of intense sometimes. It’s going to snow next week? Anxious. I forgot to mail the electric bill early? Anxious. I hear sirens? Anxious. My desk is a little disorderly? Anxious anxious anxious. This Type A hyper aware craziness will likely kill me one day, probably.
4 (almost 5) short weeks into being someone’s Baby Mama and I’ve managed to feel guilty most of the time. First it was that she wouldn’t latch appropriately. I’ve been the World’s Loudest Mouthed Advocate of Breastfeeding and my child will. not. latch. Initially I blamed her immature suck/swallow at birth, but shortly after that cleared up it became clear it was in fact not her abilities but my anatomy that were keeping us at odds.
Is there anything I can do about this anatomical abnormality? No. Do I still pump exclusively so she can get breast milk from a bottle instead? Yes. Does this abate my feeling terrible about not being able to feed her the way I intended? Nope.
Then there was last weekend. I left AverageBaby with her Daddy and went out with my brother to see our favorite. band. on. the. planet. who hasn’t played together in almost a year (and whom we didn’t think would play together again ever …). She was in completely capable hands. She was safe. She was happy. I was doing pretty well with this whole ‘leaving your baby for the first time ever’ deal until I got a picture via text message on my phone of AverageBaby all adorably wrapped up in a towel post-bath.
But. But …
I’ve been there for all her baths. I thought they were going to wait for me to get home and do it the next day. I’m not supposed to miss these things.
Why hello there, guilt, how have you been?
Now we have the icing on the cake. My dear sweet baby is covered in rashy bumps. They started out looking like a regular case of ‘baby acne’ and have since morphed into an increasingly terrible looking rash. She has other symptoms as well, and the math adds up to a likely dairy protein sensitivity. I’m immediately going dairy-free to try to help her and I couldn’t have known any earlier than now (it’s not like they come with manuals that say, “This one is dairy intolerant. Good luck.”).
Yet still … guilty.
Every time she cries and grunts and looks miserable, I feel terrible. I know I didn’t do anything to her on purpose. I know I couldn’t have known ahead of time. I know it wasn’t intentional. None of this stops me from feeling like the Worst Parent Of The Year because she gets that dairy protein directly from me, from the cheese and ice cream and milk chocolate I’ve been putting in my mouth for weeks.
I could melt into a puddle right here. Or hide behind a rock. I know there’s some degree of “Mommy Guilt” in every parenting relationship, but I probably should have considered how it would co-mingle with my already persistent need to be anxious and tense about expectations in the first place.
And none of that placating, “It’s ok. You couldn’t help it.” crap, ok? It doesn’t make me feel better. I see every comment like that as an excuse for why I didn’t make the grade. I know that’s irrational. I’m working on it …
Helllllllooooo, baby close up.
That’s right, friends, The Squishy has arrived. Thus far, the world hasn’t come to an end, so I’m hoping my brother’s prediction that I was carrying the Anti-Christ was slightly inaccurate … or at least that we have until she hits puberty.
Ah yes, you heard that correctly. She. The Squishy is a baby girl. Please know that I’m trying to hold back the urge to yak all over the pink explosion that has come to my house. We intentionally didn’t know the sex of the baby so we could hold off the gendered color coding as long as possible. That lasted, oh, a day after she was born. I try to temper all the pepto pink with blue rocket ship crib sheets and Beatles onesies. Though, I won’t lie, it’s mucho bueno to not have to explain my fascination with putting bows and clips and assorted other accoutrements into this child’s crazy hair. I’d still totally do it if she were a boy. I’d just have a lot more ‘splainin’ to do.
So that makes me someone’s mother. (gag …) I still can’t say that word out loud. Remember how long it took me to say the word pregnant out loud? Yea, same problem with this one. I am having a terrible time. I don’t call myself any of those familiar maternal names. I cringe a little when other people do. I’m still adjusting to the idea. I know, I know, I had 9 months (ok, TEN MONTHS!) to get used to the idea, but I never got around to it, ok? I’m working through it. Or trying to.
The Squishy has been here almost 3 weeks. She was born in the early morning on the last day of January, giving her 1/18 due date the proverbial finger. She weighed in at a perfectly respectable 8lbs, 4.40z rather than the 198lbs the OBs kept predicting. I was in labor forever, approximately. I will most certainly regale you of that story in the near future.
In the mean time, I’ll be in and out spending my days surfing my Google Reader from my phone while feeding a hilarious face-making baby at 4am, changing 1 million wet (cloth! duh.) diapers, and trying to acclimate to my new reality. I’ll be back …