Tag Archives | motherhood

Screw the “Selfish” Crap Already

Someone posted this gem on Facebook recently.  I won’t even go into the whole working mothers vs. stay-at-home mothers thing – that it’s still a thing in this day and age is absurd.  The author covers that, and I have little to add.

What I want to talk about is this whole notion of selfishness as it relates to mothers.  It seems like “selfish” is one of the worst insults that can be hurled at a mother, because apparently, the moment one pushes a human being out of her body – no! the moment one’s egg hooks up with an errant sperm (or the moment one’s name is placed under “Mother” on a birth certificate), she is naturally expected to cease having needs, dreams, and desires of her own.  Or, at least she is expected to cease succumbing to any needs, dreams, and desires she may have.  From the moment one becomes a mother, the children must come first.

Well, I’m calling bullshit.  You know what happens when the children always come first, no matter what?  Those children grow up to be entitled little tyrants who expect instant gratification and who believe that they are at the center of the universe.  And their mothers grow into old, resentful shrews full of regrets.

Yes, children are dependent upon the adults in their lives to provide for them, and to ensure their emotional and physical well-being.  And yes, parenting requires sacrifice – I’m not saying it doesn’t.  But where did this idea come from that a good mother is selfless?  And why is the image of the selfless, self-sacrificing mother even a healthy one?

Mothers are human beings with needs and wants, just like human beings who are not mothers.  It should be okay for a mother to put herself first sometimes – yes, even if it means depriving her offspring of something non-crucial.  It should be okay for a mother to pursue an interest that is solely hers, to take time for herself, to have a career, to have a night out, to sit down first instead of last at the table, to take the best steak from the platter, and yes, even to get a boob job.  It should be okay for a mother to pursue her own happiness without being judged negatively.  Selfishness in moderation is not a bad thing.  It means, “I value myself.  I’m worth it.  I deserve happiness and fulfillment.”  What’s wrong with that?

If we truly value women and mothers, then we need to stop this ridiculous expectation of selflessness.  And if we want our kids to grow up to value women and mothers, then we need to set a better example for them.

0 to Adult In the Blink of an Eye

I remember when I brought him home from the hospital, I could hardly believe that they let me take him.  I was to be trusted to care for this tiny human being, no questions asked?  Not that I didn’t think I could do it, but all the same, it was kind of mind-blowing.  I had wanted him for so long, and now that he was here, now that I was really a mother – well, it kind of took my breath away.

When you first have a baby, you really can hardly imagine them ever growing up.  You of course have hopes and dreams for them, and a vague idea of the person you hope they will be, but it all seems so, so far off in the future that it may as well be an eternity away.  But the days, weeks, months, and years march by, and you find yourself stopping to catch your breath and wondering how it could be that so much time has flown by while you’ve been busy raising that tiny little human being.  Before you know it, they’re all grown up, and it’s maybe the most bittersweet thing you’ve ever felt – a gladness and an ache in your heart.

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All of the things he has experienced so far have shaped him in some way – losing a father, gaining a father, having so many siblings, and the list goes on and on.  I don’t even know all the ways in which his life has shaped him, and in many ways, though I’ve known him since before he was born, he’s a mystery to me.  I have so many memories, regrets, triumphs, fears, and hopes for him.

The end of a chapter of sorts, and the beginning of another.

The Annual Family Picture, and Losing My Shit Again

Every year we do a family picture around the holidays – for posterity and to use for our holiday card.  Every year it’s an ordeal.  As you might imagine, wrangling this many kids for a photo is not the easiest thing in the world.  Most years we do the picture ourselves.  Usually on Thanksgiving Day (because most people are enjoying the holiday with their families, it’s a good day to find a nice, deserted location for a photo shoot) we pick a place, dress everyone up, and go, using our good camera on its timer and a tripod.  It usually takes at least an hour, at least a couple hundred shots, plus plenty of coaxing, bribing, and threatening.  By the time we’re done, every one of us is a sweaty, exhausted, cranky mess – and then we go home and gather around the table and eat turkey and grudgingly talk about how great it is to all be together.

This year I wanted to make it a little easier by getting someone else to take the pictures for us – and I figured that if we could get it out of the way before Thanksgiving, then hey!  We could have a stress-free Thanksgiving, right?  So I got in touch with a friend who is a dandy with a camera and she agreed to meet us at the beach yesterday afternoon to photograph our family.

I was out all morning and into the afternoon getting my hair done (I’m gradually going lighter).  As I walked up our front walk to the door, I could hear Michael yelling inside.  I hesitated for several long moments before talking myself into opening the door.  Inside, he was mopping up some mess on the floor, Lilah was crying, and there was a water color paint set scattered all over the dining room table, which the kids have repeatedly been told not to get out without asking.  Apparently they had gotten it out without asking (again), and the predictable spillage and mess occurred, and Michael was yelling because Lilah was refusing to help clean up the mess that she had helped create (not at all an uncommon occurrence).

There was also a torn up piece of painted paper on the front porch, which I asked the girls to go retrieve and put in the trash.

The next hour and a half were spent trying to get myself and Finn and Scarlett dressed and ready for the pictures, as well as hustling the kids along to get themselves ready.  All the while they, of course, are grumbling and bitching.  When I’m finally dressed, I look at the clock and realize it’s 3:40 and we’re supposed to be at the beach at 4:00, and it’s going to take 40 minutes to get there.  Only now does Michael say that he’s going to put his contacts in.  Great!  I think.  Of course you’re going to do that now, when we’re already running late!  (I bit my tongue, though, and only said this in my head.)  I text my friend and tell her we’re running late, and she says no worries, she’s already at the beach.  Great!  I think.  Now she’s sitting around waiting for us!

By the time we finally get out the door (and don’t forget, we have to take two cars!), I’m completely frazzled.  As I’m running kids and sippy cups and shit out to the truck, I see that the piece of paper is still lying on the porch.  I call to the nearest kid, as my hands are full, “Daisy, grab this paper and throw it in the trash!  I asked you guys to do that a while ago.”

A couple more trips back and forth between the house and the truck.  The paper is still lying there.  “Daisy, pick it up,” I say.  This has seriously been like the eighth time I’ve said something about it.

“I didn’t put it there,” she says.

And there it is.  The moment I lose my shit.

“I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF YOU PUT IT THERE OR NOT!  I’M TELLING YOU TO PICK IT UP!!  RIGHT NOW!!  JUST TO BE HELPFUL!!”

I’m conscious that any neighbors in the vicinity can probably hear this.  I don’t particularly care.

“I’M SICK AND TIRED OF TELLING YOU GUYS OVER AND OVER TO DO SOMETHING!  AND I’M SICK AND TIRED OF ALL OF YOU BEING SO UNWILLING TO LIFT A FINGER AROUND HERE TO HELP OUT!!  I’VE HAD IT!!  PICK UP THE PAPER RIGHT NOW.  AND.  THROW.  IT.  A.  WAY.  NOWWWWWWWW!!!!”

She glared at me, picked the paper up and stomped into the house with it in that special way kids have that says “fuck you” without actually mouthing the words “fuck you.”

She stomped back out to the truck a minute later, got in and sat with her arms crossed, glaring daggers at the back of my head (I could totally feel it), and I turned around from the front seat and glared right back at her and hissed, “Lose the attitude.”

Great!  I’m thinking.  Hooray for family pictures!  This is going to be so much awesome fun now that everyone’s in a terrific mood!

Kevin’s in the front seat next to me copping his own attitude.  I just clenched my jaws and looked straight ahead at the road, trying not to cry.  I’m the only one who cares about this, I thought.  It hit me then that every year, I’m the only one who gives a shit about taking a family picture.  And I thought, if all you other people (meaning the kids and even Michael) could just for a minute think about how it must feel for me to be the only person who gives a shit about doing this and getting so little cooperation …

You know?

And that’s the thing.  Why does it matter so little to everyone else just because it only matters so much to me?  Why does it have to be such an ordeal every year?  Because you know what?  (I told them all this in my head as I was driving) I’m really doing this for you!  That’s right, for you ungrateful people.  You, the ones who are so put out  by the whole family picture thing every year – some day you’ll look back on all those pictures and you’ll be wiping a tear from your eye, remembering the good old days when you were growing up.  And let me tell you something else!  If I died tomorrow, you’d be sobbing over my casket and praising Jesus that I made you all take the damn family pictures every year!

Anyway.  So, we got to the beach, and  … well, we’ll see how the photos turned out.  My friend was a super good sport and very patient, and if none of the shots came out good, it won’t have been because of a lack of effort or talent on her part.But seriously.

Fame, Fortune, and Glory Are Mine. Soon I Will Rule the World.

Okay, not really.

But!

Recently, I was invited to be part of a podcast called One Bad Mother.  The hosts of the show had seen Motherhood: the Big, Fat Fuck You on Scary Mommy.  I was very flattered, and pretty nervous and ambivalent about doing a podcast.  It’s one thing to write, and another thing altogether to speak.  And I definitely think I do one far better than the other.

We recorded the show this last Monday via phone.  It was really not a big deal.  After getting over my initial jitters, it really was just like having a phone conversation with a couple of chicks.  The podcast ran yesterday, and you can listen to it here if you care to (I come on around 36.52, and they talk to me for a little over 20 minutes).

That Scary Mommy piece I wrote all those ages ago has certainly brought me some attention.  It now has close to 1.5 MILLION Facebook shares and over a year after it originally ran, it still gets passed around.

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I never dreamed that when I sad down at my laptop and mentally vomited that it would reach so far out into the cyber galaxy.  Good or bad, it has certainly struck a nerve.

There have been plenty of outbursts since that morning over a year and a half ago that I chased Annabelle into her room.  I am still committed to writing honestly and authentically, but some of the nastiness directed my way in response to that post have made me a little more wary about what I cop to online – and I fucking hate that.  I hate that I let it get to me, when I know deep down that we all struggle, we all fail sometimes, all of our kids behave like little shits sometimes, and sometimes the pressure just gets to be too much.  Maybe everyone’s breaking points aren’t the same, and probably everyone’s outbursts don’t look the same, but we all have them.

Anyway, here’s to motherhood and the Internets!

 

Better Mothers

I continue to be perplexed by mothers who pass harsh judgement against other mothers.  I remain baffled as to how anyone can presume to know how anyone else should be carrying out the job of mothering.  Where does this air of superiority come from?  Basic psychology would tell us that superiority complexes generally come from deep feelings of inferiority.  The person who walks around with a stench of bravado is without a doubt attempting to compensate for feelings of insecurity.

And that’s the thing about motherhood: it is rife with insecurity.  Show me a mother who does not at least sometimes second guess herself, who never wonders if she’s doing alright by her kids, who never worries if she’s a good mother or not, who never lays awake at night castigating herself for her perceived failings and swearing to do better tomorrow – then I’ll show you someone who is utterly full of shit.  We pretty much all do this.  If you say that you don’t, I just don’t believe you.

And yet, there are many of us who, despite our own very-well-known-to-ourselves shortcomings and failings as mothers, feel that we are in a position to judge other mothers, and often to blatantly offer other mothers (unsolicited) corrective advice.  As if we are experts.  As if we really know better.

It makes no sense because there is no one Right Way to parent, there is no True Path to successfully getting kids from infancy to adulthood.  We all stumble along the way, we all fuck up from time to time, we all accrue regrets over the years.  But there is no grading system on motherhood – only an imaginary one that we impose on each other.  What is the true litmus test of good parenting?  Part of it is how our kids turn out – the values and ethics they have, their worldview and how they treat other people.  Part of it, too, I think, is what our relationships with our kids are after they’re all grown up.  I feel like I will know I’ve done my job well if my kids still want to spend time with me when they’re all grown up – if they still see me as someone they can turn to, laugh with, share their thoughts and feelings with.

So far, I’m doing okay.

It’s interesting, because I’m pretty sure fathers don’t do this.  I don’t think fathers generally indulge in self-torment about how well they’re doing as fathers.  Maybe it’s because there seems to be far less judgment among fathers against other fathers.  I’m not sure why this is.  Do fathers not take their roles as parents as seriously as mothers do?  Is it a biological or evolutional thing?  Is it actually tied to gender, or just gender roles?  I suspect that it’s largely because, no matter how much we have progressed as a society, women are still responsible for the lion’s share of parenting, and thus still get a very large part of their identity from their role as Mother.  It’s a huge, profound responsibility, raising good, happy, healthy humans.  It’s really no wonder that there is so much insecurity involved.  Sadly – maddeningly – too many mothers use judgement as a way to make themselves feel better about the job they’re doing.  If you can look down on other mothers, it’s a (superficial) way to feel like you’re a better mother.

In any case, here’s my advice to mothers everywhere: next time you feel the urge to harshly judge another mother, stop for a few seconds and remind yourself that you are not her, you do not walk in her shoes, you do not live her life with her unique circumstances, and you are surely screwing up in your own household in some way.  You’re not better, just different.

Oh, Motherhood

mother-and-childrenOh, Motherhood.

I longed for you for all my life . . . there was an emptiness inside that I knew only you could fill.  I longed to hear “Mommy” uttered from the lips of a sweet, rosy babe.  I wanted to belong to someone, utterly and completely, and to have someone belong to me – an unbreakable bond between us, spun from blood, sweat, tears, and love of the purest kind.

You came, oh, Motherhood, and filled that emptiness.  From the moment that first squalling, slippery body emerged from me and into my life, I was changed: euphoric, humbled, and shattered.

Suddenly I realized the vastness of what you would require of me: the courage to be completely responsible for another’s very existence; patience, endurance, self-reflection, humility, forgiveness, determination, selflessness, honesty, and the strength of heart to give love without reservation, knowing that the person in whom I would invest all of this would one day leave me.  Indeed, that is your purpose: to give, and to take away.  As a mother, I am charged with nurturing another human being specifically with the end goal of allowing them to break away from me, and I learned that from the moment a child is born, it is a slow, gradual process of breaking away and letting go.

You have brought out the very best in me, and the very worst in me.  I have learned things about myself through you, oh, Motherhood, that have filled me with pride and fulfillment: realizing that I can scare away my children’s boogeymen, I can kiss away the owchies, I can encourage them to open up and express themselves, I can validate them, I can make sure that they know how loved and valued they are, I can fight like a lioness protecting her cubs.  And I have learned things about myself through you that have filled me with shame and regret: short tempers, lost tempers, ugly words, missed opportunities.

You build me up and tear me down, oh, Motherhood.  Through you, I can fly as high as the stars, and I can plummet to the ground, broken.  But I get up again, cursing you and worshiping you.  You are a part of me now, in every cell and fiber of my being – present in every thought and fear and dream I have.  You and I can never be separated; we are one.

Thank you, oh, Motherhood.

Scarlett is 21 months old

This little girl . . . she is something else.

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When she was an infant she reminded me very much of Joey as an infant because they shared the same temperamental disposition.  Now she reminds me a lot of Annabelle – full of fun and mischief, and into everything.  Always looking for the next good time.

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She’s an excellent sleeper, hates having her teeth brushed, likes to pinch (especially while nursing), dances like nobody’s business, and is pretty spoiled by all of us.  She’s very much a mama’s girl, which I am going to savor for as long as it lasts.

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Finn is especially fond of her, and the two of them are completely in cahoots.  The first thing Finn says when he gets up every morning is, “Scahlett pway?” (that’s play, not pray 😉  Although he copies some of her naughty behavior (like dumping all the books from the bookshelves), in some ways, he’s very much a big brother to her at this point.  He comforts her when she cries (or reports to me, “Mommy, Scahlett cwying!”) and tries to teach her how to say certain things: “Scahlett, say KIWI.”  (She’s a huge fan of kiwis.)  Like drunken rock stars trashing a hotel room, the two of them close themselves in Finn’s room (one of the very few rooms she hasn’t been banned from) every single day and wreck the joint.  I’ll go in there and find them laughing gleefully as they scatter and dump toys, books, and clothes EVERYWHERE.

Ah, youth.

It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves as Scarlett grows and matures.  I hope they always share a special closeness, even though she is destined to pass him up at some point.

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I think back to that Sunday morning so long ago when, on a bizarre hunch, I took a pregnancy test and saw that second line appear, and how I cried and ranted.  I was so upset and scared.  And now, I can’t imagine our family without Scarlett.  Life is a little busier, a little messier, a little noisier, sure.  And a lot fuller.

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Next stop: two years old.

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Book Review: Ghostbelly by Elizabeth Heineman

GhostBelly_stroke_400px Ghostbelly: a memoir
by Elizabeth Heineman

I don’t usually post book reviews on this blog, but this book has affected me so deeply, I want to share it with those of you who follow my musings here.

Every once in a while, a book falls into my hands that rips my heart out a little, and keeps me awake at night.

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka

Ghostbelly is one such book.

Elizabeth Heineman, or Lisa to her friends, has lived an unconventional life, making unconventional choices.  So, it’s not surprising to those who know her when she falls in love anew in her mid-forties and decides to get pregnant at the age of 45.  What might be surprising, however, is that she chooses to have a home birth, eschewing the barrage of unneccessary medical interventions routinely present in the medical model of maternity care and childbirth.  It is not a decision Lisa makes lightly; she agonizes over it, researches it, and ultimately chooses a home birth attended by a certified nurse midwife because Lisa believes in evidence-based practices, and nobody she consults with can offer her any concrete medical reason that she would not be a good candidate for an out-of-hospital birth.  Indeed, regardless of her “advanced age,” she’s extremely healthy and fit and is deemed “low risk” by the hospital midwives she sees through a good part of her pregnancy, as well as her family practice doctor.

After an easy, happy, uneventful pregnancy that continues past her due date, Lisa goes into labor one November evening in 2008.  Something goes terribly wrong during her labor, however, and her longed-for baby, nicknamed Thor, is stillborn.

What ensues is the story of a woman  whose love for the child she never saw draw breath is inseparable from the gut-wrenching grief she inhabits over her loss of Thor.  Making yet more unconventional choices, Lisa demands more than the half-hour allotted time with her dead baby’s body that the medical examiner’s arbitrary protocol allows; she and her partner, Glenn, instead spend six hours with Thor that first morning in the hospital, cradling him, lovingly examining him from head to toe, rocking him, singing to him, and talking to him – as loving parents do with their new babies.

“I see Thor.  I feel him.  I smell him.  They have handed him to me in a blanket, and he is heavy in my arms.  I rock him and smile at him and sing to him and kiss him and inhale him.

“Glenn watches me and cannot understand: I seem happy.

“He is right.  I am happy, because in this strange new life I have just begun, the life of the mother of a dead child, this is what counts as happiness: I have my baby, I am cradling him and talking to him, and they will not take him away in half an hour, and so I am happy.”

***

“This is what I want to do in those six hours.  To take that moment, in which Thor will not grow six hours older, and inhabit it fully.  To fully absorb Thor, because it will be our only chance.

“And because this is so important, other things can wait.  Like crying.  Like thinking about Thor’s absence.  I will have a lifetime to explore Thor’s absence, every inch of it; to acquaint all my senses with it, to inhabit it.  Any time we spend crying now, bewailing his death, will be time lost to things like singing to him, touching him, things we only have a few hours to do.  Thor’s absence will not last just a moment, not even a stretched-out moment.  It will occupy time.  First he will be dead a day, then a week, then a month, then a year.  I will have the rest of my life to explore it, and its exploration will require the rest of my life.  But the time to explore Thor’s absence is not now.  Now is the time to explore Thor’s presence.”

The next day, after an autopsy is performed, Lisa and Glenn visit the funeral home where Thor rests until his burial is carried out.  They are surprised when the funeral director talks about Thor as if he matters, as if he were a person, a real baby, and not just a corpse.  “Uncle Mike” as he becomes known to them, encourages them to visit Thor whenever they want, and even to take him home for visits, which they do.

Lisa, of course, agonizes over what went wrong after such a wonderful, low-risk pregnancy.  Why did Thor die?  She unflinchingly analyzes her choices and the events that led to Thor’s death.  While she came to believe that Thor might not have died had she planned a hospital birth rather than a home birth, she does not condemn home birth or midwifery care as one might expect after such a catastrophic loss; rather, she condemns the alienation and isolation of home birth midwives in the U.S.; if home birth and home birth midwives were not placed on the fringe by society and the medical community, if midwives were treated as colleagues and invited to collaborate with doctors, it is likely that situations like Lisa’s wouldn’t arise.

“I believe Thor is the statistic for unnecessary death in an out-of-hospital setting.

“I believe someone else’s child is the statistic for unnecessary death in a hospital setting.

“I believe that a single unnecessary death during home birth prompts calls for abolition of out-of-hospital midwifery.  I believe that hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in hospitals prompt suggestions for voluntary reform.  I believe the difference lies in the imbalance of power between hospitals and midwives, not the comparative level of risk of home birth versus hospital care.”

Lisa contacted me a few months ago and asked me to read and review her book (I have to say, I am so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to “meet” some wonderful authors this way; Theresa Shea and George Estreich also come to mind), and gave me a synopsis, so I knew going in what the gist of her memoir was.  To be honest, I was a little scared to read it; I expected it to be morbid and maybe even macabre.  It is decidedly neither morbid nor macabre, although it surely takes the reader out of a comfort zone.  On a personal level, this book moved me in so many ways: aside from sharing a name with the author, we share religious views, and I, too, chose home birth (three times) and gave birth to a baby at an advanced age (44).  I can’t help but feel a connection to Lisa and her story, though I’ve never lost a child.

Searingly honest, gripping, and articulately emotional, this is a story that needs to be told – and a story that needs to be read.

I will be interviewing the author in the near future, so be sure to look for it here!  In the meantime, for more information about this author and her stunning memoir, check out ghostbelly.com.

Regrets, Relationships, and Loneliness

I’ve often said that I live my life without regrets.  That’s a lie.

Sometimes regret – a longing for the past, to be able to go back and see a different outcome – descends on me so heavily that it’s like a physical weight on my chest.

Mostly, these feelings have to do with relationships.  And it’s usually the most innocuous, unexpected things that trigger these feelings for me.

This morning, I signed onto Facebook and in my news feed was a status by an old friend about going soon to visit colleges with her daughter.  Reading it – just two or three breezy lines – I was suddenly flooded with memories and regrets.

This friend and I used to be part of a threesome – wayyy back.  The three of us “met” online via an email loop (remember those?), the members of which were all first-time pregnant women, all due in January 1997.  The email loop, which sprung from an AOL pregnancy message board, had about a dozen women in it, but somehow, the three of us became fast friends apart from the rest of the group.  Two of us lived in California, and one lived halfway across the country in Minnesota.  Despite the distance, we carved out time to chat online regularly, we emailed all the time, and we visited one another in person several times a year.  The Minnesota mom would fly out here, usually (she could afford it) and stay at my house or the other friend’s house, and we would have getaway weekends with the babies – and then toddlers and beyond – to Palm Springs, San Diego, and other places.  Kevin and each of their daughters are the same age, born weeks apart.  These women knew me when I was a brand new mother – when I was married to my first husband.  We remained close friends through subsequent pregnancies.  I flew to Minnesota, taking 6-year old Kevin and baby Joey with me, and spent a week there.  I have a photo somewhere of Kevin and her daughter grinning these forced grins through tears at the airport when Kevin, Joey and I were getting ready to fly back home – the two of them didn’t want to part.

And, indeed, things began to fall apart not long after.  As is often the case with threesomes, there is a third wheel, and I felt like I was that third wheel.  Even though I and one of the others lived geographically closer, the two of them seemed to have a lot more in common: they were both Catholic, both teachers, both had baby girls followed by baby boys.  I often felt left out, a misfit, with my lack of any defining religion, lack of college education, my status at the time as a working mom while they were both stay-at-home-moms, my failing marriage and then a dead husband, and then a new husband.  My feelings of being left out, of not fitting in, very well may have been all in my own head, but at the time, it all felt very real and painful.  Spats broke out, and eventually I parted company with the two of them, filled with righteous anger and hurt.

Life went on.  I had other friends.  I had more babies.  Years after the three of us fell out, I received a Christmas card from one of them.  And so began a very tenuous reconnection.  For the last few years, we have continued to exchange Christmas cards – sometimes with a short handwritten note, sometimes not.  We are all Facebook friends, but we never actually communicate via Facebook.  We don’t email or talk on the phone or text.  We’re “friends,” but not really.

Meanwhile, our kids – the ones we were all pregnant with together all those years ago – have grown up.  We are all thinking about college now.

I’ve been in a funk today – ever since reading the one friend’s breezy Facebook post about going to check out colleges with her daughter.  I think where my feelings of regret and sadness come from is just the realization of all the time that has passed – time that can never be gotten back.  Scenes from times we spent together all those years ago flash through my mind.  I thought we would all be lifelong friends.  I thought our kids would be lifelong friends.   I am very cognizant of the fact that relationships come and go – that not every person who comes into your life will stay – in fact, very few will, in my experience.  I accept it on a rational level, but deep inside, I am filled with loss over all the relationships that have come and gone.

It also struck me, as I’ve been sitting here this morning pondering all this, that perhaps the loss of those two particular friendships has always sat on my heart a little heavier because there is something very unique and special about the friends you have when you are just setting out on the path of motherhood.  They knew me when it was all brand new – when motherhood stretched before us all as a great unknown, an adventure.  We commiserated about the same things: diaper rashes and breastfeeding, teething and sleep troubles, sex after having a baby as opposed to before, husbands who didn’t pitch in enough, and so on.  I look back on all that now and want to laugh and cry – how silly that all that was such a big deal then.  If I had only known then what I know now . . . what I wouldn’t give to go back to having those things as the biggest worries I had to deal with . . .

And I was struck with a profound sense of loneliness, too.  Because I don’t have friends like that anymore.  I have some wonderful, close friends – friends I adore, who enrich my life in countless ways.  But I don’t have friends like that – friends who’ve known me since the beginning, friends who started this motherhood gig when I did and are going through the same stages of motherhood that I am.  Because I kept having babies when all of my friends stopped, so the friends I have now are all well past the baby, toddler, preschool, and even early elementary school stages.  It’s struck me how lonely and isolating it is to parent small children without similarly situated friends with whom to to go through it.  And I’m too old and impatient to strike up new friendships – at this late stage – that are based on the shared experience of having very young children.  Frankly, young, new mothers irritate me.  As I’m sure I irritated old hands back when I was new to all of this.

I regret the passage of time, and lost relationships.

No Sleep Training Required

Switching gears here, I thought we all might need a break from controversial subject matter that elicits such heated debate.  So, in the true tradition of mommy blogs, allow me to tell you about my baby’s sleep.

Scarlett has slept with us since birth.  I’m a fan of co-sleeping as long as it’s working for all involved.  In recent months, Scarlett has become a terribly restless sleeper, thrashing and flailing through the night and often making for a sleep-deprived mom.  The main thing, though, is that naps have all taken place in the baby swing since she was an infant because she was such a temperamental baby who wouldn’t sleep in a bassinet.  That’s right – at a year and a half old, she’s still been napping in the swing every day, and starting the night out in it, too.

It was time to take action.  Our dilemma has been the fact that we really don’t have any spare bedroom space, so where to put her?  I finally decided to set up a corner of the playroom as sleeping quarters for her.

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That door at the opens into our bedroom, and there is another door off to the side that opens to the girls’ room, so she’s very close by.

My intention was only to get her to nap in the crib for the time being, and to start the night out there.  I dismantled the swing (the same swing, by the way, that I got for my baby shower when I was pregnant with Kevin, and which every one of my babies has used) and put it away in the garage, so it was sort of do or die, and I was absolutely dreading putting her in the crib for the first time and listening to her scream for hours.  Memories of trying to get Joey to sleep in a crib came flooding back – it was a nightmare.  And temperamentally, Scarlett has been so much like he was as a baby, so I assumed we were in for some drama.

The first time I put her in the crib – last weekend – she cried on and off for about 20 minutes.  Nothing very dramatic.  And then she laid down and slept for two hours.  The first night I put her in it, she protested again for about 20 minutes and then laid down and slept there all night.  I was shocked.

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Throughout this first week in the crib, there have been a few nights when she has woken up crying in the middle of the night and I’ve brought her to bed with us, but as of last night, she has slept in the crib all night for three consecutive nights.  And she doesn’t even protest anymore when I put her down in there.

I think we just really lucked out and hit maybe a small window when she was just ready.

I have to admit I sort of miss her at night.  This is how it goes, the long process of breaking away.

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