What I’ve learned as a mother
*I’ve learned to let go. I don’t think of myself as a tightly wound individual, but certain things have made me so. I first noticed it when I was pregnant with Claire. The thought of sharing her with the world made me both sad and angry, and I had no idea why. I carried that into the first few months of her life where I literally never put her down.
I read in Dr. Sears’s book that attachment parenting is good and that co-sleeping is healthy. I, however, took that to a whole new level. I held her 24/7. She slept next to me almost every night. The kid couldn’t put herself to sleep, because I didn’t let her. I held her until her little eyes closed and her breathing slowed. And then, when I’d lay her in her crib, she’d quickly wake up, because heaven forbid I wasn’t holding her. I remember calling my Mom in a whisper because she was sleeping in her crib! (It lasted 15 minutes.)
Yes, indeed Claire could in fact live without me touching her. I just didn’t realize that.
Because of this, when Luca was born, the thought of always holding him made me cringe. So I didn’t.
With Claire I was all the way to the right and with Luca I was all the way to the left. With Mae, I’m right in the middle.
*Mothering is hard. It’s not the baby that makes it that way, though. It’s the fact that we, as women, have to change everything that we already had taken x amount of years to learn. I was independent. I worked 40 hours a week. I showered when I wanted and if I wanted to go to the store, I went. Babies, in the beginning few months, are simple creatures. They eat, sleep, and poop. But I, being me, made a huge production of it all. Because mentally, it is exhausting. A trip to the store can still be simple, but I, in my head, would think: I have to make sure the baby just ate, is dry, isn’t too tired, strap it in its car seat, lug that to the car, drive to the store, make sure the baby doesn’t cry, what if the baby cries?!, drive back home, lug the groceries into the house, what if the baby cries?!, lug the car seat back into the house…
I’m having an anxiety attack just thinking about that.
*Last time I checked, a baby doesn’t die from crying. I had to learn that when Luca came along. If Claire and Luca would cry simultaneously, I’d go to Claire, because Luca was a baby. He’d get over it. Claire? She’d hold a grudge.
*I’ve learned that feeling isolated is normal. How many times a day do I feel completely alone, yet am surrounded by little bodies? A million? Because I do. And it’s OK. Because that’s the way it is. Unless your next door neighbor is also a new mother and doesn’t annoy you and is home the same time you are…are you really going to drag yourself out multiple times a day to avoid that isolating feeling? If so, kudos to you. Maybe it’s because I hate driving on my beat up back road that’s got me this way, but that whole driving places with baby scenario I painted above…well, it makes me nuts. So I stay in and deal. And it takes its toll. (However, with Luca, all I wanted to do was be isolated. That’s not normal…that was PPD.)
*It’s OK to ask for help. It really is. Growing up, I was responsible, reliable and had it *mostly* all together. When I had Claire, I did it all. I was SUPER MOM! I can do it all! I’m amazing! I’m perfect! I’m…so freaking tired. I felt like a deflated balloon. Yet, still, I never asked for help. Why on Earth would I need help? I’m supposed to be tired. I’m supposed to be isolated. Showers are supposed to happen once a week. And most of all, I’m supposed to be the freaking woman.
You know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a kid?” Well, they ain’t kidding.
*It’s OK to be a little let down that it’s not all you thought it would be. I thought my life would be complete when I had a baby. That I was a better person for it. Because I wanted it so badly. I wanted to be a Mom. And while I loved the stuffing out of Claire, the constant feeling of defeat beat the ever loving “I love being a Mom” out of me. Just because the moment I had Claire meant I was a Mom, didn’t mean I was a Mom.
And that’s OK.
Claire and I grew up together.
*There is such a thing as “Me Time.” I know that it’s busy being a Mom, but honestly, I don’t know a single one out there that doesn’t have 20 or 30 minutes a day to do something for themselves. It took me 2 1/2 kids to learn this, but when Mae was just the size of a tadpole, I really took it into high gear.
For me, it was the gym. That’s my Me Time.
*It is humanly possible to still be an individual. I never wanted to be that woman. The one who is always all about what Little Johnny is doing. I wanted to be the woman who has a life, with kids. Not the woman who’s life is her kids.
And I don’t think that makes me any less of a mother for saying that. I know that in about 20 years, my kids’ll all be off at college or whatever and it’ll be just Matt and I. And that’s good! But I don’t want to wait for 20 years to ‘begin’ my life with Matt. I want my life to always be us. All of us. All five of us. So when my kids go off and start their newest part of their lives, it’ll just kind of flow on.
I love my kids and what they do. I don’t belittle any of that. And I’ll brag with the best of them. But I’m still Cassie. It’s who I am.
*Conform your kids to you. I worked my life around Claire. Put it on hold. For a six month old. I let a six month old run my life. I played god awful kids music and put my Bob Marley on the shelf. I had Noggin on instead of watching the news.
No way. I understand Claire has taekwondo on Tuesdays and that Luca likes to watch Bubble Guppies at 11, and nap time is always at 1, but that’s it. That’s where the little ones stop running my life. I go to the gym and the kids have a great time at the daycare. Hell, they ask when we’re going! (Talk about a personal motivator!) We make decisions together. But just because a 3 year old says she wants to watch a show doesn’t mean she has to. Little does she know that painting a picture or dancing to Lady Gaga is just as fun.
*Kids go with the flow. It’s us adults that have sticks up our asses. As long as I’d have a general outline to the day, that’s all my kids cared about. They eat at the same time and nap at the same time, but life just fills in the gaps.
*There’s no such thing as taking too many pictures. Photos saved my sanity and filled in the missing spots of baby Luca. ‘Nuff said.
*It’s OK to love the snot out of your kids. You should. You really should. Even if it takes some time. Because sometimes it does. I know.
*Speaking of snot, snot is a commonality in life. It just is. If it’s not one kid, it’s the other one. Or if you’re extra lucky, it’s both.
*It’s OK to walk away for a minute. Collect yourself. Tantrums happen. Just like crying, kids don’t die from throwing a tantrum. So walk away.
*Just because it works for her, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Comparing is the worst thing for us, as mothers, to do. So just try not to do it.
Doesn’t mean you won’t. ‘Cause I do. All the damn time. But I’ve learned a lot from other mothers. Things I use and things I say, “What? Really? Why?” That’s OK if it makes us better. If it just makes us snarky, then it’s probably bad.
*Other mothers aren’t the enemy. Hell hath no fury like a mother who judges another mother. That karma boomerang’ll come knocking you down.
(I’m speaking from experience.)
*It is possible to contain your children. They don’t have to act like they’re two all the time. I always tell myself, “Cassie, grow a damn backbone. He’s 1, you’re 26. Pretty sure you’ll win every time.” That is why my kids are generally good kids. You’re the adult. Take responsibility and be smart. Don’t let your kids walk all over you and don’t let them be that kid. You know what I’m talking about. (Of course, we all have our meltdowns and the, ‘this never happens to me,’ moments. Those suck. Because then I’m sure everyone thinks my kids are bad all the time. Kids are kids. Shit happens.)
*Personal pep talks are a must. Just do it.