I said to a friend today that some days I feel totally inept at this motherhood thing. I keep wondering, “Is he eating enough?”, “sleeping enough?”.And when he’s crying “does he want his binkie? His bottle? His diaper changed? His mommy?” I’m constantly asking myself am I doing this right or, am I fucking him up without even knowing it by letting him sit in his bouncy seat and stare at my wine rack (while I cook dinner) because it seems to amuse him. Will he be in therapy because I take him into the bathroom with me when I shower? Will he have repressed memories of mommy going potty?
I’m not one to believe the idea of a child later lying on a therapists couch saying these things. But you get very little feed back from an infanct. A smile here, a coo there. Unlike any other job there is no monthly progress report to let you know where you need improvement. Everyday I’m just flying by the seat of my pants hoping that the decisions I make are the right ones.
What makes it harder is that there is so much research on babies these days. Babies who sleep on there backs are less likely to die of SIDS. Babies who start solids later are less likely to be obese. Babies who are breast fed have less allergies. And for every bit of research you read there is a friend or family member to contradict it. Friends telling me, “I breast fed my son and he is allergic to everything” or “you and your brother slept on your belly and were fine”. What is a new mom to do?!
I try to read as much as I can. I subscribed to American Baby, Parents, Parenting. I read every childcare book I can get my hands on. My husband mocks me when i suggest we try something, “did you read that in a book?”. But sometimes I feel like I have no other option. And so far the books I’ve read have been helpful. I think I read the books because so much of what moms don’t talk about is in these books. All of my new mom friends have said to me “why doesn’t anyone talk about this stuff”. Instead people tell you things like “it’s all worth it” or “once you see that baby your heart will open up and fill with the most wonderful joy and everything there after will be sunshine and rainbows…”. Bleh!
Personally I will never and I feel that no one should ever utter the words, “It’s all worth it” or “Once you see his smiling face you will know what a supreme joy it is” (or any other variation) to anyone who is a new mom or soon to be mom. Ladies let’s be honest everyone knows that all the crying and spit up stains are worth it. But we are doing new moms a diservice by saying this. We need to be honest. The first few weeks are rough. You are recovering, the baby is adjusting to the world, no one is sleeping. It’s a trying time even when it is wonderful. My cousin said to me yesterday, “the first year sucks”. And i wanted to throw my arms around her and hug her. Finally someone had said what I had been feeling all these weeks. That while the first year is a wonderful time of development for you and your baby much of it just sucks. Colic, teething, spit up, explosive poops, incesant crying. None of these can even be rationalized as wonderful. So here, I’m saying it parts of the first year just suck, you have been warned.