When I had Jackson, I was a typical new mom nightmare. Five years later I can say those words, but at the time I didn’t see it. I read every book on parenting that was available. My bedside table was piled high with It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Moms, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Baby Laughs, and The Diaper Diaries. Anything I could get my hands on to tell me how to do this new job that I had just given birth to.
I felt like it was my job to do everything. I hurt myself less than a week after having Jackson because I was doing too much. I thought that because I was the Mom it was my job to do diaper changes, wake up in the middle of the night, get the bottles, feed the baby, clean the house and make the dinners. And while I had my mom to help for the first 10 days, after that I was on my own and I really felt like that was the way it should be.
My mother-in-law tried to help but I didn’t want someone else mothering my child, I didn’t want someone else’s advice. I wanted to do things my way and there was no budging. I wasn’t flexible (OK I’m still not very flexible I need routine and predictability). I knew what things I didn’t want in my child’s life. No walkers, no pacifiers, no, no, no. I had painstakingly reasearched every aspect of parenting and I knew what I thought was best.
Except, I didn’t really. I brought into theories and ways of doing things, when really I was just drowning in advice. Advice that wasn’t really helping. When what I needed was help. I needed an extra set of hands to hold the baby while I showered. I needed someone to wash the ever growing pile of laundry so that I could rest. I needed to ask for help at night so that I wasn’t constantly lifting and moving around, I needed to allow my body to heal. I needed company and adult coversation. I needed to feel like it was okay to leave my house and leave Jackson with someone else. I needed to know that parenting wasn’t a house of cards that I had built and that it wasn’t all going to collapse on me.
I didn’t like the person that I was then. But I couldn’t help it. American parenting seems to be designed to leave us questioning, second guessing and beating ourselves up. Just search the internet, read some blogs, watch the morning news and someone somewhere is telling you, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.
But five years has given me perspective, knowledge and most importantly a amazing support system. I’ve been overwhelmed by the friends who have come through for us since Grace was born. The friends who brought clothes to the hospital or offered up their premie clothes since Grace was so small. The friends who brought dinner or dropped of wine, who’ve checked in via text and Facebook. Those who have run errands for me and picked up things like bras and nipple cream without question. I’ve let my MIL pick Jack up from school or take him for the day. I’ve let my Dad reorganize my cabinets (as painful as that can be) and take Jack on day trips. I’ve had my Mom here every day cooking and cleaning so that I can heal, nurse Grace and rest.
I’m taking all the help that is offered. I’m letting my village do it’s job. I’m saying yes to all the extra hands that want to guide us in these early sleep deprived days. And I’m doing something that felt impossible when Jack was a newborn, I’m enjoying these early, exhausting, unpredictable days of new motherhood.