Month 5: Mysteries of the Universe

How can I love someone so much who’s only been alive for 4 ½ months? I have lettuce in my fridge older than that.

How can I love someone so much who’s constantly grabbing fistfuls of my hair and pulling REALLY HARD?

How can I love someone so much whose idea of fun is cramming his socks into his mouth?

How can I change a sopping wet diaper, undershirt, and sleeper* without opening both eyes when I can’t cross my bedroom without banging my shin on the bed?

How can the baby nurse, burp, and repeat without opening his eyes when he couldn’t find his own foot until recently?

How can I be bored to tears some days when I’m too busy to brush my teeth?

How can I be lonely when I am never alone anymore?

How can I be giddily happy and so sad I can’t breathe in the same day?

How does spit-up get in the baby’s ear when he’s lying on his stomach?

How can the baby be crying hysterically one second and dead asleep the next?

How can the baby grow 6 inches taller in 4 months and his hair not grow a millimeter?

How come on the rare occasions the baby sleeps through the night I’m wide awake worrying that something’s wrong?

*Update: Huggies Overnites = Godsend.


Month 5: Confessions of a New Mom

You know I’m starting to get my act together when I post more than once a month. I feel compelled to report on a disturbing trend I’ve noticed among my women friends – the tendency to beat themselves up for anything and everything.

Take my one friend, a working mother of two whose home is always tastefully adorned with seasonal decorations. She beats herself up for not being able to fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans. Then there’s another friend, well into her third trimester and still working, who feels bad about herself for not getting to the gym more. Another new mom admitted to feeling like a slacker because she sent out store-bought invitations to a shower she’s hosting.

Come on, ladies, lighten up on yourselves! I’ve had the same vase of fake cherry blossoms in my living room since last spring. I still eat ice cream every night even though I’m no longer eating for two. And if someone gives me a cute gift bag that hasn’t been written on, damn straight I’ll regift it!

Still, I am sort of embarrassed to admit all this (notice I’m only doing it anonymously on the Internet), which I guess proves my point that we women are too hard on ourselves. And even though we know we shouldn’t, we constantly compare ourselves to other people. So I’m going to make all those self-haters out there feel better about themselves. I’ve drawn up a nice long list of all my shortcomings as a mother. Read it and gloat (or recoil in disgust, your choice):

I drink fully caffeinated coffee, wine, and eat spicy food, even though I am breastfeeding.

I watch all the morning shows while Miles plays on the floor in front of the TV, even though I know the AAP recommends no TV, ever, for children under 2.

I didn’t play classical music or read to my baby in utero; since he’s been born, I’ve only read him a book about 4 times.

Sometimes I go several hours without talking to Miles (not counting “boogety-boo” and “Who’s the cutest boy?”).

I don’t always make people wash their hands before they touch my baby.

If Miles leaks pee onto a particularly cute outfit, I sometimes dry it with the hairdryer rather than change his clothes.

My baby sometimes wears the same socks two days in a row.

I did not once wash his bouncy seat during his first three months of life, despite several diaper leakage incidents.

When Miles was really tiny, I would bite his fingernails rather than attempt the scary nail clippers.

I pick my baby’s nose instead of using the suction-bulb thingie.

Just so you don’t think I’m totally gross, I do bathe my son regularly (OK, semi-regularly) and Purell my hands after I change his diapers. Although just the other day, I overheard a woman at yoga talking about how you’re not supposed to use antibacterial products. Something about killing off the good bacteria, too? Sigh. Add it to the list . . .


Month 5: Had a Bad Day

You know how magazines are always featuring these successful working moms who effortlessly balance their careers and families? Of course their lives aren’t as perfect as the articles make them out to be, but I wonder if those moms ever have days like the one I had the other week.

I decided I was ready to start working again. Not full time, just enough to earn a little bit of money on the side. Since I’m a freelance writer who works from home, I figured this would be pretty doable. Especially since I’ve hired a babysitter two afternoons a week.

So I accepted a couple of short assignments. Then I set up a meeting, asked the babysitter to come a little early that day, ironed some non-drawstring pants, and (gasp!) blow-dried my hair. I waited until the last possible minute to put on my white shirt. (I’ve learned a thing or two by now about the digestive habits of babies.)

That was the day the babysitter’s bus was running behind schedule, for the first time ever. When she finally arrived, I tossed the baby into her arms and dashed out the door. In the car, I immediately noticed a foul smell. Was that … ? Could it be … ? Noooo … Did I accidentally drop a dirty diaper into my purse?

As the car filled with a horrible odor, I looked down at my shoe and saw that I had stepped in a disgusting deposit left in our yard by the neighbor’s dog. Not just a little bit, either. A huge, gooey gob stuck to my shoe and, by now, ground into the floor mat. I pulled over and, while cursing like a sailor, attempted to scrape the crap off my shoe with an old napkin I found in the glove compartment. Wouldn’t you know it, the baby wipes and Purell I’ve been carting around for months were conveniently packed in my diaper bag – at home. The more I tried to clean up the mess, the worse it got, and the worse it smelled. I cried. I cursed some more.

And then – what else could I do? – I called and cancelled my meeting. Then I cried some more and felt very sorry for myself. How had I ever thought I could do this working mom thing? Who was I kidding? After that I drove to the mall and bought myself a new pair of shoes. I figured I deserved them.

While Dog Poop Day ranks right up there, it may not actually be the worst day I’ve had since I became a mother.

Other bad days include:
The time our basement flooded (again!) and C. accidentally unplugged the freezer to plug in the Shop-Vac and ruined my whole stash of frozen breastmilk.

The Sunday we finally managed to get ourselves to church on time and then Miles had a diaper blowout minutes into the service and I hadn’t packed another outfit since we were only going to be away from home for approximately an hour.

The day (OK, today) that I left the cap off the baby’s vitamin drops – a sticky, dark-brown, foul-smelling liquid – and spilled half the bottle all over the beige carpet in the family room.

But you know what? Moms aren’t the only ones who have bad days. Babies have them, too. I don’t know why that surprises me. Maybe because I figure that without checking accounts or stretch marks, they have nothing to stress about.

But some days, for no apparent reason, Miles is in a bad mood. Even if he’s had his nap, just been fed, and not wearing a shirt with a scratchy tag. Inevitably, that will be the day I decide to take him to the gym and they page me three times during my 20-minute Stairmaster session: “Will Miles’ mom please report to childcare.” Then the next day, same scenario, only he’ll be shrieking with glee and grinning like a maniac.

Could I learn something from my little munchkin about accepting that there will be bad days and that every tomorrow is a new chance for a better one? One thing’s for sure: being covered in poop never seems to ruin his day.

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