Thursday, May 26, 2011

So You Think You Want to Become a Mother

Remember what I said about parenthood? That it's like riding a roller coaster backwards, in the dark, at 200 miles per hour, without a seatbelt while you're drunk? Motherhood is all that plus the addition of randomly being beaten in the head with a great big book. Because that actually happened to me- the eldest of my Baby C's was frusterated with my dozing off during a reading from 'The Encyclopedia of Parenting' and proceeded to pick up the enormous book and thwack me in the head. Not once, but twice. I honestly thought I had a concussion and if I hadn't been daunted by the prospect of heading to the emergency room and actually explaining what had happened, I totally would have seen a doctor. But I digress- the point here is that mothorhood, no matter how prepared you think you are, is not for the weak.
Before I had children, I had a crystal clear vision of motherhood. I didn't need anyone's advice because I just knew how it was going to be. I envisioned a sleep deprived but happy and serene me trotting off to Mommy and Me Yoga with an adorable cooing baby. I envisioned loosey goosey schedules, with my bundle of joy snoozing at the mall or in the car on the way home from the mall. I envisioned lunches with my friends, nice dinners with Frank at our favorite restaurants, all with happy baby nuzzled on my shoulder.
Cut to a scene, immediately after the birth of the first Baby C, who screamed so loudly and for such a long time that the nurses had to separate him from the other babies. See me staring at him, the night we brought him home from the hospital, wondering how on earth I was going to keep him alive for the next 18 years. See me crying with desperation because for months, he slept for 30 minutes at a time, only to wake up screaming at full volume. See me frusterated beyond all understanding, because I couldn't provide my unusually high strung child with something as basic as comfort. I was failing at this. See me slowly begin to unravel...
During one tearful phone conversation with my sister, I distinctly remember telling her that 'it wasn't supposed to be like this!' I unloaded on her about how angry I was that I just couldn't get the hang of motherhood. The ease that everyone else had with their children was so foreign to me. Sometimes, I actually wanted to chuck the screaming little red monster out the window. What was I doing wrong?!?!
My sister gently informed me that God doesn't give us the children we want- he gives us the children we need. I had an infinite amount of patience and I was known for being rather unflappable with other people's children. It was past time to exercise that patience with my own child and of course, with myself. I realized that I had been approaching motherhood with the same anxiety as if I was taking a pass or fail test on life. Babies cry- that's their job. As a mother, it's your job to RELAX, trust yourself and do the very best you can to take care of your child. That doesn't mean you'll always be able to stop the screaming. In fact, I guarantee that you won't. But it does mean that you'll be able to deal with whatever parenting throws your way, no matter how unprepared you feel.
Turns out, my oldest son responds to my moods more powerfully than I do. If I'm anxious, he's anxious times ten. If I'm upset, he's upset times ten. If I wake up in a bad mood, he's aware of it before I utter a single grumpy word. When I finally relaxed, so did he. Funny how that works.