Monday, August 11, 2014

Having a baby

This happened. My husband and I had a baby in March. Well, I had the baby. And now we have the baby.

Our little guy is four and a half months old and, to be honest, despite our time with him, I am still in awe that it happened. I am still learning (baby steps, baby steps) to identify myself as a mother.

Mother has so many connotations. She's the one who always has a snack baggie of goldfish or cheerios in her purse. She's the one with wet wipes and travel-packs of Kleenex to spare. She's the one who can balance two dinner plates in one hand, a cell phone between her ear and cheek, a whimpering soggy child, and her checkbook all at once. She's the one with so much love to go around that she made a new lovable person INSIDE of her. And 21st-century mommy is even more awesome and intimidating: she's the one who keeps daddy and son happy and healthy, cookies in the jar, dollars in the bank, and laundry off the floor. All without skipping a beat or smudging her nails or scuffing her heels. Who is this woman, and why do I have the simultaneous urges to friend her on Facebook and kick her in the shins?

I am hard on myself because I fear inadequacy, which is something I've dealt with and fought at nearly every stage of my life. And, obviously, it's a quite silly fear--I've accomplished just about everything I've ever set my mind on doing. It doesn't matter, though. This fear is one that ignores the successes and highlights weaknesses, and it weighs me down but does nothing to improve the quality or quantity of my work. It's not like a deadline that sets my rear in gear to get something done or turned in on time. It's like wearing a backpack of camping gear year round without any relief. It is exhausting and would be numbing if it didn't hurt so badly.

My gut tells me that I'm doing well so far at this mommy stuff, but the voices around me poke and prod at my confidence until it has so many holes that it can't hold anything of substance. I have the have to feed baby formula because he has stopped breastfeeding guilt. The just dropped baby off at daycare and my heart hurt all the way to work guilt. The I have finally caught up on laundry but the sink is full of dishes guilt. The baby's pacifier fell on the floor and I popped it back in his mouth without washing it with soap and boiling water guilt. The please sleep, baby, please, please stay asleep guilt. The you're crying for me to hold you and walk you around but even four months later my stomach is still tender from the cesarean surgery, so can we please play on the floor instead? guilt.  I love him with my whole heart, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt sometimes.

So, today I shed a few tears in honor of all the women out there loving their babies and/or husbands or partners or family members so wholly that there feels like no room for any love for themselves.  There IS room, somewhere, there must be, and we'll be better for them--our loved ones--as soon as we start including ourselves in that group (loved ones) and turn away from the fears and guilt that are packed with lies from dark, bad places.  Today, tears and all, I intend to step (baby steps, baby steps) away from the lies and to nourish my wounds the best way I know how. I pray to my father God for healing of mind and body, and I pray for the washing away of feelings of mommy guilt and inadequacy. I especially pray for a lightness of spirit that will lift me up me as I try to slough off the heavy worries that press in close on this new mommy.

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