March 21, 2007

Day 341: "Baby beluga in the deep blue... DAT!"

I put away the baby milestone book several months ago. The one that says: "Your baby is 13 weeks old. She loves independent films and is just starting to do simple algebra. You love every second you spend with her." The one that made me break out in hives every time I realized Mads and I were missing our milestones. Maybe it's the nostalgia brought on by next week's big birthday, maybe it's the fact that I finally got around to dusting the bookshelf, but I brought the book out of hibernation tonight.

Things were going okay: Crawling - check! Eating - check! Temper tantrums - check! I was feeling good about things. Then we got to this: "She may fill in a word you leave out when singing her favourite song." Um... say what? I suppose she might do that if she knew how to say any words. I knew we were a bit behind on the whole language thing, but I didn't realize she was supposed to be reciting lyrics. So of course after reading this I sat down with Maddie and broke into my painfully bad rendition of Baby Beluga, optimistically waiting for her to chime in. But no. All I got, as always, was an enthusiastic "Dat!", which seems to be her word for: Dad, Mom, food, dog, toy, poo, bed, song, tv & play. So basically everything in her little world. And so the book is in now packed away in a grocery bag, soon to make its way to the consignment store where it will no doubt be picked up by some poor, unsuspecting pregnant woman and will then become the bain of her existence and the root of all her self-doubt.

I really enjoyed reading everyone's emails and comments, you all are so sweet. I wish I had some great advice for you new moms. I hear that some moms love it from day one. I, of course, didn't. And if you don't either, all I can say is I feel your pain. I think part of what makes those first months so hard is that you go into them totally unprepared. It is overwhelming and as a FTM (first time mom) the end is nowhere in sight. It's not even that I think it should be easy; after all, the most important things are often difficult. But, really, couldn't someone at least warn us? Now, people will tell you that motherhood is hard, but they're talking about temper tantrums and school suspensions and the "sex talk." No one really tells you about life with a newborn. I used to wonder if it was just a big cruel joke that we all play on innocent new moms, but now I see that over time the memory dulls and fades to the point where it's not worth mentioning. I haven't quite reached that point, of course, but I think I'm on my way. With each day that passes - as your baby smiles, laughs, reaches out for you, learns something new - you become a little bit more confident and she becomes a little bit more independent and eventually the two of you meet in the middle. At least that's what happened for Mads and me.

Maybe a good metaphor would be to say that motherhood is a long hike up a big mountain. The first bit really sucks, it's uphill all the way, there are rocks falling on your head, and you are likely to lose your footing. But you keep going, because you can't not. And then you get to a clearing and it's beautiful, and your legs get stronger and your feet more sure and you carry on. And so it goes forever if you're lucky, incredible views, devastating falls, and of course a journey you could never forget.


March 19, 2007

Day 338: Sniffles & Snuggles

So it is officially my St. Patrick's Day resolution to post more frequently - at least twice a week. My New Years' Resolutions are already shot, so I figured I'd try again.

It's 8:00pm. The baby is sleeping. The husband is out. I am on the couch with a big glass of wine, some take-out sushi, my laptop and the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars. (Is it just me or has Steve Sanders gotten better looking? Did I just date myself terribly? I might as well admit I still watch the reruns of 90210 on the weekends.) Anyways, back to the present. I have to say that one thing I miss about my pre-baby life (anyone out there keeping a list?) is time alone in my own home. I love hanging out with Fernando and Maddie, but this is such a luxury.

I don't know how long this bliss will last tonight, because poor Maddie is sick and I am half-expecting her to cough herself awake. I don't expect much sympathy - this is our first illness, so we've been pretty lucky. She is such a trooper, though - despite her stuffed up little nose, she's not complaining much at all. In fact, before she went to sleep tonight we had a bit of a lovefest, she and I. I have always wished she was more of a cuddler; sometimes I try to force her into it, but she keeps hitting me in the face until I eventually give up. But tonight we had a breakthrough - she was burying her face in my neck, laughing, pressing her little mouth against mine. Maybe it's that she's sick and her defences are down. Maybe it's that I was also throwing her up in the air in between cuddles. Maybe it's the result of regular doses of Tylenol and Dimetap. I don't care, I'll take it.

I went through such hell those first several months, worrying that I would never be any good at this motherhood stuff. Turns out I'm just really not a newborn person. I don't get the whole squished up, gassy, screaming thing. But now... she is just becoming such a little person, I love it. She still makes me crazy, but she also makes me laugh. She amazes me with how much she's learning, she melts my heart with how much she loves us. I'm smack in the middle of a mushy mommy moment; I definitely intend to enjoy it while it lasts!

PS - I started writing this blog for myself. It was therapeutic, a public diary, a scream out into the great abyss. But lately it has dawned on me that there are some people out there actually reading it. You are reading it! As someone who back in elementary school harboured dreams of being a big fancy writer, I admit that makes me happy. But as someone who has struggled with motherhood and now knows I'm not the only one, it makes me even happier. So if you're out there, leave a comment, drop me an email, let me know.


March 09, 2007

Day 328: Back to work

Well, it is official. The countdown is complete, the fat lady has sung, it’s all over but the crying, and whatever other cliché is applicable. I am back at work. And having been back for almost a full week, it is already feeling as though I never left.

Actually, the dreaded return to work has been better than anticipated. Those first couple of days were hard; there was a few tears and a lot of self pity (“It’s not fair! Why me?”). But I have to admit that overall it hasn’t been all that bad. Adult conversation is a definite perk, as are trips to the gym at lunch. And it’s a nice feeling to leave work at the end of the day and rush home to see my baby.

Even though I was not looking forward to leaving Maddie, I thought that I would get some satisfaction out of having a purpose outside of motherhood, putting in a hard day’s work and making a “real” contribution again. But being back to work has me thinking that there really is no contribution greater than raising a child. And it’s not even that my job is irrelevant. I like to think that I am a small cog in an important wheel. An admittedly small cog, and perhaps not an entirely indispensable one – if I were to say, fall out of the wheel, I’ve no doubt it would keep turning. But I’m pretty sure someone would notice. I’m pretty sure someone would say, “Hey, what happened to Carolyn? She sure kept things running smoothly around here.” Or at the very least, “Where’s that girl that used to bring the donuts?”

I guess my point is that whereas my job is a small link to something greater and of importance, Maddie is something great and important. Maybe she’ll grow up and discover a cure for cancer; maybe she’ll be an artist or a secretary or a tree planter. Whatever she is, my goal as a parent is that she grows up to be kind and accepting, that she makes people happy and is happy herself. Any other job I have just seems to pale in comparison to that.