One year later and I still feel like I have no clue what I am doing. It is like that thing you lie about on a resume – like yeah, totally proficient in MATLAB and oh also! I am conversational in Spanish, but now it’s more a human life that I am lying about my moderate (on a good day) proficiency in.
I called my mom the other day and the first thing I said when she picked up was “Mom, can you please help me parent?” She laughs, but I was/am dead serious. I had the schedule down, the naps, the sleeping semi-all-the-way-through-the-night and then it just all went to shit. There was one night about a week ago where Zara woke up at 1AM and I tried my normal rock for a few minutes and put her back and this kid just wouldn’t go back to sleep. So I try giving her a little milk, like food coma this baby – didn’t work. Brought her in bed with me because that’s another move I googled once – it didn’t work. And at this point I am panicking because its 2:30AM and I have done everything that I know how to do. Every night when she wakes up I just cross my fingers and hope the list of solutions I found on google works, and it has up until this week for the most part. Now I am back to having just about as much knowledge about taking care of my kid as when I was also 1 year old.
This blog might be a little random because I really don’t have a general theme, but if you have questions ever about motherhood – the real stuff like you know… what happens to your body the day after you have a kid (that’s some real stuff) to what should I buy for my new baby to what if I actually really don’t like or enjoy the baby phase – I probably have experienced it and am happy to write about it in the most light hearted way possible.
Now that I am writing, this post might be a little soft, but it is for a woman who deserves the softest of posts of all time. So, some context – motherhood can get pretty lonely. I have felt probably the loneliest I have felt in my life in the first year of Zara’s life even after living in Finland by myself for a year. I know, I am not married, but this loneliness hits married moms, too – I will speak from my experience, though. Raising Zara, especially this semester when I am like REALLY by myself has been tougher than I expected.
There are times it feels like I am so alone in my anxiety, my doubts, my fears– that even when I am without Zara, my thoughts can still race back and forth thinking about what am I going to make for dinner, if I have enough time to give her a bath, she has had that weird cough – do I think she needs more ibuprofen or is there a home remedy cough syrup I can make, you know the typical mom stuff. I doubt myself and wonder if I am doing the right things – if I let her sleep in my bed are we going to be sleeping together until she goes to college? If I feed her grilled cheese again because I am too tired to cook is she going to have health problems? (I have googled both) There are times in the middle of the night where I just can’t get her back to sleep and I am wondering if I can actually make it to the morning let alone make it through the next day. Parenting some days feels like a total crapshoot.
There are also really amazing times where Zara will do something like say “ba-bai” or blow a kiss to a stranger or say tweet tweet (but really its more like TUT TUT! – she hasn’t figured out the high pitched voice yet) or she looks at me and talks like she really is saying something important and it just sounds like “bitches, bitches!” and I want to share it with someone so desperately because I am so excited about it, someone who loves Zara as much as I do, which is more than life. In the traditional setting, this is the person who helped you create the kid or who is raising the kid with you. In my situation, my wife is my mom. Our relationship is the real life example of “you are never done parenting” (sorry, mom, I was so close to adult independence!).
If you were to find out you were very unexpectedly pregnant – who would you call first? I called my mom. I didn’t even tell her to sit, I just spat it out because I knew that growing up, if we would mess up or did something we shouldn’t have 1) she was going to find out – she always did and 2) it wouldn’t change how much she loved us one bit. Some people get to raise their kid with their significant other and some days I wish I was too, but damn am I lucky that I get to raise Zara with someone who has 1) done this before (lol – veteran moms are like magical genies – they know it all, they don’t panic, they know if a kid falls off a bed, she’s probably fine) and 2) who loves and cares for my daughter’s well-being just as much as she cares about mine.
Mom – after one year of raising a kid, all three of us owe you tenfold. I hope I get to experience a very similar relationship that you and I have with my own daughter. I want to say – you might think you did a lot wrong, but you did so much more right. They (idk who they are – it just sounds official) say that you want to take what your parents did right and continue doing that and take what they didn’t do well to learn and improve as you parent your own kids. The list of things I want to do differently than you is small. It’s so small.
Thank you for being there for me and there with me through my pregnancy which was filled of fear, uncertainty, and a few hormonal calls asking if it was really ok if I ate Chick-fil-a fries again for lunch. Thank you for even driving through Chick-fil-a on the way to the hospital when I was in labor. I know I didn’t get to eat the fries because the nurses were a little (a lot) mean, but know I wanted to. Thanks for staying the first few days after the birth because I didn’t even know you are supposed to burp a baby after you feed them, I didn’t know about all that sitz bath stuff, and the diapers (not for Zara!) – I would have been lost without you. The heart you have for other people who are not yourself combined with the strength to overcome any challenge is something I hope I get to pass onto Zara.
One deep fear I had, which fueled my lack of desire to have kids ever, and also that came up when I found out I was actually pregnant and going to actually have a kid, was a fear that I would have to give up what I had worked for, my goals for my life, what I wanted to accomplish. My mom has gone out of her way to make sure that I get to graduate – it might not be with the same GPA I had before I had Zara or with the involvement in all the clubs and the networking events that I wish I could be involved in, but I get to finish grad school. She has driven weekends here, taken Zara to stay with her while I work – she is a true ride or die.
Do I have a clue what I am doing still? Absolutely not. I have realized how much my own mom did for me, not just in how she fed me and rocked me, but how she worried about me, protected me, gave me confidence, encouraged me to be exactly who I was supposed to be without having a clue as to what she was doing – I hope you all know a Karen Erwin in your life.