One of my favorite online friends, Scary Mommy honored me with an invitation to guest post for her this week. She said that she thought it might be fun to have “a few people post their scary mommy moments (whatever that may mean).” And apparently, I completely missed the point…
She was talking about not being perfect – those times when you feel like “bad mom.” And I went in a totally different direction. Ultimately, she’s posting something else of mine that is more along the lines of what she had in mind. But since I went to the trouble of writing this thing, I’m posting it here.
So pretend that you are over at Scary Mommy’s blog and pretend that I completely nailed her guest post theme. And then leave me comments telling me what a tour de force this is so I can feel a little less moronic about the miscommunication.
Descent into Scary Mommyhood
When Jill asked me to guest post this week, she mentioned something about “scary mommy moments.” And my immediate thought was, “where do I start?!“
I suppose that’s a universal theme of motherhood, with its never-ending firsts, challenges and fears. But along with that comes all of the triumphs, the self discovery and the great gift of testing and proving your merit as a parent. It’s a heady experience.
Being a parent is absolutely the most amazing thing that I’ve ever done. Of course it’s just as terrifying as it is thrilling. And much of the time, it also really sucks.
My initiation into the world of scary mommyhood was the complete upheaval, the world turned on it’s head, the holy crap, what the hell have I gotten myself into slap in the face, otherwise known as bringing your first baby home from the hospital.
The mystery of shell shocked new parent expressions that I had previously puzzled over was suddenly revealed. I now understood. They had just willingly signed away life as they once knew it.
And I think that’s when it starts. Truly, it’s right there at the beginning. Babies may fool you for those first few sleepy days in the hospital…but the minute they cross the threshold of their new home, they turn into mini Terminators on a mission to throw their parents’ once peaceful existence into a state of constant chaos. At least for a little while.
When sleep, something so basic to a functional life, becomes a privilege and not a right, you join the ranks of zombies so easily identified as new parents. And it really gets scary when you realize that you have no idea when the madness will end, if ever.
After one particularly taxing day with baby Oliver, I looked at my husband and said quite definitively, “I don’t know how people take care of multiples – I could never do it.“
Epilogue: 18 months later I gave birth to twins.
Another scary mommy milestone would be caring for those twins during my maternity leave. Oliver was a week late and entered this world as a healthy, nine pound bruiser. Sure, he was fussy – but nothing beyond the expected newborn hoopla.
George and Eleanor were born just shy of 37 weeks and were each under six pounds. After my first tank of a baby, I didn’t know what to make of those skinny little things. They kept their wrinkly knees pulled up in a perpetual fetal position (common with c-section babies). And they looked so fragile, that even my 18 months of first baby experience made me handle them with extra care. Their tiny boniness was so foreign to me that when I dressed them in the morning I would often think that it felt like changing kittens.
They had reflux and colic and eczema and…well, let’s just say that I spent more time at the doctor’s office in those three months than I did in the previous 18 months with Oliver.
And taking care of both of them at once! Feeding them in tandem, bathing one while the other screamed, finally getting one to settle down for a nap, only to have the other wake up…When people knowingly advised me to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” I would reply, “oh yeah? Which one?” (The Miss Manners book got thrown out the window during that period of my life…)
But of course, they too eventually learned to sit up and hold their bottles, and entertain themselves and each other. And the scary new mommy phase quietly lifted away – quite the anticlimax to its bone crushing arrival.
I also think we all experience a touch of amnesia when it comes to those early months since the screaming newborn does at some point morph into a charming, cooing infant. Love and smug admiration for our offspring will inevitably win out in the end.
But then there is always something else… Some new scary development to snap us out of our self satisfied torpor. There is no relaxing in scary mommyhood.
My oldest child just turned four, and within that time I’ve experienced the NICU, the ER, hourly wake up calls for nights on end, speech and developmental delays, biting, fighting, tantrums, teething, crying, screaming and screaming and screaming…
But I’ve also experienced peals of laughter, hand holding, I wuv yous, flashes of genius, spirited identity building, earnest honesty, sticky sweet kisses, general center of the universeness and fervent gratitude for every single day that I have with those little monsters.
They have simplified my life and brought my priorities into sharp focus. My dreams for them are infinite, while my dreams for myself drop off somewhere after “showering with the door closed.” But that’s just for now because they are a daily reminder that anything is possible. They have aged me and made me feel young again. And yes – they scare the crap out of me.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. From the very beginning, they made it clear that no matter how scary life with them can be, every day is worth it. And every day is ours.