To Mommies Everywhere: You Got This

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I’ve been a mummy for 8 weeks now; weeks of wonder and of exhaustion. And in those 8 weeks I’ve begun to learn all about this mommyhood business. My most important lesson thus far has been this: every single mommy out there is winging it. Especially if they have more than one sweet little bundle. Every parenting moment happens on the fly, and it’s over before you know it. You’re so tired that you don’t even go back and analyze what you would have done differently until much, much too late, and by then you are doing all the things you said you weren’t going to do with your own kids.

I made a proclamation to my mum a few months back that I wouldn’t co-sleep with my newborn. I wasn’t even going to have him sleep in our bedroom with us. He was going to sleep next door in his crib where I wouldn’t roll on him accidentally and I would listen on the monitor in case he needed me. That lasted a week once he arrived home: one sleepless, heartbreaking week in which we discovered that he hated lying flat, he hated being swaddled, and he hated being left alone. (It was a lot of grouchiness for one so small.) Now, he sleeps in his hammock-style bassinet beside my bed, and when I can’t convince him to sleep during growth spurts or bouts of sickness, he lies between MiniSir and I in the bed. I’d be upset when Mum chooses to remind me of the arbitrary statement I made back when I was still naive, except now that I’ve learned just how little every other mother actually knows, I let it roll off my back.

Some of you reading this might argue that you do know quite a bit about being a mommy. That may be true, but there is a caveat you’re forgetting. You know a lot about being a mommy NOW. Think back to when you were still squeaky new and still had so much to learn, and admit you didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do. It’s okay. I’ll wait while you remember doing all those things that are now causing you to facepalm pretty hard.

Some of the other discoveries I have made during these last 8 weeks:

  • The internet can tell you how to do things like get formula stains out of onesies, but it cannot tell you why your baby is crying.
  • Similarly, if you believe the internet, your baby has every disease known to mankind and the only way to cure them is with a totally organic health food product bought from fair trade farmers in Peru.
  • If your baby is present in a room with other women, they will either compare it to their own or steal it from you. There is no third option.
  • Apparently, because I both breastfeed and supplement with formula, I am a hideous monster mother who wants her child to grow up to be a sociopath.
  • Also, I drink caffeine, have the occasional beer, and eat dairy while breastfeeding my son, so he will be an obese alcoholic.
  • No one ever believes you when you say that this is going to be your only child. NO ONE.
  • Take pictures. As many as you can. Because you will be too tired to remember what that weird rash looked like when you see your pediatrician next, but photos will always be there to explain for you.

Lastly, and in all seriousness, this: when you wake up at 2am for a feeding, and you’re exhausted and just looking for more sleep, and that beautiful little face stops crying and smiles at you as soon as you lean over the bassinet, your heart will stop and you will know that all of this BS you wade through every day means nothing because your baby feels safe and happy when you are near.

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One comment

  1. Sorry I didn’t read ecause this before…it sounds so much like my own experience. I hadn’t had time to read all the books beforehand, since I was working — that turned out to be a blessing. Also, I was in a new community where I knew nobody. Terry was working 24/7, often out of town. We lived in a walk-up (a long flight of exterior wooden stairs), with no laundry facilities, and a good distance from anything resembling a grocery store. My Toronto friends were far away, which was a good thing, because they would have disapproved of many things: the fact that we had bought a car (old, second-hand), for one thing. (Thirty years later, it is still impossible to live in Niagara — unless you are single, in good health, and live in downtown St. Catharines — without a vehicle, because there’s no regional transit.) I was able to find a diaper service out of St. Catharines, which was wonderful, until Sam grew too big for their largest size diapers…and then I’m afraid it was on to disposables, due to that lack of laundry facilities within walking distance, and lack of availability of the car to get to the nearest laudromat. My worst memories have more to do with the isolation than anything else – the way I totally lost my identity as a human being. I was just a mum. I think that’s the hardest thing about being a first-time mother later in life. As for Sam…well, the bonding thing was quite simply the most amazing experience of my life, and I’ll never forgot it. The way you still feel like your child is still part of you, even though he/she is “in the world”. There’s nothing like it, is there?

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