Monday, December 27, 2010

What Is Motherhood?

Merry Belated Christmas to all! In general things are good here. Christmas was just us three in Oakland this year. I wish family could be around, but I'm SO glad I didn't have to travel and get into any bad (read: cold) weather! It was also nice to just have a few days of relaxing time at home off of work. It certainly helped me feel less anxious and more relaxed. The days haven't all been perfect, but I think what I'm finally learning is what my new life is going to be like.

My only preconcieved notion of motherhood was that it IS possible to do it all--that the baby doesn't have to change you. I have read so much about the disillusionment of motherhood. About how the baby rips you from the life you once had and suddenly you are a totally different person and you lose your sense of self, etc. But, I continued to believe that this only happens if you let it. I read an article about the loss of self related to motherhood after having Amelia and I thought, "These people are silly. Why did they let it get to them? I will never be like that." And when my previously cool friends turned into overprotective, child-obsessed people I scoffed. But, now that I've had some time to really get used to Amelia in my life--to really see what my life is and what it will be like for the next many years, it's a real eye-opener.

Yes, I've lost my sense of self--sort of. I'm still me, but unlike what I expected, I REALLY want to be around my baby ALL the time. She is cool and funny and really friggin cute. I think I hold on to her so much because I see how rapidly she is changing and I want to hang on to every minute when she is sweet and adorable and small and smiley. I know it won't last forever. I see her changing before my eyes. One day away at work and I come home and notice her face is different and her hair is longer and she's doing something new. It really makes me want to spend every waking second with her. My interests and hobbies have taken a backseat to this. As she gets older, I think it will get easier. She won't change as rapidly and she'll be easier to take places. For now, it's easier just to be home and hang out--as boring as it sounds. And, I hate to be away from her, partly because I work so many of her waking hours and partly because I don't want to miss any more than I have to.

Then there's the nursing. In a previous post I said that it makes me tired. So even when Amelia's asleep, I don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything. I'm just so tired! I love nursing and I LOVE that it allows me to eat anything and still drop pounds, but it definitely makes it hard to go anywhere in the evening. That and, of course, my sleeping issues, which are gradually getting better. I think I'm finally learning that it's okay to have a bad night here and there and that it happens. It's best if I don't let it ruin my day, but it can be hard not to let it get to me. And then, for most parents whose baby doesn't even sleep through the night, the thought must go through their minds, "Why would I waste time going out tonight, when I could be sleeping?!" You have to take advantage of it while you can! And, even if I did want to go out, Amelia would be up at 7:30, pretty much destroying any possibility for me to sleep in. I think that going out will have to wait a few years.

As for bringing her places--that can be tough, too. It's not that hard to bring her places, but it can take some effort. She requires a lot of stuff--diaper bag, pacifier, food, extra diapers, extra clothes, etc. And I can totally manage that. But what is tough is when she is moving and getting into things and I have to keep an eye on her. I really can't just let her roam free--not yet. She's too young to understand she could choke or electrocute herself or pull something heavy on top of her. This makes it really hard to take her places. Add to that the lack of energy and you are starting to get the picture.

All this and I have an EASY baby. I mean, the EASIEST! She is mellow, easy-going, relaxed, and fine in 90% of situations, but it's still hard. Even putting all this on paper, I still can't figure out what, exactly, makes it so dang hard... But I do see now why people think it is attractive to go out without your children or to stay in with them! And I do think that I am finally starting to understand that Amelia is forever. She's not just a fun novelty toy (duh! but that's kind of the image I had in my head of me with a baby) that I'll get to hug forever. She's a real person and I'm only now starting to see how responsible for her I am. And, even more, I'm starting to see how I am a totally normal and (I think) super cool person and I am a mother. And I never really thought that about mine or any other mothers. But now I think I am coming around. I am starting to really see the sacrifice and work that goes into it and I'm really appreciative of all the women who have done this for years. Mothers are friggin' amazing! And, to think they didn't even have as much help as I did! I'm lucky and blessed and I know it, but dang motherhood is definitely turning out to be an adventure unlike anything I ever expected or experienced!

PS: I think having a dog actually WOULD prepare you for having a kid. It's a similar dynamic. You have to put in the effort to train, walk, feed, and water them AND it's long term AND you have to find a dog-sitter for when you want to go out. Big difference on the sleep, nursing, and hormones front though. :-)

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