Baby Books, Laundry, and Other Things
This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.
This week, I find myself in the midst of what I believe is a pretty common mom-rut. Whether working outside the home, in the home, or not at all, moms are unified in one absolutely inescapable feeling — guilt. Some days (weeks) it feels like no matter how many work or personal projects I complete, loads of laundry I sort, wash, and fold, vats of organic baby food I make from scratch, moments of reflection I try to carve out, diapers I change, and so on, and so on, there just isn’t enough of me.
Willow is maybe teething or maybe growing or maybe we both got a little gluten from Sunday’s trip to Chipotle. Maybe she’s bored so we went to Target and came home with a Durango-full of exciting new toys. Maybe she’s just learning to walk and it’s freaking out her muscles and her brain. In any case, she’s been a load this week. My sweet girl has been difficult. Wanting to be held but crying when held. No fever or clear symptoms that can be handled. Just… grouchy.
And you guessed it! That means I have, too.
A few long and careful conversations with a couple of close mom-friends has landed me squarely where I need to be: in the place of understanding that it absolutely does not matter how much more I can do, it will never be “enough.” And yet, it alreadyis enough. Sound confusing? Not if you’re a mom.
When Willow is in her zone where she just needs to cry and can’t get past whatever it is that’s upsetting her, I am tempted to feel like I’m not mom enough or don’t deserve her because I can’t figure it out and fix it. Her newborn needs were a little less complicated, if more persistent.
I remember a few months ago my mom and I were having some sort of disagreement and she explained to me that she doesn’t always know how to be a mom to a thirty-year-old who’s married and has X problem and needs Y solution and has a kid of her own. She’s still learning. It’s an interesting perspective. As a mom, I’ll always be learning. My catchup game is strong but not infallible. It took me three days to get into Willow’s 8-month zone of understanding what it is I can do to fix right now’s problems. In three weeks, I’m sure she’ll come up with something new I need to learn about.
And what about me?
After my phone broke on Tuesday and we drove 45 minutes to the nearest suburban Apple store only to be turned away (yep, still broken), I totally shattered. I don’t know if the tears were more about the phone (my only connection to the outside world when I’m dealing with a tantrumming baby alone all day) or the fact that I just could not stop thinking about what a failure I am to Willow.
The night-sleep has been touch-and-go. The anxiety of the days has kept me up late, on Pinterest or watching Hulu and trying to just unwind. But Wills wakes up at 5 now, not 6 (I remember when it used to be 7 or 8! Gah!), so I’ve been sleepy. And this whole nap-refusal game has been tough.
And THEN! I started baby-booking. No, really, it was a good thing…
When we got our first successful nap of the week in yesterday morning, I caught up on all the work that had been looming over my head like a black cloud. I turned photos in for an article exactly three minutes late, the first time in my career as a journalist that I have ever “missed” a deadline. I drowned my sorrows about that in a Diet Coke before returning to work. And I moved forward with the day.
In the afternoon, I got a second nap out of Willow and actually had time to paste exactly 8 photographs into her baby book, do a load of laundry and (get this!) watch 20 minutes of TV. It was glorious and I felt guilty even doing that, but I know I needed the break. Today I’m interviewing a sitter in hopes that I can spend a few afternoons working in solitude while she is played with and loved by another capable human, and after which I can come back to her feeling refreshed and ready.
Willow is my biggest blessing and her place in my life makes perfect sense. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t hard days when I wish I knew more, could do more. One of my friends told me I was crazy to even look at the baby book this week, but I have a new approach. One day at a time, one moment at a time. That’s it! That’s all I got. So if the baby book takes me 18 years to complete and I can place it in her hands on the day she graduates from high school, cool. If I get some more afternoon naps out of her in the next few months, maybe it’ll be ready by the first birthday. Who knows?
What I do know is, she is very deeply loved. And that sometimes, something has got to give. We had to miss a mommy-and-me class on Tuesday and will likely skip this afternoon’s meet-up in favor of quiet alone-play. And I’m okay with that. Because loading up our schedules with exciting, stimulating, social things to fill the spaces when she is not sleeping and I am not working is great. But getting another babyhood is back is not an option, so all I have, really, are the moments.
Now, back to that laundry…