Some thoughts on motherhood have been going through my head and heart lately. I haven't been too deep or emotional on this blog yet because this blog has mostly been a place for photos and stats updates, like Charlee's current weight, height and her newest skills. I'm slowly learning that motherhood is so much more than keeping the baby book updated with stats - and thank goodness for that!
Charlee has been fighting naps lately. When I say "fighting" I mean full on refusal to go to sleep...sometimes for 30 minutes or longer. Some of you might think that's nothing, but for me it's a new thing and it sucks. While Charlee can put herself to sleep, the nap fighting is exhausting for both of us. Eventually she falls asleep and I go make another coffee. The nap fighting makes these thoughts on motherhood so much more vivid and present, so today, with the third coffee steaming beside me, I am sitting down to write it out.
I really do not enjoy "mommy groups". I am surprised to learn this about myself because I am a very social person and enjoy meeting new people and learning new things. I am being completely honest when I say these are my exact thoughts on "mommy groups": I already have amazing friends...lots of those friends have kids...I don't need new friends. Harsh right?! I don't exactly know why this is my viewpoint toward such groups, but it is. I suspect part of my issue is the comparing and contrasting that tends to go on in such groups: "My baby sleeps", "My baby doesn't sleep", "My baby is already crawling", "My baby can't sit up yet", blablabla. I don't really know what my problem is because I talk about these things with my friends who have children all the time. I'm weird.
Perhaps part of my issue is the fact that motherhood has really brought my attention to my own imperfections. Oh gosh, I can't even type that without tearing up. Fewf.
I am not perfect.
I have deep, deep roots concerning perfectionism. I was born this way. I have high expectations for myself and for the majority of my life I have been able to control how perfect I am at things (gymnastics, school, university, teaching...all these things have been within my control). I am learning now that there is nothing that has made me realize my imperfections more clearly than motherhood.
I could not carry Charlee to full term. I was not healthy. Charlee was healthy (thank God), but the pregnancy was not. Most days I am able to see past the unhealthy pregnancy, looking into the face of my joyful child, but there are moments that catch me off guard and those moments are brutal. I start to think, "If only..." and before you know it I'm having one of those "red light epiphanies"...you know, the major life discoveries you have while waiting at a red light. You must know what I am talking about...I have these seemingly all the time. It is what it is - I tell myself this constantly when I'm having those "If only..." moments. I cannot change what happened. I could not control what happened. Yet, sometimes I still feel deep sadness that my pregnancy with Charlee was a cocktail of all things gone wrong.
I could never have exclusively breastfed Charlee and I did not breastfeed her longer than 5 months. I know I expressed my thoughts on this topic in my last post - again, I am mostly okay with it, but there are moments that catch me off guard and make me feel guilty as hell. While ending breastfeeding made me feel like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, a small, tiny part of me wishes that my relationship with breastfeeding was healthier than it ended up being.
I let Charlee "cry it out", especially during the nap fighting we've been experiencing lately. Sometimes she cries for longer than the 45 minute cycle on her Sleep Sheep. Of course, I go in to her room and stroke her head, give her back her soother, etc., but I stick strong and I don't pick her up, I just let her cry.
Basically, these three categories: giving birth, breastfeeding and sleeping, are all areas of child rearing that carry a lot of stigma in the mommy group realm. Some people want the epidural right away while others desire a natural birth plan. Some people are almost fanatical about breastfeeding while others suffer, long and hard, with that method of feeding. Some people swear by "crying it out", while others curse those who practice it. For those of us who were hard on ourselves before becoming a mama, well...I feel like motherhood has the extreme potential to be a breeding ground for personal, self-sabotaging disaster! Sometimes I feel as if I've failed in all three of these categories because of how we do things around here. Most times I could really care less about what people in the mommy groups say (except I do like it when they share tips on baby sunscreen...)
Today I broke my own rule and picked Charlee up out of her crib because she hit the 60 minute mark for nap fighting (a personal record - I'm so proud of you, baby! Ha.) I held her close, changed her, fed her and cried because it was just so overwhelming. I felt all those moments of "mama failure" come crashing down, while I texted Joel and told him I "gave up". And then, just like when she was born, Charlee reached out her little hand and grabbed my finger. She looked up at me and blinked while my giant tears just keep coming, and then she fell asleep, holding my hand while drinking her bottle.
I have a feeling that this little child is going to be my greatest life's work and my best, most influential teacher. I love you, little button.