Thursday, May 26, 2011


so i think that there's something people don't tell you before you have a baby.

in fact, i think there's too much they DO tell you and not enough they DON'T tell you but i don't think anyone could really tell you everything or, as my wise mama told me, you just don't hear half of what they say anyways so it's possible that people told me but that i just didn't hear them.

the biggest adjustment i'm having to motherhood and parenthood isn't loving the baby--that's totally done--or getting way less sleep--that sucks, but it is manageable--but it's this sense of neverending responsibility competing, sometimes violently, with your previous sense of independent freedom.

for the past week or so, i've been feeling like i want a "break." but when i'd get one, when musicboy would take the baby or when i would be able to go do something, it somehow wouldn't be what i was defining as a break.  so i would keep searching for it, occasionally feeling woebegone because oh how hard it is to have no break.

it wasn't until this early morning, feeling terribly guilty for just not wanting to deal with the daily life of newbornland and again feeling like i wanted that ever-elusive 'break' from the routine, that i realized what was going on.

even when i get a small break, i am never 'free' from the responsibility of being a parent.  i don't necessarily want to be free of that responsibility, but it's a new feeling.  i thought it was the daily routine, the bottles and formula and diapers and spit up and gas, that was the weight that i was feeling. i realized, laying in bed, that it's not.  i can do bottles and formula and diapers in my sleep.  it's the responsibility.  it's the feeling like i need to always be on the watch for what to do next, it's making sure that i am meeting everyone's needs above my own, and especially maggie's because she can't do it herself. it's trying to figure out how to make her have less spit up, less gas, less discomfort during these growing times. it's the constant dance of doing all of the things that i know need to happen in order for her to thrive.  it's weighty.

i don't think i expected that to feel almost physical, though, and to contrast so sharply with the easy freedom that comes with being an adult.  i thought i had weighty stuff in my life--job, marriage, family, faith--but, to a certain degree, i was always free to do what i wanted to do when i wanted to do it.  now there's something bigger than myself, more important than myself, that tugs at me constantly.

i don't resent it.  please don't get me wrong.  right now, after i had said prayer after prayer laying in my bed that Heavenly Father would change my nature to make me less selfish and more willing to serve without worrying about myself, my baby girl is sleeping on my chest.  she wasn't doing so well in her crib in these early morning hours, having spit up lots and having some bubbles.  so i picked her up and rocked her and she fell asleep on my chest.  so now we're downstairs, laying on the couch, watching family ties and getting some more rest.  it is precious to me.  all of this becomes very academic, in some ways, when we have these moments. these are the moments that i cherish.

someone told me that this is the new normal, and that the old normal will never be again.  i think that's what the conflict inside of me is about--the unrealistic expectation that i would feel the way i felt before, even in some small way.  i am still me, but i am a different me.  there's nothing wrong with that.  in fact, that's amazing. 

to a certain extent, i think i have been searching around, somewhat aimlessly, for signs that i was back to "normal" as a way of justifying that we are surviving. in some ways, i think that i was looking for those signs as a way of feeling like life has begun, once again, after this hiatus of delivering a baby.

i was completely missing the mark.

life began when maggie was born.  life began, for us, again.   the old one came in with us to the hospital and we left with a different one.  i'm not sure why it's so hard for me to realize that.  instead of spending time waiting for the old normal to return, and feeling frustrated when it doesn't happen, i should be spending my time building the new normal.

i've been thinking about ways that i can start to do that, but it's a hard adjustment.  it's the adjustment that i'm finding most challenging, but i suppose building a life, both literally (as we take care of baby girl) and figuratively (as we redefine how we work as a family) is pretty strenuous work. 

i'm not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone else, but it's what i've been thinking about.  realizing it is tantamount to a huge sigh.  i feel as if i've somehow been holding my breath, and now i can breathe again. 

i'm a worrier, and that's never going to change. but not worrying about being the way i was before, but just spending time trying to be the best i can in these new circumstances--that's an interesting idea.  it might even feel liberating to a certain degree. 

we're all still figuring it out, and though it feels like baby girl has always been here, she hasn't been here for that long.  i think it will take time to figure out how to make all of these things fit together well, and even then the seams between them might be quite prominent for a while. 

but if we're working on building, rather than searching, i think we'll be happier and more content.

1 comment:

  1. "this sense of neverending responsibility competing, sometimes violently, with your previous sense of independent freedom."

    Lady, I could have written that sentence myself.

    I've been keeping up with you guys all along, not having enough time to comment (toddler!) but wanting to say how great you guys have been doing. (And your birth story. Wowzer. I'm so glad you came through it okay.)

    I felt exactly the same sense of conflict you're experiencing, and here's what I can tell you about how it was for me: as Maggie gets older, things will get easier (and harder in some ways, but these newborn months? definitely the toughest because it's all so new and sometimes scary). As things get easier (for us, that point was when E was 9 months), you'll start feeling more like your old self. But at the same time, your mom self will come more into being, so you end up with a hybrid, really. It takes a good but of time. But your momness and your "selfness" will merge at some point, and you'll feel both like your old self and a wonderful new self.

    It took me at least 18 months to get to that "merge point," but everybody's different. Hurray! :)

    It's okay to feel the conflict. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mom, or a person who doesn't appreciate the little one enough (not that you were worried, but I was, so I figured I'd say it).