Or: The non-parenting blog parenting post
I am not ever going to be a mommy blogger. If I were to be, my mommy blog would not be very good.
I got home at 7 after working all day, helped my husband make dinner while yelling at my kids not to throw various breakables down the stairs and for heaven’s sake, NO RUNNING in the house and can you PLEASE not kill each other while we’re cooking yes I KNOW you’re hungry I’m famished myself so the sooner you find some way to amuse yourself for I swear 10 minutes is all I need the sooner we can ALL get something to eat and for the love of God WHY IS YOUR BROTHER CRYING?!
There. That is an example of what I am NOT contributing to the blogosphere.
But lately I’ve noticed that whenever I let slip any of several things that you’re not supposed to say about your children, they have a way of making people feel better. People that want to be parents either soon or someday and are worried that they are not the parenting type. Because I seem to be the poster child for “If I can be a parent, anyone can!”
And that’s great!
I’m not going to pretend I’m the perfect parent or that I have the parenting thing completely figured out. But all three of them are alive and fairly independent for their level of development (11, 8, and 15 months, for reference), so I think I’m qualified to share a few things. My path to parenthood was a bit untraditional so it puts me in a good position to challenge some of the reigning assumptions out there.
So here are several things you’re not supposed to say about your kids –
1) I don’t speak Baby.
I am terrible at intuiting what my babies need. When they cry, I just stick a boob in their mouth. It solves everything. Hungry? Boob! Tired? Boob! (bonus: they’ll nurse themselves to sleep) Bored? Boob! Gassy? Boob! Upset because they just got their vaccinations? Boob! Poopy? Boob! Wait, I take that back – first change them, and then – Boob!
2) I don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings for my children when I am pregnant with them.
I understand intellectually that they are there and that they are alive and that they are my children from the moment of conception, but I really don’t connect emotionally with them. I spend my pregnancies constantly checking the calendar and counting down the days to when I can expect to be done being pregnant so I can resume my alcohol consumption habits.
3) I also don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings for my children right after they’re born.
When the nurses hand me the baby, I smile because I’m supposed to, but inside I’m wondering how soon I can hand the baby off to someone else and not look at it again for a while.
What’s that look for? I just pushed out a baby! It’s only the most strenuous thing I’ve ever done, so forgive me if I’m a bit wiped and all I want to do is sleep. I’ll deal with the whole “I’m a mom now” thing later.
4) I wasn’t “ready” to be a mom.
Not in any sense of the word. I was 20 years old, not married, no college, and enjoying living alone when that pregnancy test came up positive. I didn’t even like kids. No way in hell did I want to be a mom. But here’s the thing – humans have a gestational period of about 9 months. Forty weeks if you count the ~2 weeks before conception even occurs. So by the time you start inexplicably puking and take the pregnancy test, you’ll probably have about 7 or 8 months notice before the baby is born. That’s more than enough time to prepare yourself. Not that you’ll FEEL ready at all, but it’s enough time to have the necessary logistics in place.
5) The first month (or so) of taking care of a new baby is absolute hell.
There’s just no other way to put it. Have you heard that saying, “Love is a choice”? Well, loving my newborn babies was DEFINITELY a choice. A choice that I continually, purposely, determinedly made every minute of that first month while reminding myself that there was literally no other (ethically acceptable) option.
I WILL get out of bed. I WILL wipe the poop off the baby, and the changing table, and the floor, etc. I WILL put baby to breast. I WILL pick up and hold the baby when it cries.
The warm fuzzy feelings slowly developed beginning at around the six weeks or two month mark. Up until that point, everyone’s telling me “Congratulations! You must be so happy!” And I say “Thank you – yes we’re thrilled!” because it’s not socially acceptable to say, “Thank you – my life is a nightmare!”
6) Going along with the last point, learning how to breastfeed can be a pain.
My first time, I had a screaming baby virtually around the clock for about a week until she figured out how to nurse. I visited the lactation consultant three times. My second time, she was really gung-ho about nursing, and it took her a while to get the memo that she didn’t have to work THAT hard. My third time just hurt. A lot.
In my experience it takes about a week, but I have heard that for some people it takes about two weeks. Most people, when they get to the two-week mark, just say fuck it, switch to formula, and are instantly happier. And good for them.
I will say this, though – if you can get the nursing thing down, you have about 4 months where you can take the baby anywhere. And I do mean anywhere. Movie? Yup. Fancy restaurant? Absolutely. Bar? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Mainly because people will look at you funny. The reason you can get away with this is because up until about four months or so, babies don’t really care if they don’t get to move around or play for a few hours. And if you’re nursing, you can just pop them on a boob if they start crying. Works like magic. Once you get to about 4-1/2 or 5 months, the baby will want to move around more, so definitely take advantage of the boob-solves-everything phase, especially if it’s your first baby.
So that’s me – what are your “things you’re not supposed to say” about your children?