Let me tell you something ladies- there is a reason this blog is about BIRTH and not PARENTING. I know I can give birth. I think we are pretty much all designed to do this. Parenting? I have no idea what I am doing. And it seems to be such a huge, complex, changing yet monumentally important task. It really matters if we screw it up. Birth matters forever too- but it is so very brief in comparison and some of it is just out of our control. Parenting however, if you foul it up- it kind of feels like it is all on you.
It seems that every time I have an opinion about kids or parenting or how other people are doing stuff wrong, it comes back to bite me.
Just this week I was sick. I had one day that I was feeling awful and spent a lot of time in bed. In my stupor I came to the conclusion that, A) Nobody should ever touch me again and B) I was so freaking tired of nursing.
In my defense I have been either nursing or pregnant for the last eight years solid. I have NEVER felt touched out. When I would hear of other women talk about that feeling- like they just wanted everybody to get away by the end of the day, I thought......well I thought that was a little sad. I wondered how you could ever get tired of milky cuddles and sweet little hands with fat fingers and unconditional love.
I would hear women so happy to "get their bodies back" after a baby weaned and I would wonder why they would be excited about that. How could you be happy to see that relationship end?
But then it happened to me. It took a long time, but it did. One day I found myself wanting "my" body back and feeling done with nursing.
Before you freak out and tell me you hate me, I should mention that my baby is a year old. My breastfeeding goal is always to hit the one year mark. I should also mention that I didn't and won't suddenly wean her.
Still....something needed to change for me- for my SANITY. To me this is one of the hardest balancing acts of motherhood. How do we give selflessly but know when we need to give to ourselves? How do we teach service and at the same time take time for our own needs? How do we know when we are doing something for ourselves that will make us better mothers and better women or if we are just being selfish? This, well, it's just hard to figure out sometimes.
I won't just cut off a one year old who is happily nursing. But I did realize that unless I wanted to dread nursing that I needed to cut back. I started offering more solids and offering them more frequently. I stopped offering the breast so constantly. I started offering her more water in a sippy cup.
An amazing thing happened. My baby- the one who has been following me around whining and crying and acting pretty miserable and attached was suddenly HAPPIER. And me, I was happier too. It is nice to have a more content baby, and it was even nice to have myself a little more to myself.
This kind of thing KEEPS ON HAPPENING. I constantly have humbling moments.
I used to watch this mother in my son's class interact with her toddler. She had a two year old who was always getting loose in the parking lot. I often thought, "She needs to control that child or she is going to get RUN OVER!" Of course my baby at the time grew bigger. By the time she was two I had another baby.
It is pretty impossible to carry my feisty and strong toddler while I hold the baby. I tell you what- I will praise the Lord if that girl survives to adulthood. She is loud and quick and built for battle. She hates holding hands and loves getting away from me. Though seemingly smart as a whip she sure as hell doesn't listen worth a hill of beans. And she has gotten away from me in that same parking lot more times than I can count.
The only thing I know these days about parenting is that I am constantly amazed by how much I don't know. The longer this mom gig goes on, the more I realize how much there is to learn and how little of it I can get from books or philosophies.
I will learn parenting from my children, from prayer, from other good mother's around me. I will learn some of it from my gut, my heart, my instincts, and my head. Being a good mother to one child will be a little different than being a good mother to the next one. And when I think I have figured out that child, they will change, and grow, and they will teach me more. Every time it will surprise me, and every time it will be a painful yet pleasurable journey towards finally figuring it all out.
But I will admit, right now, that I have bad days. Awful days where I wonder why I am performing so very poorly in such an important task. I do and say things that I am ashamed of and that I hope my children will not remember about me. I have crappy mom moments.
Someday I hope I am a wise grandmother who can give perfect advice to the sweet young mothers I hope to raise. I hope I can hold their babies in just the right way and enjoy those moments without forgetting how hard it sometimes was for me, way back when.
But for right now, I hope I can be humble without being hopeless. I hope I can laugh without bitterness and I hope that I can love in the moment. I hope I can preserve my sanity, serve my children, and do it all without totally forgetting that I was once an individual. I hope this journey can be beautiful and joyful even while it is kicking me in the pants. Mostly, I hope my crappy moments are just that, moments, and not defining.
Thank you for joining me on it, even in a small way.
I hope there is joy in your journey as mothers. We are all in this together.