Watched the most incredible birth video tonight. Beautiful, moving birth in which there is a scare at the end when baby doesn't breathe right away. Midwives get to work. You can hear the mom and dad praying over the baby and then the miracle happens- breath.
As I watched I thought of my own four babies. I was blessed with healthy children, good births, pleasant memories.
And after all that, I am ashamed to admit that I never really appreciated all of it.
The tiny hands, the funny way they breathe in, the flimsy nails, the wrinkles in the fresh skin. The total lack of inhibition that every baby has- just yawning and farting and smiling at will without a thought about being appropriate or sucking in their tummy or offending anybody. Gah- what incredible creatures babies are! Obviously human, but without all the baggage and ugliness.
I am ashamed to admit (and you probably already noticed if you ever read this blog) that I however was never much of a fan of babies.
I felt overwhelmingly overwhelmed with each of them. I did my best and trudged through it, but being a mom of a baby was always hard for me. The lack of sleep, yes- that is what everyone complains about- that was difficult. But it was more than that for me. Feeling helpless is something I find crushing. And raising a baby feels so helpless sometimes. I didn't know what they were thinking, at least not with my first. I wasn't a "natural" mother who just intuitively know how to hold, nurse, rock, and comfort my baby. I just made stuff up.
I don't know what it all was exactly, but I don't think I am a very good mom of babies and I know I didn't inhale every moment with gusto and gratitude. I felt useless a lot of the time and kind of...like I was waiting for this moment to pass so they could be more independent so I could get more "stuff done".
What a tragic way to spend their babyhood! Feeling guilty about dirty floors and all the things I never accomplished (world travel, advanced degrees, pure awesomeness) before I had kids. Instead of noticing the miracle I was living, I was watching the clock.
Still sadder, I think I am still doing the same thing, with every phase, every moment, every year that passes.
It is hard to raise kids. To teach them to read, to watch them struggle, to never be finished with chores, to be pulled in a million directions and give them what they need (without giving so much they end up bratty) and giving yourself what you need (without giving so much that your kids end up damaged by your selfishness). At least, all this is hard for me. I hope it is easier for you.
Here I am, my last baby almost three, looking back on those little souls that I could hold in one hand and wishing I had appreciated it more and savored it and just smelled their heads and drank it in and sighed and realized how truly wonderful it is. And I am still doing the same thing. Looking at the clock, counting the minutes till the finally fall asleep, telling them I need a minute to get my crap together.
I don't know when I will figure it out. I haven't yet. I have a table that needs to be wiped and I lack the emotional strength to get up and do it. I have a dog that wants to come inside that I just wish would be smaller and smell better and stop demanding so much from me. I still don't appreciate things and they are just ticking by, one day at a time, while I try to escape from a reality that one day I will look back on and wish I had appreciated.
What a depressing post this is. How sad that I am admitting what an awful, ungrateful person I am on the big fat internet for all the world to see.
Maybe I will do better. Maybe my patience will last a little longer and I will raise them a little better and become a person that I can look back on and say, "She was all right. She did her best. She had fun. She was good to be around."
Let's hope I figure it out before the time runs out and all I have are regrets for the feelings I should have cherished and the moments I should have savored.