Looking Back, I Wish I Had Appreciated My Babies

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.
Look- my very first selfie!  Now that I finally did one, they will go out of style.  Notice the messy desk in the background, my red couch (I love my red couch.  A lot.) and my total inability to understand even the most basic things about lighting.  I now feel like a total narcissist.  Ta-da!  (PS, why am I glowing red?!  Is something wrong with me!?)


Accalia said…
Wonderful post!
Sarah said…
This is the best post I've read in a great while. I'm currently living in the baby years- my first (and so far only) babe is 13 months. So much of what you wrote resonates with me and makes me feel less alone. Thank you!!!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for this. I'll try to keep it in mind as I prepare for my first baby.
Megan said…
Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I could have written it myself. My first little one was colicky, she never slept, and we never got breastfeeding right, even after trying for 5 months, so I struggled along pumping my life away still not making enoughtil she was 1. I never enjoyed her and actually despised her first year. I now have another little one who is 5 months old and am struggling to enjoy him. He thankfully isn't colicky but we still haven't got breastfeeding right due to a posterior tongue tie (we have had clipped twice). I am now pumping and supplementing with what I can't make. I have promised myself to only pump 6 times a day and leave it at that so I can relax and enjoy him more. I know they are only little once and I want to take it all in and like you said not "watch the clock"
Living Lavallee said…
I do really enjoy my babies, but once they are preschool age/monsters, I live for them to be less destructive and go to school... I hear you. Don't be too hard on yourself!