If beating myself up actually burned calories, I would be one skinny girl. So much has been swirling around within me, making for an exasperating week (or two)? I didn’t want to write about it at all, especially on a blog accessible to anyone, but I decided to do it, even to practice being able to say, “F*ck it,” and not care so damn much about others.
On July 1st, at seven months and one week old, Micah officially began to crawl after some weebly wobbly practice rounds that he had become quite militant about. Practicing his form and technique until he was ready for blast off. Quite a festive fellow, to ring in Independence Day with a crawl away from his lifeline (mama and her boobies). I think right around then is also when Mama started to feel the effects of raising a baby on her own. Not truly on her own like a single mama but without her family and longtime friends to stand in for her at times.
This is where the beating myself up comes in. I felt guilty to say it’s starting to get harder because I kept saying to myself and to others, “How can I complain when some folks are struggling to even get pregnant? I have a great, supportive husband. I don’t have twins, I only have one very calm baby to take care of, I know I have it good.” But it was still starting to get harder right around his First Crawl/Independence Day. Like I said, I was starting to feel the effects of not having relatives (or relative-like friends) to watch him regularly while I exhaled, picked my toes, read a novel, swam, remembered who my husband was before he became fellow taskmaster around our home. And just be ME, whoever the hell she was or is. Sure I get SOME pockets of time to myself but I crave more. Where I don’t have to explain to my hubby from the bathroom, “I’ll be out to feed him. What’s that noise? Are you mashing the peas or the carrots? Don’t think I went MIA. I’m just taking longer than I thought!”
One caveat. I currently cannot take more than four hours off during his wake hours (thankfully the boy is a naturally good sleeper). Micah started to reject the bottle of pumped milk when he wised up around four(?) months old, saying, “Why take this lifeless bottle when I can get back on those warm flesh pillows of mamas that I’ve been known to enjoy since the minute I was born?” So I just said, “Well, I’ve chosen to stay home so why not let him reject the bottle. I’m here so I don’t mind.” I still don’t mind for the most part and actually love breastfeeding because it is truly bonding, as he stares right into my eyes, sometimes spilling milk out of the corners of his mouth as he flashes me a smile mid-feed. During a full breastfeeding session, I don’t think I’ve ever been this content and this full of love. The only part I do mind is that it means that for the time being, I can’t take a whole day off, sending Micah on a Daddy and Me Day, or going on a Mommy and Daddy day or weekend. I just gotta take my chunks of time here and there.
Weekends have become family time. Birthday parties, groceries, park, buy buy baby. Still need ME time. And I hadn’t heeded this advice too much before because I was and am SO in love with my boy that even as I craved me time, each time I saw him, I would cave and want to hold him again. (Feeling my guilt creep in even now at the thought of sharing this because I DO have “plenty” of time, like talking to my friends on the phone while I walk around the neighborhood at night after Micah sleeps but I’m always feeling like I’m on a short leash that comes with being a mama. Or maybe I’m talking about how K and I rarely have made it a point to go out on our own).
Now the time to recharge and rebuild is overdue as K and I have been disconnected, I’m getting crankier, and I find myself envying mamas fortunate enough to say, “Oh, my mama is coming over to watch him while I….” and “The in-laws watched him while we…” Now is the time to ask the CT grandma to please visit so that K and I can have time to ourselves. Now is the time to ask some folks to come over for a few hours at night after Micah goes to bed EVEN IF I HATE to ask (hate inconveniencing and feeling like I owe favors). Now is the time to go out and NOT talk about how many ounces of solids on any given day and talk instead about stuff that used to make me tick.
I SO relate to your post/feelings/thoughts. I, too, feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home & raise our baby girl, yet there are days when I feel like this is just the toughest job ever! Since L is sleep-trained, I do have time to myself in the evenings, but I always feel like I need more. I would love to have someone I trusted watch her for a few hours so I could grocery shop at my leisure. I once spent 3 hours at Target in the evening when E was home & he thought I went MIA. I share in your thoughts as L has rejected the bottle completely since she was 3 months old & I am only able to be away from her for about 2 hours. But, when you see them smile or when you’re the only one who can calm them when they’re tired, you feel like it’s all worth it.
Yeah, me too (as you already know). I almost wrote about that too. I felt guilty once again because Micah is a naturally good sleeper with a bit of sleep “training” at four months (remember you talking me thru it so that I didn’t have to buy the book!). So YES, I do have the evening hours and am grateful for that time but somehow those hours disappear too fast, with me all weird-postured from the day, carrying around Mr. Warm and Adorable. And I felt like I had to keep saying, “I LOVE HIM, I MISS HIM when he sleeps and I want to carry him all over again if I get a couple hours out.” But I guess my point is that while they are beautiful blessings who add boundless joy to our lives, we can STILL say it’s TOUGH and “can I get some help even in small ways?”
Also, it’s tough to even let myself complain w/o feeling that dreaded GUILT because in some ways I act like First Generation Korean, as in, “OF COURSE you should lose yoself in your baby. THAT’S CALLED MOTHERHOOD!” We can talk more I’m sure. SEE YOU SOON EEMO!
And I know everyone has it tough, not just the mamas. Like my hubby who works hard all day at the office, then has to come home and immediately wash his hands so that he can switch gears and take over so that I can exhale. He never has a break so we do have to be better about these “date nights”…
even though i’m not a mom i can only imagine how hard it is to constantly have your attention on your baby. i mean even though i go to work, when i come home i need some time to just veg. you don’t have any time to just veg. i don’t know how moms do it- the constant attention and sacrifice. i can see why motherhood is such an intense, life-changing experience.