Let me preface this by saying I love being a mom. I’m not even sure what I did before I had kids.
Well, actually, that’s a lie…
Confession #1. I love being a mom but I know exactly what I did before I had kids. And I miss it. At times, I still find myself mourning my loss – my optimistic pre-baby self clashes with my realistic, cynical mom-self more often than I was expecting it would. Friends invite us on a trip to Hawai’i and the independent, carefree (and slowly dying) part of me screams, “DUH! IN!” while the rational, often cynical part of me quickly estimates the trip’s cost, equates it to one month of daycare for both of the boys and literally just laughs my former self into a corner. I love being a mom, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world but I can’t lie, every time someone asks me what I did before I had my boys – like the bliss of parenthood has just wiped away my memory – I have to bite my tongue and appease, “I have no idea.” But please know, I do have an idea – I have several. And, quite honestly, I’m grateful I do.
Confession #2. I’m not a baby person or a stay-at-home-mom person. If it didn’t sound so harsh, I might go out on a limb and say I hate being on maternity leave. But since I’m rounding out my 8 weeks as I type, and my days are (finally) beginning to feel less like a countdown to vacation and more like a countdown to going back to work, I’ll digress and say maternity leave is uncomfortable, challenging, exhausting and 80% of the time unenjoyable.
The first month and a half of maternity leave, with both of my boys, was a complete mind fuck. If I was holding the baby, I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing something around the house. If I was folding laundry or showering, I felt guilty that I wasn’t holding or playing with the baby. I was constantly worried the baby was sleeping too much or not pooping enough, that he was too detached or too needy. I worried Seth would come home after work with our first son and wonder what I’d been doing all day, why I hadn’t showered or why the dishes weren’t put away. Breastfeeding weighed heavy on my mind and on my body (someone probably should have mentioned it’s one of THE hardest and most painful things I’d probably ever put myself through). And I was constantly thinking about all the liars in the world – WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? According to everything I’d heard and EVERY ONE I talked to maternity leave was supposed to be this beautiful time of bonding, long white linen gowns, overflowing love, baby snuggles and floating on a fluffy cloud. I was NOT on a cloud. My mind was a cluster and my emotional reaction to (literally) everything was one monstrosity after another. I often wondered if I had postpartum but I ended up having to get screened with no such luck. This was just me adjusting to my new(est) life and realizing I’m not a baby person and that I could never be a stay-at-home mom.
Confession #3. When I met my first baby I was certain he was a prodigy, a saint, a literal miracle and there would never be anything better. When I met my second, I wondered if I’d ever love him as much as my first. OKAY, now, I feel a really strong need to say I love both of my kids and if anything happened to them…well, I literally can’t even. BUT my second time was so different in ways that made me feel so incredibly guilty. My boys are exactly, to the day, 18 months apart. So when Abbott finally arrived, even while so overcome with happiness, a small part of me was wondering how Matheson (my oldest) was, what he would think and how he would adjust. Even as the doctors measured and weighed Abbott I remember wishing Matty could be there. AND THAT IS ABSURD. But that’s how it was. In the following days, all of the stresses of having a new baby set in but this time I was overly concerned with my emotional connection to the baby – the whole thing just seemed very lackluster in comparison. The sense of guilt was heavy. Everyone had said the baby would come and I would just suddenly feel like my heart had expanded. They said I’d love him just as much if not more. But they were wrong. It took me weeks to feel that attachment I’d been hoping for but it did come – and the relief I felt was unparalleled.
These are my confessions for this week. And I’m sure there will be more. Plenty more.