Tonight, as I celebrated my child finally falling asleep by having a drink, I was overcome by an unexpected moment of clarity. I owe you a huge apology, veteran moms. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I totally get it. I finally understand your quiet chuckles and head shaking when I was a new mom and thought I knew it all. I realize now that I was clueless, and I’m a little embarrassed.
I was the eager new mom who spent nine months becoming a self-certified parenting expert through the Internet and books. My countless hours spent googling pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, sleep training, and parenting styles left me pretty much knowing everything (or so I thought). I thought my research in all things motherhood made me far more qualified than the skills you acquired through being an actual mother.
I was such a douchebag, and I’m sorry. In my defense, I was excited and wanted to do it all right. Seriously though, thank you so much for not smacking the ever-loving shit out of me in the beginning.
I’m sorry for practically murdering you with my eyes when you supportably mentioned that maybe breastfeeding wasn’t for me and that everything would still be ok.
I’m sorry for blowing you off when you suggested I unswaddle my baby to get her sleep.
I’m sorry for buying newborn art flashcards and insisting you show them to my child when she was too little to even see.
I’m sorry for burying the cartoon character onesie you bought for her in the bottom of the dresser because I swore she’d never wear anything like that in public.
I’m sorry for flipping out when you tried to feed my child a spoonful of table food a few weeks before the official date the doctor said to start her on solid food.
I’m sorry for getting pissed off when you gave my child a cheese curl.
I’m sorry for shooting down any of the advice you offered the first year with my little one because it contradicted what I had “read”. I remember telling you a few times that it’s not the way you’re supposed to do things anymore. Whatever it was.
I’m mostly sorry for being so incredibly obnoxious.
From day one, I was determined to do everything the “right” way. I would have a vaginal birth and breastfeed with ease. My baby would sleep contently swaddled in her own bed knowing she had the best mother a child could ask for. I was going to raise the brightest, most polite, and emotionally well-adjusted child anyone had ever raised in the history of the world. My child was never going to eat junk food, wear character T-shirts, and would say please and thank you every time she needed anything,
Only none of that actually happened.
I ended up needing a C-section, my kid wouldn’t latch on so I had to exclusively pump and bottle feed for a year. I supplemented with formula. My child hated to be swaddled despite me buying a dozen swaddling blankets and sleep sacks. After a while, we added to the learning flashcards with blocks and (gasp) Barbie dolls. My kid likes to eat potato chips and loves sugary cereal when she can get her hands on it. She doesn’t always say please or thank you and regularly throws herself on the ground in a screaming fit. My house is usually a mess, and I’m always tired.
Veteran mom, you will be happy to know that this morning, I sent my child to day care wearing a Minnie Mouse T-shirt and matching tutu because I found it on sale and because she loves it. Her hair was tangled because I couldn’t find the brush before leaving the house this morning. She smeared snot across her face, and I left it there as I hurried to get her into her classroom.
Being a mom is nothing like I had imagined, but I’ve settled in nicely. I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect; I make mistakes every day. I still try to do the best for my child, but in a much more realistic and relaxed way. I know enough now to know that I don’t have all the answers, and I value your opinion and advice more than ever.
So, thank you. Thank you for not slapping me silly. Thank you for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for keeping your mouth shut and not putting me in my place. Thank you for letting me figure this out on my own.
image via iStockPhoto