I’ve been thinking about babies. A lot. Not my walking, talking, roaming alwaysbemybaby Bean or her friends. No, I mean actual babies. Crying, mewling, suckling, shitting, vomiting, sighing, sleeping, finger-holding ickle tiny cute wee babies.
Or rather, baby, singular. In a sling, against my breast, where I can smell its lovely head.
So it has occurred to me that the crucial point at which my memories of how traumatic my first six months of motherhood were have faded sufficiently for me to contemplate going back to newborn la-la land might be around about now. (Don’t get too excited. I only said contemplate…)
Obviously, life has gotten much easier since I wrote about being a human venn diagram with a severe sleep deficiency. But why? Most people seem to think that toddler wrangling is harder than babycare but it hasn’t been that way for me. I guess because:
- Bean was a particularly difficult baby. I won’t stand for the good/bad baby thing but the reality is some of them are difficult. They are. She was a ‘crying baby’. I know now that I should have pushed harder for the health nurse and doctor to take my concern that she had reflux more seriously but at the time all I heard were people telling me that some babies just cry. And cry.
And so do their mothers.
- I don’t take no shit no more. It’s probably easier to feel confident now that my daughter is so obviously healthy (she used to look so thin) but I put a lot of it down to experience. I’ve been doing this parenting gig for almost two years now so I figure I’ve earned the right to ignore unsolicited advice, even (especially) when it comes from professionals whose opinions I take issue with.
- I feel more supported. For those early months I felt the lack of a supportive maternal figure and a closeknit extended family like a looming prescence in the middle of my life. And I was too afraid of unravelling in front of people to ask for much help. Asking for help is still tough for me but at least I have worked on assembling enough of a network that I know that there are people who could watch Bean in a pinch, and who listen to me rant about motherhood sucking without judgement.
- I’m better with a walking-talking-person than a little squishy grub. It’s true. I loved her perfect babyness but I always suspected that I’d enjoy her more when she could do some things for herself and it’s proven to be true. I’m actually excited about mothering a teenager. (Oh yeah, the next ten years are going to beat that out of me no doubt!)
- There is so much about her to feel joyful about. This morning I dropped Bean at daycare and one of her little friends was crying so she ran up to hug her, and then she turned and waved and said ‘bye Mum!’ and picked up a pile of blocks. She’s got compassion, confidence, self-assuredness. How’d that happen?
- My depression is being effectively treated. Funny how life gets easier when it’s not a struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
- As a baby, Bean was shy and clingy. I let her cling, believing, hoping that if she got her fill of reassurance she’d eventually have the strength to go off on her own, so I didn’t push her even when relatives or health nurses encouraged me to. Now, I can leave her at the gym creche and she enjoys it, I can leave her at daycare and she bounds in the door and fully trusts I’ll be back to get her before too long. It’s so much easier to parent when we can be separate as well as together.
It’s so much easier to be me, when I can live within the boundaries of my own skin.
And yet, I’m keen to go back to newborn daze all over again. I guess that for me, the blurred-boundaries, womb-and-breast connection really does have a pull all of its own, afterall.