Dear New Mom

DearNewMom
Dear New Mom,
First of all, congratulations! You survived the pregnancy in all its glory and ickiness. You survived the birth; scarred perhaps, physically or emotionally, and stronger because of it. You now hold your precious baby in your arms. The euphoria still lingers, the heavenly scent of their newborn head somehow makes the whole ordeal seem worthwhile. Breathe it in. Because soon reality will hit.

I want you to know that there will be tears. Yours as well as your baby’s. It’s ok. You will be tired. So. Very. Tired. You will likely have moments of self-doubt. Are you really cut out for this? Moments of regret. Maybe this baby wasn’t such a good idea. Moments of resenting your baby for stealing your life, sucking your energy, distancing your childless friends, changing your body irrevocably, and robbing you of [insert your favorite things here] and sleep. Precious sleep.

Then again, I’m overly dramatic and maybe you won’t. Maybe, when you hold your baby for the first time you will henceforth wear a permanent “yay! I’m a Mom!” smile on your face until the day they leave home for college.

But I doubt it.

I want you to know you will make mistakes. Mystery crying will fluster you into giving colic remedy when you should’ve given teething gel, or infant Tylenol when really their pajamas were just making them too hot. You may think you have naps all figured out one week, only to find out how wrong you are the following. It’s ok. This is normal.

For a while you might not recognize yourself in the reflection of shop windows as you walk the streets with your baby. Who is that? You’ve traded in your cute little purses for diaper bags, trendy haircuts for headbands and ponytails, push ups for nursing bras, and late nights for early mornings. In time you will get to know the new you. Don’t worry, the old you is still in there, although it may feel like that you, that life, is over and gone and the scope of what you’ve lost compared to what you’ve gained may make you immensely sad and want to run away. It’s ok. This too is normal.

You will ponder how it is possible for such a tiny mouth to rule your life. Wonder how you will survive months of not sleeping longer than 3 hours in a row. Think of all the Moms in the world, how we’ve all been there. And somehow we make it through.

You will marvel at the fact that everyone starts out life so tiny and dependent, and you will finally fully realize what your Mother went through. You will call to thank her. And apologize.

You will come to do things that you never imagined you’d do. Sniffing butts, powdering scrotums, sucking snot (thank Goodness for noseFrida!), and one day when you’re really lucky, catching vomit with your cupped hands. Again, all normal.

You will be pushed to your limits only to find that you still have more to give. And just when you think you might crack, your heart will break open at their first real smile or giggle or the gentle way they reach their little hand to your face. And as you laugh and beam and cry all at the same time, you finally feel it. That “Mother” feeling. It might feel foreign and scary at first, or it might feel completely natural. Either way, it’s ok. This is normal. All the craziness, the mistakes, the happy highs and the desperate lows- ALL of the emotional roller coaster that is parenthood, is normal. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.

So to all you nervous and giddy new Moms out there, happy 1st Mother’s Day!

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1977 vs. 2014 Mommy stress

Since the birth of my son, I’ve turned to my Mother from time to time for insight and advice. She raised my brother and I, and we turned out pretty great, so naturally I thought she’d be a wellspring of information on babies.

I. Was. Wrong.

Her response to almost every question I’ve had? “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.” The next runner-up: “Oh you would know more than me, with all your reading. I was just winging it, being a hippie Mom.”

So this got me thinking about the vast difference in the typical Mommy stress in 1977 compared to 2014.

1977vs2014


What Moms in 1977 worried about:

  • “Feed the baby when it’s hungry.”
  • “Change baby’s diaper when it’s wet/dirty.”
  • “Help baby nap and sleep, but if baby resists, no big deal. Let them stay up late with you, watching TV/jamming with our friends.”
  • “All the other Moms in my Library storytime group seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    What Moms in 2014 worry about:

  • “I know breast is best, but should I supplement with formula for the added DHA and Iron?”
  • “My baby is in a high/low percentile for weight/length.”
  • “What kind of diaper should we use? Is cloth diapering really the more environmental option?”
  • “What kind of stroller/baby carrier should we use?”
  • “Should we vaccinate?”
  • “Co-sleeping or crib sleeping?”
  • “Attachment parenting or baby training?”
  • “What method of sleep training should we do?”
  • “How the heck do I get my baby to sleep?! They require 4-6 HOURS IN NAPS A DAY & 10-12 AT NIGHT FOR PROPER BRAIN DEVELOPMENT!”
  • “Did I remember to give the Vitamin D drops/Infant probiotics/homeopathic colic remedy, and stimulate them with black & white high contrast images/songs/story books/tummy time EVERY DAY?”
  • “Is this amber teething necklace really working?”
  • “How do I prevent my baby from watching me text and wanting to play with my Smart Phone?”
  • “All the other Moms in my Stroller bootcamp class seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    I guess some things are the same.

    I just try to gently remind myself — whenever I am stressing out over (lack of) naps, forgetting the daily D drops, or my son being in the 5-10th weight percentile — that I truly am doing the best I can and if he’s fed, clean, happy, and the house isn’t on fire, then it’s a good day.

    And now that I’ve already read all the books, websites and blogs, I can just let it all go, trust my instincts and be a carefree millennium-hippie Mom. (I think I just made that term up) I can try, at least.

    Besides, apparently late night TV and second-hand pot smoke didn’t hurt me!

    Are you cut out for this wedding thing?

    There is a stereotype in our society that most women dream about their weddings from the time they are little girls playing with Barbies. And like all stereotypes, this is not true in all cases. I had thought about getting married from time to time over the years, but it was never something I daydreamed of much. I was more concerned about finding the right partner to embark on that journey with, not so focused on destination: wedding.


    So, like many women, I had little idea what was in store for us when we got engaged. In our financial situation a wedding coordinator was out of the question, so we began the process of planning our own ‘big day’. Now that I am halfway though our 13 month engagement, have read over a dozen books on the subject, and have familiarized and submersed myself in most of the relevant websites online, I feel that I am prepared to give this little questionnaire to the newly-engaged, so you can test yourself to see if you are in fact cut out for this crazy thing called weddings.

    (Please note: these questions are intended only for the purpose of determining whether you are well suited for planning and throwing your own wedding, NOT whether you are ready for marriage or marrying Mr/Mrs. Right. Being married requires an entirely different set of skills than event planning. Mmmkay?)


    1. Money Can you afford this on your own, or will you need to borrow from a line of credit, go into credit card debt, or ask your parents for money? Do you have experience creating and managing large scale budgets, realistically estimating costs and staying within those parameters? Do you have the assistance of someone else to help you, such as your significant other, Mother, or best friend? In general, what is your relationship to money? Are you a saver, or a spender? How do you handle paying down debt? If any of these questions frighten you, you will need to carefully consider whether you want to take this particular bull by the horns.

    2. Event planning and volunteer coordination Have you any previous experience throwing a large scale event? If you have, do you remember how it typically involves many coordinators, leading teams of dedicated volunteers to pull it off? Who will be your team leaders? Who will be your dedicated volunteers? Know your support network- and don’t assume, ask. Very. Politely.


    3. The emotional rollercoaster ride How do you handle stress? Are you an adrenaline junkie, or do you shy away from it? How do you feel about being the center of attention? How do you feel about potentially ‘ruffling feathers’ of family and friends? For example, if you can’t invite everyone and people’s feelings are hurt, or you decide to have a more formal, adults-only event? There are close to a million wedding-related things that can potentially strain or ruin friendships and family ties, not to mention your relationship with your beloved. Bridezilla is not a mythical creature. She is real, very scary, and can happen to the best of us.

    4. Your day, your way Are you an assertive person, or a people pleaser? How will you stand up to family, friends and vendors who question, judge or try to over-rule your choices? How will you react if your Mother or Mother-in-law starts planning your wedding in a way that you hate? Is this wedding all about YOU? Or both you AND your partner? Do you typically agree on things? Do you want to plan this together, while your significant other is silently expecting you to do it all? Better get clear on your shared vision for the event and your values surrounding the complicated myriad of customs, traditions, and ‘wediquette’.

    5. Decorating How well do you know your own style? Do you have a clear vision of how you want to create a unique, personal aesthetic for the event, or will you find it easier and less stressful to make popular, trendy choices? Are you a DIY, crafty queen? If not, do you have the funds to buy or rent?

    and the final, big question:

    6. Eloping Do you really want a WEDDING? Or do you just want to be married to the person you love, and take a fabulous trip together? If so, I suggest a simple ceremony at the Law Courts, and jet off for your honeymoon the next day! Why spend all that money on hosting family and friends when you could be in Tahiti! The Mediterranean! With the average wedding costing anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000- some adventurous couples decide they would rather take the trip of a lifetime with that kind of budget. Many people feel that one month in Europe or southeast Asia would be better value for their money than a 5 hour wedding. Think about it….

    But seriously, folks. If you catch yourself suddenly stressing over things that never mattered to you before, or having a meltdown because of some little hitch in your ‘dream wedding’ plan, or if you are both having a heart attack as your vendors come back with their quotes- take a minute and re-evaluate what is really important to you, and what’s not.

    I have the advantage of many years of throwing live events: from band gigs and tours, to raves in the forest, and Burning Man theme camps. I’ve created and managed budgets, and I have also co-ordinated volunteers and been a volunteer for music, film, and theatre festivals. I am also used to living on a budget (my gross annual income has pretty much always been below what my government considers the poverty line), love thrifting and re-using and could never dream of spending anywhere close to the national average on a single day of my life. In all these ways, I have found that I am doing pretty well with planning my own wedding.

    I am, of course, hoping for a long, happy marriage, so this will be my one and only wedding. However, hypothetically, if I WAS to do it again in the future, and I had more money- I would hire help. So for Pete’s sake, if you can afford it, hire a wedding planner. Live your life. You want to be a glowing vision of beauty on your wedding day, not a frazzled bundle of nerves. The other day I realized that 10 months of my life was going towards planning 12 hours (essentially). Crazy, isn’t it?

    So what do you think? Are you cut out for this wedding thing?