My dear, sweet friend from the days of yore just had her first baby. She, unfortunately, was experiencing issues with infertility as well so I’m thrilled for her that she gets to join this rat race called motherhood.
During a brief dinner with her and some other friends (all moms) last week I rather stupidly, and like all the mothers I hated in the first 6 months, asked her, “So, are you loving being a mommy?” It took me about 4 seconds before I recanted and called myself a dirty name. Being the forgiving type, she smiled and said something along the lines of, “I like being a mom, but I don’t think I realized it would be this hard. I’m not really like, having fun.” Everyone at the table nodded and waited for her to say something surprising. Pause. Oh. That was the surprising part.
I was immediately transported back to the first 5 months of Abe’s life. I looked at every other mother on the planet and wondered, “WHERE IN THE HELL DID YOU LEARN TO DO THIS?” and “WHY ARE YOU SO EFFING HAPPY?” When Abe was 6 weeks old the very same friend asked me if I wanted her to come over and cuddle Abe for me so I could take a nap. I looked at her with, I imagine, the most accusatory, dirt-covered face and snapped, “He doesn’t snuggle. He screams. That’s all he does.” And then I stared longingly at the 14-month-old one table over who was smiling and waving and feeding herself. Wish my baby was that cool…
It’s weird because whether it’s the mom in line at Target shoving cookies down her kids’ throat or the woman at the DMV nursing her child while sitting on what I can only refer to as a communicable disease, we all think everybody else knows what the hell is going on and we are the only ones who aren’t getting it right. I remember seeing friends with kids thinking, “Why is it so easy for her?” or asking, “How are you so happy?” And you know what? It wasn’t and they weren’t. And they often told me it wasn’t and they weren’t, but I didn’t hear it. I just manifested a universe next door full of moms appearing to be in a perpetual state of candy cane bliss. I can’t tell you if that’s what postpartum depression is, or if that’s what all moms go through. But I know every other woman at the table that evening nodded and smiled at my friend expressing herself.
Today I can safely say that I don’t know what I’m doing from day to day and probably never will. I’m making it up. I get advice (really great advice) and information from people I know, but for the most part I just smile like I forgot my lines and walk offstage to take a deep breath. Like yesterday afternoon, for example, when Abe woke up from his nap apparently after a troll crept into his room and poked him with sharp sticks until he screamed.
I offered him a snack, a drink, and a movie. He cared for none of these things and instead insisted on slowly wandering around the house, dragging his blanket behind, stopping only to scream at every object we own one at a time. “WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THESE PICTURES UP FROM HALLOWEEN?” and “I CAN’T BELIEVE NO ONE HAS TAKEN ME TO DISNEY WORLD YET!” are two of the things I caught. And, because that wasn’t headache-inducing enough, he tripped on his blanket and slammed his head into a cabinet to, once again, bust his lip open. I’m going to have to start dating a plastic surgeon soon.
If you are a mom and you’re not drugging your kids (at least not daily) or physically/emotionally hurting them on purpose, you’re doing a good job. The next time you see a mom who isn’t doing any of those things in the previous sentence, tell her she’s doing a good job. Because you are, and she is. This blog is dedicated to that dear friend of mine. Everybody take a minute to tell her what a great job she’s doing, and how it will get easier. And more fun!