My face when I catch my little girl eating some tissue
And then she burps.
Photos by Seth Casteel
I love my daughter down to the core, but sometimes she can really drive me nuts.
“I’m crying just so I can see how my mommy will react!”
Now that she’s a year old, I’ve noticed that my sweet little baby has been replaced with a real human being, complete with the ability to push other people’s buttons.
Although she’s still sweet 99 percent of the time, the remainder is spent testing her limits — throwing things on the floor then staring at me to see my reaction, touching things I specifically told her not to, and doing backbends when she does not want to get picked up. Fun.
When she gets into one of those moods, I approach the situation as calmly as possible.
“I want to tear my hair out!”
Other times, I just do a serene face to help my little darling calm down.
I think it’s safe to say that after a whole year of being a mom, I’m an expert at handling a fussy baby.
“Let’s just wait for daddy to come home.”
On those days, one thought keeps me going: I’m not here. I look forward to when I can finally step away from taking care of the baby and catch a break. Mothers, I am learning, need a breather from the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the territory of raising a person.
So, I take a break. Maybe I can even devote some time to blog. Frankly, these breaks don’t last very long. I come running back to my baby because even if she can drive me crazy, I’m just a mess without her.
“Waaaah. I miss my baby.”
I couldn’t resist. I encountered this painting by Eugène Carrière through one of my daily blog reads and it reminded me so much of Hannah as a newborn.
via Marvelous Kiddo
This picture was taken on the day we came home from the hospital. My little three-day old, gingerly touching my bloated face.
Wish your mommy a happy birthday, Hannah. It’s my first with you around, and I can’t even imagine life before you. You and your daddy are the reasons why this is the best birthday ever.
Rainy season is bug season. I never minded it very much before; but since Hannah arrived, I’ve become a lean, mean mosquito killing machine I now have bionic reflexes. I can grab mosquitoes in mid-flight and crush them at one fell swoop. If you’ve got wings and an intention to bite my daughter, you’re dead.
In less violent news, unless you’re fabric, I’ve discovered another skill. Crafting! Using this pattern as a guide, I made a fabric flower for Hannah. We were going to an event and I thought her plain white dress was a little too blah.
I’m totally high off the success of my little project. Today a flower, tomorrow the world. Martha, I’ve got my eye on you.
Sometimes motherhood feels like,
As I mentioned before, the only things I took care of before were a tomato plant and a dog. I have no idea what to expect when it comes to raising a human being and that uncertainty can be very stressful.
Other times, I swear motherhood is like,
A lot has been said about motherhood being a balancing act. You have to find time to take care of the baby, be a wife, run the household, maintain a career. Plus there are so many articles about how you can look good while doing all of these things.
All I can say is that there is no balance, especially during the first couple of weeks. I’ve learned from experience (I accepted a writing assignment that was due two days after I gave birth. Duh.) that if you try to have it all, you just end up doing a shoddy job at all of them.
Motherhood entails sacrifice. In my case, it means giving up work assignments and time alone. As far as looking good? Lies. I consider it a lucky day if I get to completely rinse the shampoo off my hair before having to run out of the bathroom.
Another lie? That parenting is a private affair.
Nobody told me that there’s parenting pressure. It’s like peer pressure, only 10 million times worse. Other people will inevitably have a say in how you are dealing with your kid. It can range from the subtle — “Oh, you just let your baby go through the hiccups. Some parents give their babies milk.” — to swatting your hand away as you’re cleaning up your child because they think you’re doing it wrong (yes, this has happened to me).
There’s also a self-imposed kind of pressure. I find myself eyeing other parents, gauging myself against them. I think, are they doing a better job? Since I didn’t get the fancy, Scandinavian designed strollers like they did, will my kid’s development be stunted?
I even spent a morning calculating the percentage of Facebook likes a picture of my child received to make sure that others get how pretty she is. In case you’re curious, based on the ratio of responses to number of Facebook friends, we’re at 13.8%. Not bad compared to the others who were at10.4% and even 5%. Still there’s room for improvement so I’m thinking I should be more active in social networking sites.
You say neurotic? I say, try being a parent. There’s so much love in your heart for this little one that you just want to make sure, be absolutely sure, that you’re giving her the best because she deserves it.
Finally, nobody mentioned that no matter how stressful, frustrating, or exhausting it is, there’s is no feeling greater than seeing your baby’s big belly, changing her diaper, or smelling her tiny toes. Wait, other mothers have said that?
Well, it bears repeating.
How do you know that you’re dealing with parents? They cheer over occasions that only a parent will celebrate.
Even occasions when nothing really happens.
Hannah sighs and we fall into a trance. She coos, we burst at the seams with delight. All she has to do is exist and we’re done for. She’s the best, most amazing little lady in the whole universe.
Oh, and one more sign you’re dealing with a parent? We tend to speak in a very distinct way.
This week was a big week for us.
On Friday, I went to my first work meeting since giving birth. I was super excited to talk to another adult and converse over matters that were important enough to take notes on. Plus, I would be doing all that while wearing actual shoes. What a treat.
The meeting was quite interesting for the first 30 minutes or so. Then, it hit me.
I missed my daughter so badly. The meeting was an unbelievable waste of time compared to time spent with Hannah. With my notes in disarray and my shoes pinching my feet, I realized with utmost finality that my priorities have shifted. I just wanted to hold my baby.
By the 45 minute mark, I had all sorts of scenarios running through my head. What if the milk I packed for her spilled and she’s starving? What if she’s crying for me and I’m not there so she forgets me? Forever.
It’s funny how the brain works in situations like this.
Did I mention that I made arrangements for my mom to babysit Hannah and that they were about five minutes from where I was?
A mama’s heart is a strange thing indeed. Having Hannah has inspired me to work harder than ever before. I want her to have a good life and I never want to deprive her of anything she needs. More importantly, I want her to see me as a strong, accomplished woman so she can be better than I am and achieve greater things than what I even dream of now. But at the same time, I just want to spend every waking moment with her. Anything less feels like I’m letting her down.
Can I just clone myself please? Although I have a feeling that might not work either.