If I only had a brain…

I stood in my child development group, bouncing up and down, swaying back and forth, trying to soothe my screeching child, when our leader looked over and calmly reassured me,

“You are a great mom.”

It seems like a thoughtful and encouraging comment, right?

But I couldn’t stop the devil on the shoulder from whispering, “No, you aren’t.”

At 5:30am, when my daughter has decided that it is a perfect time to kick her little feet in the air and declare it morning (and breakfast time!), I often struggle to resolve how I am going to get to the end of the day. Merely bare bones survival. How will I find it in me to wake up, feed her, feed myself, and make it to the precious time when I will crash into the soft caress of my pillow once again. With such low expectations, it is impossible for me to reflect on this attitude and exclaim, “Woo hoo! I am SuperMom!”

Wait a minute...that's the cat...so, where's the baby?

Wait a minute…that’s the cat…so, where’s the baby?

Combine this trudging through the day with a complete lack of brain activity, and, well, yeah, the result is keys in the freezer, coffee poured on cereal, loads of laundry run without detergent, and hair washed with shave gel.

I recently read this article about how a child’s DNA has been discovered in their mother’s brain. Creepy. But, seriously, I am beginning to think another DNA exchange may occur. One where the mom’s brain cells attach, and leave, with the placenta.

It would explain sooooo much.

Honestly, due to the zombie-like status and self-doubt, I often feel like my daughter ends up being a 15lb shadow. Hanging out in the baby carrier as I fold laundry, chop onions (which you should NEVER do with a baby… it only leads to tears), or pay bills. It is on these days that I wonder if “a mother’s love” is really enough (this was especially questionable on the onion day). After all, when I became a mother, I knew NOTHING about raising a child. Does motherly instinct automatically embed itself with all this traveling DNA?

I am left confounded at the erosion in my confidence over the last 6 months. If you had told me during my professional life, “You are a great organizer” or “Wow, that is one good-looking spreadsheet”, I would probably have agreed and taken the compliment (after all, if you need a sexy, multi-tabbed, inter-linking, color coordinated spreadsheet, I’m your gal). So, why do I find it so hard to believe that someone thinks I am succeeding in motherhood? Is it because the stakes are now so much higher? Because I am responsible for another living being? Because adults are always blaming their parents for one thing or another and with each move I wonder if this will be the thing my daughter discusses in therapy 30 years down the road???

Why is it that we are our own worst critics?

And, really, is anyone actually good at motherhood? Or are we all just flying by the seat of our pants?
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Wanted: Baby Chauffeur

The Chauffeur

The Chauffeur (Photo credit: Paparagazzo)

The soft roar of the engine.

The car seat snuggly creating a cocoon.

The inconsistent movement as we bounce across miles of pavement.

This, my friends, is the Holy Trinity of baby sleep.

We have all heard the horror stories:

“He just would not go to sleep!”
“It was 4am and she had been screaming for hours!”
“She was teething and it screwed up her sleep cycle!”

The answer: Driving in circles around the block.

Not actually going anywhere, just driving. My sister-in-law (mother of a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old) called me the other afternoon, “Are you home?” she asked. After I had confirmed, she proceeded to drive over. Why? It was her only way to win what she is affectionately referring to as The Nap Wars.

The problem with all this driving (other than the high impact on global warming) is that the mother of the inconsolable child is the one behind the wheel. This means:
a) the driver is most likely exhausted/frustrated/delirious
b) the driver is spending more time looking in baby mirrors to see if she has claimed victory than actually looking at the road
and
c) the driver is not accomplishing anything else (like a nap for herself, perhaps!).

Thus, I would like to propose a new career path.

A baby chauffeur.

A kind soul with excellent earplugs to loop around the neighborhood for hours on end. For an hourly rate, just snap your child(ren) into their seat(s), kiss them goodbye, and then go take a hot bubble bath.

I absolutely realize it is the fuzzy haze of sleep deprivation that makes this seem like an answer to pleading prayers.

But, imagine how many little car seats could fit into a limo…Stretch limo

As extreme as this may sound, this would get many mothers I know one step closer to regaining balance in their lives. Because, frankly, motherhood is code for crazy. Why? I believe it comes down to the fact that once you become a mother, pride and vanity get thrown out the window, replaced by a new protective, primal, instinctual being that guards her young with the ferocity of something out of Animal Planet. Once shy women now bark at strangers who almost knock over the stroller, once loud and boisterous women hush and coo with the calm caress of a gentle breeze.

But, as much as we snuggle, sway or swaddle, sometimes, getting that little one to give into gentle dreams means taking a drive.

So, fellow moms, I am calling out, for the sake of sanity, let us join together, admit that we haven’t relaxed since we were pregnant, rent a limo and a fellow named Jeeves, fasten our children in for a soothing drive and claim an afternoon for ourselves, in golden silence.

Who’s with me???

A Mile in Her….uh, Slippers

I feel I should preface this post by admitting the day prior to me writing this was not a great day of motherhood. I woke up feeling nauseated, my daughter was uncharacteristically fussy all day, and my husband came home early feeling not all that hot either. So, our household cranky quota had been met and then some.

In all honesty, I feel it was a day destined to fail. Combine the previously mentioned crank factor with a diaper malfunction that resulted in me being soaked in urine, and well, yeah. It was one of those days where the morning had melted into the afternoon, I had yet to shower, I had accomplished nothing, and dinner had been demoted to leftovers. My daughter had been doing ’emotional eating’ all day, where she nurses simply to nurse, which due to a stomach the size of a walnut, results in ungodly amounts of milk being upchucked onto mommy. In these situations, I often imagine her with an accent of a dirty Frenchman saying something along the lines of Dis? Dis is your offering? Ah-phew. That is what I think of what you call milk. Try again, mommy. She then proceeds to hurl milk curds on me.

So there I stood in my slippers, 1:30pm, still not showered and realizing that, no, the milk had not gone sour, that smell was merely me.

It was in that moment, staring blankly into the refrigerator, hungry, dirty, and exhausted, I realized just how judgemental I had been in the past. I admit, I used to think motherhood was a fairly easy job. After all, you just have to keep a little human alive, right? How hard could it be? I used to raise my eyebrow at moms who were late to meetings, how they showed up to events disheveled with whiny children in tow.

Well, universe, I apologize.

I get it now. I understand how sleep deprivation is not one or two nights with interrupted dreams, rather it is made up of months years of not having eight glorious hours in one continuous chunk. I understand how this little person in your life is EVERYTHING to you. How when they cry, you ache. (And not just because your milk has let down). I understand the frustration that comes when you want nothing more than to hit the snooze button, but no matter how many times you put the pacifier in, they spit it out and continue to cry. Although I still find it disgusting, I understand when moms say they don’t know if they brushed their teeth that morning…*shudder*. I understand how you can end up at the end of another day, still in slippers, wondering what happened.

And, I understand that even with all of this, you would never trade it for the world. How one gummy smile still makes you tear up with joy. How the clench of little fingers wrapped around your thumb can counterbalance the piles of laundry and the rank diapers. How to coax out one squeal, you will throw pride out the window and dance around your living room singing 17 rounds of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Prior to motherhood pregnancy, I wore cute shoes. Peep-toe pumps, strappy sandals, beautiful boots – I loved them all. I used to think a day in stilettos was challenging. Little did I know, a day in slippers can trump that and then some.

Life has once again taught me to think twice before I judge. To put away my sneer and to remember the age-old proverb:

Before you criticize a person, walk a mile in her milk-soaked slippers.