Friday, August 03, 2007

The Way We Were (Are)

I was on the subway the other day with Avery or was it Madeline and slid into a seat next to a woman just as the train lurched ahead. By slid I mean I practically tumbled into a random woman’s lap. She was quite understanding and made the requisite baby comments. She told me about her one-year-old at home. And then she said “Isn’t it really hard? Being a parent?” Who says these sort of things? To strangers on a subway?

Regardless, she picked the wrong person to talk to if she was being rhetorical because 1.) I have no problem opening up to complete strangers and 2.) I can talk for long periods of time and 3.) I find this parenting thing, to quote her, really hard.

It is insane how intimate you can get between 14th Street and 50th Street. I was happy to have an ear willing to listen to me and she was happy to unpack her dark un-PC thoughts. I even thought about staying on the train past my stop so we could talk more. But I thought that might be too much of a good thing. So we wrapped it up, a little awkwardly since I had approximately 5 seconds before the subway doors closed shut again. We wished each other luck, and she went speeding off uptown in the dark tunnel with her dark thoughts and I climbed back into the sunlight of the street, a little brighter and a little less alone.

This isn’t parenting, not quite, what I am doing. This is schedule management and feeding management and sanitation disposal and more. When exactly will I feel like a mother? Who is my role model for that?

I was (mis)lead to believe that being a mother was some sort of innate skill set. I was born with mothering abilities. I would rise to the occasion without a single fumble or stumble. I can file that away under Bullshit and Other Lies, much like the old chestnut I Will Get Pregnant When I Want To. Creating these babies took a lot of time and money and energy, and maybe being a (good) mother will take a while too. I have no idea because it is hard to find people willing to talk too much about it.

It is 10:30 on Friday night and already my old life has faded from memory. I am sitting in a dark living room with fidgety Maddie, who, despite all efforts, refuses to sleep. She has been feed and burped and cuddled and walked and bounced and put down in a swing, a bouncy seat, a crib and a co-sleeper. She has had a diaper change and an emergency issuance of gripe water. She has spent time on her acid trip playmat (way too stimulating). She enjoyed a walk in the sultry (ha) Manhattan air. She has been held in no less than six different positions. And she still will not sleep.

If I turned the lights on I am sure I would see her with a smirk on her little face, mocking our efforts. Right now she is in the swing making her loud little breathing noises in such a way that I can tell without even looking at her that her eyes are wide open. I might be better equipped to deal with this except last night was awful… hourly wakings and a stretch from 2 am till 4 am when both babies were up and wired like they just had a six pack of Red Bu*ll. And I was on my own with them from 4 pm until almost 8, when Nicole got home, which to most people might seem like no big deal, but when you have two overtired, colicky babies who desperately need to sleep and need your constant attention, you want a freaking sticker, dammit. Wit these babies, day drifts into night drifts into middle of the night and repeat. It is as if there is no beginning and no end, just an endless loop. A loop, I might add, that I don’t feel particularly “good” at.

I haven’t had much practice.

Pictured above is m-m-m-memories, light the corner of my mind, misty water color memories.…..


nailgirl said...

Oh I am so so sorry. I dont know if you have even thought of this yet so dont shoot me. Please take the babies to a chiropractor. It will do wonders and set their spines in alignment, easing their discomfort.Trust me it works. I have taken all of my babies and they never had colic, Cameron still goes three times a week to get his club foot adjusted.

Becky said...

Parenting IS hard, and you guys are doing an awesome job. Trust me, sometime it will get easier.

Sorry to delurk, but I know sometimes reassurance helps.

flamingogal said...

Delurking to say the chiro advice is spot on. It might be just what these beautiful little ladies (and their moms) need to get their beauty sleep.

Katie said...

I just wanted to say a quick thank you for being so honest about your feelings of motherhood. As someone who doesn't have any kids (yet), it is refreshing to see that everything is not always "perfect", and that you can still make it through.

Jennifer said...

Oh I hear you on the "no one told me". I have a friend that I meet with regularly who understands and who I can share all the dark thoughts. It really helps.

I honestly didn't start enjoying being a mother until Lauren was 6 months old. Until then is was feed, burp, change, scream....lather rinse repeat. For the first 6 months I thought "I did this on purpose?"

I hope it starts to get...less hard soon.

K J and the kids said...

LOVE Babs.
Like's made to look so natural, so easy.

nuttychemist said...

Delurking, to say I think you are doing a great job, it takes quite some time to learn to be a Mom, and not very many people talk about it because they honestly don't remember too much of it. You're going to remember a lot more because you are writing it down, but I didn't keep a journal with my first one and I was asking my husband the other day what it was like to have a newborn at home (we're having another baby in about a month and a half) and honest to god we couldn't come up with what we had done with our daughter, sleep deprivation apparently does that to you!

It's going to get easier and easier and your going to be sitting here in a few months and not remember there was a time when you didn't know what exactly to do for your babies.

BTW I didn't start to feel like a Mom until last week when we had to take our daughter(she just turned 2) to the ER and I was answering all the questions and no one was loooking around me to try and find the real person in charge and my daughter was hugging my neck and saying my name. Up until that moment I had felt like a fraud.

Truck Driver Wife said...

Parenting is very hard. Do the girls like car rides? Or Subway rides? Do you have a dryer? I put the kids in their carseats on the dryer when it was running. That helped with the Colic.

Shelli said...

8 months, it got easier at 8 months.

Until then? It's hard, and the sucky moments feel MUCH MUCH bigger than the bliss moments.

We are here to hang in there with you.