Wednesday, October 12

Ahh, Motherhood

Irony can be defined as "incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity." Motherhood is ironic. Not to be confused with moronic, although it can sometimes make you feel that way too. Motherhood has brought out the best in me and the worst in me, and given my self-critical, over-analytical personality, I definitely tend to notice the worst more than the best. I don't know if becoming a mom has changed me or if it has just magnified some of the crazy that was lying dormant inside, but there are lots of new personality quirks I'm having to come to grips with that cause me to occasionally mourn the loss of the child-free, un-mom Shelby that once existed.

So what's the problem? It's not the loss of freedom and spontaneity or the 7:30 curfew we have every night. It's not the additional time it takes to get ready to go somewhere or the hassle it is to just get in and out of the car wherever we go. It's not the constant demands from a tiny human who shows no gratitude or awareness of all your sacrifices. It's not the extra money we spend on groceries now, or the decreased space in our living room because of baby stuff, or even the loss of my Saturday morning sleep-in tradition. Those are all lovely changes that have come with the baby, but they're all manageable and I can deal with them. Over the past seven months I've adjusted to these things with what I would consider to be very little complaining (but it may depend on what your definition of "very little" is).

But I didn't answer the question... what's the problem? The problem is my brain. This new "mommy brain" or whatever you want to call it is wearing me out! It never stops. It's constantly planning or worrying or adjusting or nagging or getting emotional or just causing chaos in general. I remember a time when I thought I worried about myself or my husband a lot, but that was just a drop in the bucket of all the worries that creep up when a baby is in the picture. What if he's not sleeping enough? What if he's not eating enough? What if his nose is running and he has a bad cough? What if I'm too rigid with his schedule? What if I don't keep things consistent with him? What if he's not sitting up as well as he should be by this age? What if I don't talk to him enough? What if he doesn't talk to me enough? Shouldn't he be babbling by now instead of just screeching? Is he developmentally delayed? Could it be autism? What if? What if? What if? See how it spirals out of control!

The worry, the self-doubt, the nagging criticisms that my brain can't seem to tune out. Play with the baby but don't play with him too much because he needs to learn to play independently. But don't leave him alone too much because then you're just being selfish and serving your own needs/wants. Be attentive to the baby's sleep cues so you can lay him down for a nap when he's sleepy, but don't be so overly aware of or reactive to the cues that he spends more time in his crib than awake playing and socializing. Good grief! I'm starting to question how I'm still sane after seven months of this, but what is scary is that I'm afraid there's this new factory in my brain that will churn out all these irrational fears and concerns and anxieties for the next 20, 30, 50 years as long as I'm a mom. I imagine it will come up with fresh, new topics to plague me with at every developmental stage of my child's life.

Ok, so now that I sound like a complete mental case, let me just go ahead and put the icing on the cake. The part of a woman's brain that goes crazy with motherhood apparently has no equivalent in the man's brain. Blaine doesn't lose any sleep over whether Brock pooped enough diapers. He doesn't go to bed at night thinking, "Did I do anything to significantly mess up my son's head today?" It appears that he doesn't have any insecurity issues with fatherhood and that everything is just as easy, if only slightly less convenient at times, as it was before we had children. I know for a fact that he is much less affected by the negative side of parenthood because of how ready to have another baby he already is!

But the more mothers I talk to, the more I realize that these things are just what make us mothers. I mean, not that we should go around acting on all these worries and fears and we shouldn't let them dominate our lives, but I don't know if they can ever be completely turned off because I think the awareness, the sensitivity, the organization, and the preparedness are all the things that make up that famous "mother's intuition" we hear so much about. There is a role I fulfill as a mom that Blaine will never have to fulfill, just like he has a specific role as a father that I cannot and should not try to fulfill. No, my life (nor my mind) will never be as simple as it once was, and I will get choked up at every stupid, sappy Hallmark commercial they put on tv and spend ridiculous amounts of money on professional pictures of my baby because they know how to get me. I'll cry when Brock hurts and I'll worry when unexpected things happen and I'll have doubts about whether I'm a good mom and whether I did the best job possible every day. And I'll just have to take comfort in the fact (or maybe the hope) that I'm not the only one who's ever experienced all this craziness. We'll see how my kids turn out... surely it could be worse, huh?

1 comment:

  1. I know I'm not a mom, but I think all the things you wrote are proof of what a good mom you desire to be, and how much love you have for Brock! Shelby, one of the most freeing things for me, was when my mom came to terms with the fact that not everything I did, said, felt, thought was a personal result or reflection of her parenting... It was far too much pressure on my end, and I'm sure hers too! Thanks for being sincere and real!