Never have I seen so many superstitious people as I have since giving birth. Through the duration of my pregnancy, I've had the pleasure of coming to know several other women that found themselves likewise knocked up. Now that most of us have had our babies (although there are still several that are finishing up their cooking time), it's interesting to see where these women (and myself) are at emotionally. We are wise enough to know that even when things are going well with our newest addition to the family, to admit this out loud tempts God to punish you for such pride. I've never been so happy to surround myself with so many wooden objects as I am now, in case the need suddenly arises to appease myself with the fates and knock on wood after admitting I have a well-behaved baby.
But sometimes no matter how bloody our knuckles, even knocking on wood cannot protect us from the condition of a fussy child. Strangely, it is a bit of a relief to admit we have a fussypants on our hands. Afterall, I am well acquainted with the look of someone that silently loathes me for having a well-mannered child as they smile politely and say, "how nice for you," through clenched teeth. As the saying goes, misery loves company and this is particularly true of an exhausted and hormonal new mother.
In the interest of full disclosure, the last week has been particularly rough on me (which I hate to admit). But I set this blog up to document this experience and that doesn't mean creating an illusion of the truth I want people to believe. Since North's crying jags have begun, I had felt incompetent as a mother and ineffectual as a soother of a crying infant. The experience had me feeling numb and scared of my child. While I could still enjoy the good moments with my little boy, I dreaded the future outburst from him that I had no confidence to calm.
I find myself knocking on the wooden desk I'm typing upon even now, feeling more secure in my newfound skills as a mother. While both Dave and I have developed new talents of calming a crying child, the more valuable mindset I've developed in the last week is that of not caring what any outside observer thinks of my mothering skills. I've learned how to convince myself that babies will cry and it is not my fault. It is not the fault of my clean floors when my baby has gas that he needs to work through. The fact that I failed to sleep when he sleeps for the upteenth day in a row is not causing his temporary colic. As of tomorrow, we've had this child in our care for a grand total of 3 weeks and you know what---I'm pretty damn proud of how far we've come in that time. And yes, today was a stellar day (even with a little bit of fussiness thrown into the mix) but we overcame the fear and enjoyed the beautiful day.
Really, I'm writing this for any new mother out there that has or will have similar feelings. I believe doubting yourself and what you are capable of is normal. Just choose not to allow these negative thoughts to rule you (and if the people around you are making you feel this way, address this with them immediately). While everyone's experience is absolutely unique, I know such self-doubt will only lead to more bad experiences down the road.
While North is far and away my number one priority right now because he is at his most vulnerable; my husband, our pets, and my ambition are still on the forefront of my mind as well. Learning to balance all of them has been my mission in the last 3 weeks; but even before that, the art of a well balanced life has always been my most important and never-ending challenge. Having a baby just adds one more ball to my juggling act.