This past Sunday morning, I laid in bed listening to the crying baby across the hall, and instead of popping straight up to retrieve him and stop the tears, I took a minute to daydream. I fantasized about being young and lounging around the house watching Saturday morning cartoons. I remembered those lazy college days when you could actually create a class schedule to avoid 8 a.m. classes (and you still went to your noon class in slippers). I even thought of a not-so-long-ago past when Nate and I could cuddle together before getting up for work, if even for 10 minutes. No noise. No rush. No stress. No, well, I’ll just say it….No baby.
As I took the pillow off my head and stumbled down the hall, these memories washed away (far too quickly) and I stood there, face-to-face with that grinning, 25-inch, 17-pound reminder of what my life is today.
Ah, this new life. What a drastic turn it has taken. I can’t even begin to explain the many various obstacles we’ve experienced, and overcome, not to mention the ghastly effects these obstacles have had on both me and Nate. What obstacles, you ask? Oh, I’ll TELL you what obstacles.
Physical: OK, let’s start shallow. Three months after baby was born, I dyed my hair dark brown. I thought it would detract from the fact that my butt hasn’t gotten any smaller and all the pants I’m stuck wearing either don’t button in the stomach or could fit a small country in the crotch. Well, I’d say it boosted my confidence for about a week. My new life is filled with LOTS of smiles, but the face that goes with it no longer has the application time for lip gloss and bronzer. Instead, I am happy if my eye makeup doesn’t wear off in the shower so I can “reuse” it that day. I’ve started shaving my legs again (three cheers for Nathan!). And, just last week, I sucked it up and took myself to the mall to buy size not-to-be-mentioned pants so I owned some that actually fit where they were supposed to, creating slightly less humiliation amongst my office of pretty people. I still manage to wear ironed clothing and put on deodorant and match my socks and every so often curl my hair, so I’m not going to say I’ve completely mother-morphed, but I have had a few down days here and there. If you ever catch me sporting a fanny pack, however, please just do us all a favor and put me out of my misery.
Mental: Now, you all have to promise not to judge me when I tell you my worst “where was my mind” moment, OK? Promise? OK. Just last week, I thought it would be lovely to take Coen for a crisp, fall walk in his stroller. And, of course I can’t leave the dog behind out of sheer guilt, so she came along too. I wrapped him up in a blanket, put a hat on his head and socks on his feet, and out we went. I set him in his stroller, tied Chloe to her leash, and we were off on our picturesque little family jaunt through the neighborhood. You should know that Chloe tends to pull on her leash at times (bad training on my part), and she decided this day she was going to go squirrel-sprinting the second I was trying to get the stroller up a bumpy curb. It all happened so fast, but the stroller flew forward, the dog took off, and the baby….the baby….um…the baby FELL OUT! He just slid right under the tray, back first, then head first, then bellyflopped onto the sidewalk. I watched the event unfold in slow motion, the whole time thinking, “NO WAY did I forget to BUCKLE HIM IN!” Yes way, Nicki. Yes. Way. After a couple minutes of consoling, he stopped crying and came out scratch-and-dent-free, but the remorse has yet to leave me. Where was my mind? I wonder that a lot these days – I’ll repeat a story four times to the same (patient) neighbor, drive half-way to work without my career-required laptop, shoplift the sunglasses I tried on my head, forget to call my mother back, neglect to flush the toilet, burn the pizza, miss a meeting – you name it, I’ve done it. We’ll be lucky if we all get out alive.
Emotional: Well, this is the toughy for me. When I started writing this blog, I was sitting here listening to my little boy “cry it out” in his crib for the first time. We had his four-month checkup this morning, and I asked the doctor why he wakes up every 2 to 3 hours to eat and she said, “Because you let him.” Hmm, interesting. “So, you’re basically telling me my baby’s got me whipped?” Nod. Great. Now what? We discussed it a little more and Nate and I decided that, for our own sakes, we needed to let him soothe himself to sleep at night. No more running to his side when he squealed, no more rocking him when he fussed, and definitely no more feeding him when he howled at 3 a.m. According to Dr. No-Nonsense, Coen is of an age where he should be able to get through the night without needing extra food or attention. Interesting, since WE were convinced he was just a whole lot hungrier than a normal baby. Pfft, amateurs. As if hearing that wasn’t heartbreak enough, she proceeded to inject him with two different vaccinations – one in each chubby leg. Having a child really opens your heart to those hidden strings you never really knew existed. And, my oh my, mine have gotten a workout today. Listening to him cry, sitting 20 feet away and doing nothing about it, my legs were shaking, my eyes were welling up, and my pits were sweating (What? I’m still hormonal! Give me a break.). This kind of torture should be used on female prisoners of war. I guarantee they’d talk! Eventually, he cried himself to sleep, just like the Doc said he would. I’m not looking forward to midnight…and 2 a.m…and 4 a.m….Being a mom is hard. Emotionally, very, very hard.
Tonight will be a true test of my ability to handle this new life. I’ll try my best and do what I can do, but I will NOT beat myself up if I just can’t do it. They can’t expect me to shut down all of my maternal instincts, especially when they adjoin my crabby, middle-of-the-night instincts, just like that. If he cries bloody murder in the middle of the night, I might cave. And, I might be tired in the morning. What’s another day, right?
And, tomorrow morning, I will most likely awaken to coos, cries, and kicking just like every other morning. It will most likely be at an hour that I can barely stand to type. And I will most likely cover my head with a pillow for 30 seconds, take a deep breath, and eventually stumble down the hallway to confront the cause of it all. But, let me tell you, when I get there, that pint-sized “reminder” will flash his heart-melting smile and I will buck up and face another sleep-deprived day with my goobering, beautiful little man who I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, he has decided to start crying again and I need to go lock myself in the basement closet. Yes, I am one whipped mama.