Saturday, September 29, 2012

why my child-less self just didn't get it

I, like most people, am an inherently selfish being.  I think about myself a lot all the stinking time.  What is inconveniencing me at the moment, what I want, what I need, etc etc.  I often worried as a younger me that I would be a crappy mom because I didn't really want to give up my selfishness, my freedom, my independence.  I suppose I thought that those things were the icing on the cake of life.

I am happy to say that my younger self was very wrong.

In the last seven months (well I suppose the last 18- I can't forget my pregnancy) I have learned that life is infinitely more beautiful when you are finally able to step outside of yourself and think more about the happiness of another than your own.  Now that is certainly not to say that it's easy, because it's not.  I'm not going to lie and pretend that every moment is a picnic, but really- it is amazing.

I was just talking to my oldest friend (who got pregnant and had her baby a month before me.  Fun, right?) and she was telling me how frustrating it was to hang out with some of her closest friends from high school because they just don't seem to get it.  They complain about the inconveniences in their lives- the late night study sessions, job frustrations, etc... but when she would join in and talk about how her son won't sleep well and how tired she is, they all basically said "Well this is what you signed up for!"  She felt like they just didn't get how hard, but how wonderful being a mom is.  They seemed to think that it should be "easy" if you just do things a certain way, and that she shouldn't need an outlet to vent as much as they do.  They had lots of advice for her though.

Your baby would be sleeping through the night if you'd let him cry it out at two months old.

Your baby would sleep through the night if you'd stop nursing him.

On and on and on.

Childless people always have all the answers.  I know I did.  Believe me, I really thought I did, so this is not a Bash-Childless-friends post.

Really what it boils down to is that I was all judgy-judgy before Eisley came along too.  That screaming baby in the store- bad parenting.  The mom who lets her young children watch tv- bad parenting.  The kids who still have food smeared all over their little mouths and faces- bad parenting.

What I realize now is that it's super easy to judge other people when you're able to sleep in every day, pee by yourself whenever you want, take showers every day, and hit up Target whenever the mood strikes.  See, you've got your life all figured out, oh single one.  You have no one to answer to but yourself, and so there isn't a whole lot about daily life and it's simple little tasks that seems overwhelming at this point.  At least, I'd hope you don't have a hard time finding a spare moment to pee by yourself if you're single... but that's another issue for another day.  The point is, you think "life is easy."

When a little person of your very own comes into your life, nothing comes as easily as it used to.  It's a big, huge, sometimes overwhelming adjustment.  You are willingly giving up your autonomy and bending constantly to the whims and needs of a tiny little person who can't tell you what they need, can't sleep through the night, can't wipe their own behinds, and can't even hold their own head up at first.

Whoa there, responsibility.

So maybe sometimes we mommas may complain about sleep deprivation, blow-outs, and saggy-baggy post-baby bodies- we are only human after all.  But ultimately, we wouldn't give it up or trade it for anything.  So when you (all my childless friends and readers out there) hear one of us talk about the less than perfectly lovely parts of motherhood, what I really want you to know is that even those little things  we look back on fondly when they are gone.

Nursing a newborn quietly to sleep in the middle of the night while your husband sleeps next to you.  It's a quite, exhausting, beautiful time that lasts only a short little while.  I know I am not the only mom who misses those sweet moments when they've passed.

Fighting the urge to nap yourself because you just can't stop smelling your sweet baby's hair as they sleep on your chest.

That horrifyingly hilarious moment when your baby poops explosively all over you.  Yes, you will look back on that as a funny memory, not a horrifying one.  It seems crazy, but it's true.

I look back on these moments and I see a couple of things.  I see my daughter growing, and I remember our bonding times.  I also see myself growing.  Growing as a mom, a woman, a wife, and a better human being.  You see, I realize now that life is just not quite so beautiful when it's all about yourself.  It's too easy to become bitter, angry, and disenchanted with life.  It's too easy to think that you have somehow got it all figured out.

Having Eisley has helped me realize that I don't have it all figured out, and that I really never will.  I also look at other moms now and smile as their child throws a tantrum in the grocery store.  Maybe their baby is sick, just had their vaccinations, or is a little on the gassy side.  Maybe that mom just desperately needs some food to feed herself and her babe, so there just isn't a way that she can walk out of the store grocery-less.

It has been a constant and ever-evolving death to self.  I have to put Eisleys's needs largely over my own.  Sometimes, in a moment of weakness I complain about the sleepless nights, fussy days, and lack of alone time.  Sometimes I grumble about all of it.  The thing is, once the words have left my mouth, I realize how lucky I am, and how good I have it.  How blessed I am.

I certainly don't have all the answers and I have plenty of weak moments, but I love being a mom.  It's different than anything else in life.  It's messy, beautiful, hilarious, sometimes tragic, and heart-expanding.  So when one of your friends complains about some aspect of motherhood, take it with a grain of salt.  I guarantee that if push came to shove, they would choose it again over anything.

I know I would.

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