Y’all, I have to tell you that every time I think of the title of this post, it comes out “Flip: Switched” which I suppose I could have gone with, if only to show you that I have some dyslexic tendencies, not because it gives any indication of the nature of this post. I had to think VERY HARD before typing it out in the little title box.
Anyhoo. I should have guessed, knowing what I know about the internet, that a week after I write a post about how I’m gonna complain about things, DAMMIT, because new motherhood is hard, DAMMIT, and I can complain if I want to, DAMMIT (there. I saved you from going and reading my previous post), that things would up and change.
It’s not that now, all of a sudden, I LOVE motherhood, and now everything is peaches and roses, but somehow, without me really noticing, things have gotten… easier. It happened so gradually it wasn’t until today, really, that it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a total break down in a couple days, and that I felt like I was handling things somewhat calmly, and that LO AND BEHOLD, I was starting to enjoy Olivia’s waking hours, instead of counting minutes until nap time (although, let’s be honest. I still do that A LOT).
Part of it certainly has to do with her age- at 6 months she laughs and giggles, and I can pretty predictably get her to do both those things. ME! I can MAKE her laugh! If that’s not an ego booster, I don’t know what is. She’s figured out how to get from one place to another, via a strange push-up/flop-forward motion that somehow doesn’t involve bonking her head. She’s so damn proud of herself when she looks up at you from a different place than where you left her, it’s impossible not to join in the cheering. She can sit on her own in an ocean of toys and entertain herself for non-negligible amounts of time, which means I can go to the bathroom, and eat something (uhhh, as long as she doesn’t SEE me eating. If she does, she throws her entire body at whatever it is I’m eating, all IT’S MINE LADY GIVE IT TO ME RIGHT NOW I CAN TOO EAT A SANDWICH GIVE IT GIVE IT GIVE IT GIVE IT NOW).
She likes to eat food, and although I really like the idea of Baby Led Weaning, I’m afraid I’m a bit too nervous to go ALL OUT with it, so we’ve settled on a combination approach- some purees, some things in the mesh feeder, some things straight up (Pickles, y’all. What is up with babies and pickles?).
ASIDE: Seriously, you’d think, as a moderately intelligent person, it wouldn’t take much for me to realize that I don’t have to subscribe to ONE SINGLE parenting philosophy or style or method and ONLY that single philosophy or style or method, but, HAND TO GOD, that concept hit me like LIGHTENING. You mean I can MIX AND MATCH? I can do one thing one way, and another thing a different way? Y’all this was REVOLUTIONARY. I get to decide, and I can like bits of one way while also disliking other bits of it, and I DONT HAVE TO DO the bits I don’t like. Baby Led Weaning is a perfect example- some parts of it make me nervous, so I DON’T DO THEM. Some parts I really like, so I do those. Revolutionary, I’m TELLING YOU.
Back to eating- she likes everything we’ve put in front of her, with the exception of yogurt, but that was only that one time, so I’ll have to try again. She likes to hold her own spoon, and 90% of the time, the food ends up in her mouth. Sure, she has to suck a fair bit of it off her fingers, but that skill will come in SUPER HANDY when I introduce her to fried chicken. She has the BEST OMG-that-shit-is-SOUR face I’ve ever seen, and I know it’s mean, but I like to give her things just so I can see it. What? She’s the one who puts her hand out for more. Also, she thinks pureed peaches are sour, so you know. She’s a delicate flower.
And so while part of my new appreciation for motherhood has to do with her, it also has to do with me. On the one hand, I’ve just… LET GO of certain expectations. She’ll sleep through the night when she’s ready. OF COURSE, I will do everything in my power to make sleeping through the night possible, from making sure the room is dark enough and the bed is soft but not too soft and soothing her and keeping her on schedule and not over-tiring her and making sure she’s fed and dry and that her pacifier is JUST SO, but in the end, she’ll get there when she gets there. I don’t think me fretting and begging and wishing and hoping for it will make it happen any faster, so maybe just letting go of the idea that she should BE THERE, ALREADY will make it easier for ME to rest.
DO NOT GET ME WRONG: I am still deeply annoyed when I have to get out of bed for the trillionth time to soothe her. Three AM continues to be far from my finest hour, and I have to tag J in as often as not, and sometimes I end up on the couch with her, instead of putting her back in her crib like I’m “supposed” to. But, I don’t know… somehow it seems… manageable?
I don’t even know who I AM anymore.
On the other hand (the first hand is two paragraphs up), we’ve also become way more rigid. There’s a schedule, and a chart, and spaces for marking what happened and a place to enter the date and time, and the data collecting scientist in me is THRILLED. I know what to do and when to do it and how long it should probably take, and that takes so much of the guess-work out of the whole thing. It’s magnificent. It’s exactly what I needed to relax into this whole thing: MORE RIGIDITY. Is that ironic really, or Alanis ironic?
And one more thing, and I know it’s a strange thing to LIKE about motherhood, but now Olivia, in some ways, chooses me. Last night we stayed out past her bedtime, so that we could enjoy ALL SIX of the wines at the wine tasting we were at, and as she got more tired, it was ME she wanted. My lap to sit in and my hand to hold (and, sure, my boobs)- and I don’t know- that was probably the first time I’d realized that she knows who I am, and she LIKES ME. I know for SURE she likes J, since she vibrates with pleasure the moment she walks in the door, grinning her fool head off, but she sees my sorry face ALL DAMN DAY. So when she stretched her little arms out to me last night, something clicked.
I think I might be ok with this whole motherhood thing after all.