Sour and Sweet.

This will absolutely be my most controversial, divisive, provocative post to date.  I anticipate a mad rush of comments, far outstripping all my previous posts.  You know, like five. 

It’s not about food.  It’s about . . .

Mommyhood.

(aaaand *poof* I just lost half of you . . . )

Specifically, it is about all the things that Mommies are not supposed to say about Mommyhood.  Get ready, I’m about to get all kinds of honest up in here.

I am a Reluctant Mom.  My husband and I waited ten years (till the ancient part of our thirties, in fact) to have a kid – in part because we weren’t sure we wanted kids, and in part because even if we did want kids (okay, we did) we weren’t sure we were ready.  Specifically, I wasn’t sure I was ready to sacrifice my body by gaining all that weight, which I was sure would never ever come off.  (Shallow Revelation #1, stick around for more).  Like many women I’ve battled both my body and my body image all my life, and the idea of *on purpose* gaining what I assumed would be 50 pounds, and then forever after having that flat-butt, fleshy-middle-mom look (bring it on haters, you know it’s true!) – well, that pretty much terrified me.  And don’t even get me started on the idea of giving up alcohol (gasp, Shallow Revelation #2) for basically a year.  OHHH.EMMM.GEEE.

On top of that, I’ve never been great with kids.  I like kids, I really do!  But I’m something of an introvert, a bit socially awkward even with my adult friends, and that just don’t play with the wee ones.   I’m not good at silly voices, or funny faces, or even animal sounds.  I don’t really care for playing pretend, or dress up, or tag or hide and seek.  My voice is not made for sing alongs.   My friend’s kids would look at me as if to say “what am I supposed to do with this?” – similar to the reaction they might give a box of socks on Christmas morning.  And I didn’t blame them one bit!

I got over the mental blocks about weight gain and giving up alchohol.  I made it through pregnancy (ugh) and birth (holy crap, people!) and came out the other side.  And then I discovered that sleep deprivation bites harder than anything has ever bitten in my entire life, and breastfeeding was difficult, frustrating, uncomfortable, time consuming, and by the time I got to Month 3, made me feel so trapped that I literally wanted to remove my breasts from my body and leave them with the baby permanently.

And then I had to give up my chocolate business – in a way, my identity – and face a whole new reality:  Stay At Home Mommyhood.

In the 36 years of my life prior to deciding to have a baby, in all the time spent coloring in that outline of Who I Am, never, ever did I ponder sketching in some SAHM time.  Ever.  Until I had a baby.  And priced out full time childcare.  *choke*

So here I am in Portland, Oregon, the Capital City of All Things Green and P.C., a new, reluctant stay at home baby momma who grits her teeth through breastfeeding, gives her baby a pacifier and a bottle, doesn’t co-sleep or “attachment parent”, and ohmygawd uses disposable diapers.  If there were a mom’s group in town that I would fit into, we would probably have to meet in secrecy in the dead of night to discuss our horribly incorrect and destructive ways.  Perhaps our secret password would be “pampers”.  Or “binky”.  We would whisper about how we wished we worked in cubicles in office buildings during the day, idly reading magazines and drinking coffee on our breaks, taking a leisurely pee in the bathroom without a screaming child in the other room (or more likely, right there in the bathroom), and talking in normal grown up voices about intelligent and interesting topics.  Yes, those are the things I yearn for.  I long to be selfish, to do nothing but think of myself for entire blocks of time.  Or better yet, not think at all.

But hold on there – before y’all get those pitchforks and burning torchs out and aim them at me – let me point out the Hyde in my Jekyll.  It’s not all sour around here, there’s plenty of sweet as well.  The sweet is just this simple:  I love my baby. I can’t stop kissing her.  Her smile never fails to light up my world, even at three in the morning.  And while I may not be good at singing songs or playing games, I’m great at nurturing.  I’m more patient than I ever thought I could be.  I yearn for her happiness just enough more than I yearn for my own . . . and I recognize that the two are intertwined.  And the sweetest part of all is that I’m smart.  That is, I’m smart enough to have married a guy who is amazing at singing silly songs, and making animal noises, and playing pretend and hide and seek and tag.  I married the Baby Whisperer.  So I’ll give this Mommyhood thing the best I’ve got.  And I’ll know that even if my best is barely good enough . . . well, at least she’s got her Daddy.

One year ago on C&T: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Two years ago on C&T: Grecian Baked Shrimp

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14 thoughts on “Sour and Sweet.

  1. Mad rush of comments #1…OMG! I love it. You are a normal, independent, dedicated, strong woman & mother. I don’t know any mom who has not faced all of those fears, given up careers & a body to care for a sweet, little stinky being who smiles & melts your heart. Believe me…a playgroup exists for you and it’s all completely NORMAL! The time will pass so quickly. That sweet little thing will be in school, copping an attitude, calling you names – all while you drive them to where they want to be. Then, you’ll be right back out in the workforce wondering why you couldn’t just stay home all day. 🙂

    • Thanks Kim! I’m starting to think it is a conspiracy – only moms with kids over the age of 5 are willing to admit to these things!

  2. I also feel that I am not particularly well suited for motherhood. But unlike you, I have the luxury of a Full Time Job and Full Time Child Care (bills). And while I could not imagine being a SAHM, I am VERY SAD that one kid is sick at home without her mommy today. Although Daddy does quite well, I’d rather be snuggling her. And I would love to be able to take my kiddos to the park and swim class and playgroups and mommy’s clubs and all that stuff that I have absolutely no time to do on the weekends. It’s a trade off any way you look at it.

    • Shari, I totally agree! I’m sure if I was working I would have a whole different set of issues. And I’m sure that there are lots of moms out there that wish they could have the luxuries that we both have! Being a mom is a challenge – a rewarding challenge – no matter how you slice it.

  3. Steph, this is sweet, touching and oh so true. I felt like babies were the truest test of Kim and I’s teamwork, one that not just tests your ability to take care of babies and each other, but shows you where each person’s strength is and you use that to your advantage, like on a real team. I love kids and I’m pretty good with animal noises, but the play groups were somewhat torturous for me (aside from the cookies) until we had our birth group playgroup at our house and I tongue in cheek suggested we have some beer at 11 am. One of the moms said “are we having beer? Oh yeah!” and a lifelong friendship was born with that family. We still hang out with them a few times a year. After a while you get really good at picking families you like to hang out with where you like the kids AND the parents.

    • Ben, I’m totally with you on the teamwork thing. I’m glad Mike and I waited, for that reason. But unfortunately since we waited so long, we were 10 years older than everyone in our birth group. Have you hung out with any 30 year olds lately? It’s equally difficult to hang out with our long time friends, whose kids are all 5+ years older than Chloe – totally different schedules, priorities, and noise levels! I’m hoping we meet some like-minded, like-aged people soon . . . but I suppose that will require me to get out to some play groups. Sigh.

  4. Steph, I loved reading this and thought all of it is true and most of us aren’t able to express it as well or willing to express it! You have a wonderful gift for writing which needs to be celebrated. I think the post comparing to climbing Mt. Everest is very close and I too remember just wishing it was time to put the kids to bed so I could have a moment to myself but I was usually too tired to stay up and enjoy that moment. These feelings are so normal and I think you are doing a great job at this “Motherhood” thing. None of us can be all that we think we should be and as I get older, I’m more able to feel that it is okay. I’m so glad that Mike is such a help and you make a great team. I’m here to help with Chloe as I can have the fun and then give her back!

  5. You mentioned in a comment that only moms with kids over 5 will usually admit these things. I think it does usually take that long for a mom to admit those insecurities or doubts. That said, kudos to you. It seems your remarkably advanced for a mom at your stage. Are you sure you’re getting too little sleep?

    • Busted! Yes, in fact Chloe sleeps well and has since she was 2 months old. At night, that is! Naps are limited to 28 minutes or less. Two per day. Argghhh!! Thanks for all the great stuff you put out on Facebook and on awkwardlaugh.com, I love seeing your mom stories because you always give the straight up truth. Hilariously straight up, that is.

  6. Well said! Thanks for sharing, but I have been wondering how fleshy my middle and how flat my butt since I read this on Saturday…You may have lost some readers, I don’t know, but you gained at least one with this post. Looking forward to more.

    • Thanks Adrian! A friend of mine told me a while back that she can spot a mom with one glance at the midsection – and unfortunatley, that’s true 95% of the time! But I’m going to work very hard at embracing my “mom body” and wearing it as a badge of honor. Glad to have gained you as a reader, and thanks for commenting!

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