I suck at gentle parenting. Attachment Parenting. Compassionate parenting, Positive Discipline, Empathetic Guidance, RIE. Whatever you want to call it – I suck at it. It does not come naturally for me and I spend more time beating myself up about how I’m not the parent I thought I would be than I do actually just embracing the parent that I am.
I’ve written before about the cliques that accompany joining the parenting club. The cafeteria we all eat lunch in. But to be honest, I have had a hard time blogging over the last year. Not because I don’t have things to write about – I have plenty to write about. It just all seems to stem from a place of uncertainty and confusion. I keep reflecting on the year I’ve had. I keep trying to process all the whirlwind of life I’ve encountered. But it just ends up looking like a plate of spaghetti. It’s all intertwined, I can’t pull apart the pieces and I don’t know where one ends and the other begins.
I’m sure there’s some parents out there that feel very self assured in their parenting style. I envy you. It’s just not where I’m at. I thought I would be a certain type of mom. I’m not. So I don’t know where to go from there. For whatever dumb reason, I can’t let it go.
I have asked myself a million times how I could have handled postpartum better. I should have hired more help, I should have cleaned less, should have worried less, should have traveled less. I keep thinking of some magical words I can spare to other women who might be in the same boat. I am quick to remind myself that very few, if any, words would have truly helped me cope with the hormonal mess I was. Sure more help would have been nice. I could have spent more time with self-care. But it almost feels like a disservice to the struggles I endured to say I could have merely “worried less”.
As I approach little Amata’s first birthday, I can say I’m abundantly joyful to be a year away from last winter.
I remember at my 6 week checkup, my midwife admitted that she wasn’t really a “baby person”. As she was checking my blood pressure, writing down some notes, she casually asserted, “I’m all about birth obviously. But the newborn stage was never for me.”
I’m pretty sure she meant those words. But even if she didn’t, I was so relieved to hear them.
Ironically, my daughter’s birth was beautiful, a piece of cake (as far as births go anyhow). I’m the textbook definition of the type of birth so many women yearn for. You always hear how an uninterrupted first hour after after birth, no medications, lots of skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, low interventions are supposed to help give rise to this magical bond. I know plenty of Ceserean mamas that bonded the second their baby was handed to them. I caught my own kid. And my first thought was, “Gosh I’m so exhausted.” So there you have it – life isn’t so black and white. What followed were some pretty dark months. I felt like a home birth failure. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. I really believe that my journey of processing those months will take a lifetime. With each passing season, I gain new perspective on them.
We think it’s so unforgiving, this Motherhood thing. We think if we didn’t have the perfect birth or the perfect postpartum or the perfect breastfeeding experience or the perfect sleep regimen that we are screwed. But actually, I think motherhood is one of the most forgiving roles we will ever have. It’s sloppy and euphoric and taxing. But we tirelessly try. And it’s the trying that matters. The trying that forgives.
My mother recently compared motherhood to driving. She said you can teach someone to drive, how and when to shift gears, and the rules of the roadway but driving is primarily a feeling. You feel when to shift. You have a certain consciousness for the other drivers on the road – how fast they are going, an awareness for your space and motion.
So this past year, I’ve had a crash course on driving. It has been so formative and intense and sudden. My joys are plentiful, but so are my struggles.
That seems to be all I feel called to write about these days. So bear with me.