Yes, I said it, I’m jealous of other moms. I could try to soften the sentiment a bit by using the term envious. Envious is a nice euphemism for jealous, but I’m going to be completely honest here and admit to being flat-out jealous. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m head over heels crazy about my baby as I’m sure you can tell from my previous blog posts. However, there are many times that I am speaking to another mom and I can’t help but compare my situation to hers. For example, I went to a wedding the other night and I met a mother who has a 3 month old baby. She was telling me how her baby has slept 11 hours straight for weeks now and he hardly ever fusses. My baby just started to sleep the night 3 nights ago and the fussing continues as he approaches his 9 month birthday. This mom was full of energy and dancing up a storm! I was determined to stay out later than her. I figured that given her baby’s age, she would leave the wedding well before midnight, but that was not the case. After looking at my watch every 15 minutes from 10:30pm on, and my husband shooting me looks because I was yawning with a wide open mouth every 5-7 minutes, I decided to give up and make my exit at 11:15pm.
The sleep schedules and temperaments of other babies doesn’t ignite the pangs of jealousy as much as the coping skills of other mothers. When I see a new mom looking alert, refreshed, hair done, wearing a bit of mascara and lip gloss, I am reminded of how difficult it was for me to even leave the house up until baby was about 4 months old. Granted, I had a rough start, but most moms have a rough start because having a newborn is overwhelming. I think I surprised myself at how poorly I coped in the beginning. For the past 10 years I have been teaching women coping skills so why was I unable to take on the lessons I knew like the back of my hand? I suppose my motivation to use my skills went out the window with my low mood and exhaustion. Now this isn’t to say that I’m not happy for other moms who cope well. I think feeling jealous of someone and being happy for them can co-exist. Perhaps I need to remind myself that I did the best that I was capable of at the time. I’m fortunate that I’m in a different place today and that I can truly enjoy motherhood.
Ugh, I hate to admit it but I’ve become my own worst nightmare of a mother! Before I was even interested in babies, I had some serious pet-peeves when it came to mothers. My husband teases me about all of the motherisms that I’ve taken on. Here they are:
Facebook: I used to find it really annoying when people loaded their Facebook page with the day-to-day activities of their child. Now I’m THAT mother who posts “baby got his first tooth (smiley face)” or “so tired, baby needs to sleep!”. I also always said that I wouldn’t post pictures of my baby….well you would think that baby was a GQ model with all his layouts on my page! Do my “friends” really need to see him in every outfit that he owns?
Smiling at everyone on the street: Before I was pregnant I found it annoying when a mom with her baby would smile at me as she walked by with her little one. I always felt like she assumed I was taken with how adorable her child was. It was almost as if she was thinking “I know right? she’s so adorable!”. To be very honest, I was more likely to gush over puppies than babies (I really wasn’t into babies). Anyway, now I’m THAT mother who walks down the street with baby attached to me in his baby bjorn carrier, smiling from ear to ear when I make eye contact with anyone I pass. I completely just assume that they are taken with my child….eesh, how obnoxious. I didn’t even realize I was doing this until my husband pointed it out. On a serious note, I try to remember that there are women walking down the street who are having difficulty getting pregnant, or who have lost their baby. I try to restrain myself from beaming until the other person initiates the smile.
Everything baby: My closest friend stopped shopping for herself once she had a child. I remember having a heart-to-heart with her, encouraging her to buy a new outfit or accessories. It bothered me quite a bit that she put everyone before her. Now when my husband encourages me to go shopping on my own for a break, I always come home with bags full of baby items. I don’t go into my favorite clothing stores anymore and shopping for myself has fallen to the bottom of my priority list. Gotta work on that self-care! Also, I have gone from Perez Hilton blogs to Mommy blogs! Not that there is anything wrong with that (calm down mommy bloggers!), it’s just that I really used to enjoy catching up on some trashy pop culture gossip. Nowadays I find out way after the fact who is splitting with who in Hollywood and who is pregnant (I just found out that Drew Barrymore had a baby! I didn’t even know she was pregnant!!!).
Date night: My husband and I always said that we wouldn’t be THAT couple who go on date nights and just talk about the baby…….well, we just talk about the baby….sigh….gotta work on that.
Are you THAT mother? What did you always say you wouldn’t do and now you do it?
When my baby was born I would say to my friends “How on earth do people have more than 1 child??”. I couldn’t imagine going through the newborn stage all over again. Granted I had a very rough start with my little guy, so I felt especially certain that there was no way I would put myself through that again. The response my friends gave me was “you kinda forget what it was like and then you want another”. I was like YOU FORGET? How do you forget the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the 3 months of having to sterilize everything and be completely neurotic about their fragile health. How do you forget about the colic, the crying, the screaming, the shushing, the rocking……How do you forget about the emotional breakdowns? (mine, not baby’s!). So here I am 8 months later and I can’t believe that there is this little burning flame in the pit of my stomach that is yearning for another. I’m laughing as I write this and I’m sure my parents have fallen off the couch if they’re reading this, but the thought has crossed my mind.
If you read my story you know that I wasn’t ever sure that I even wanted a child to begin with. When we decided to have a baby, we had it in our minds that we would be a family of 3. In fact, up until a couple of weeks ago I would adamantly tell people that we were done. So where is this feeling coming from? Possibly because I see my baby starting to interact with other kids and it makes me wonder if he would enjoy having a sibling. There’s another part of me that has discovered my new role in life and being a mother is actually my favorite role out of all of them.
So what gets in the way? I wonder how it’s possible to love another child as much as I love this one. I also wonder if I’ll be able to attend to my boy as much as I would like to with a newborn. I do worry about postpartum depression and anxiety and not to mention that I’ll be 38 soon…..so there is a lot to think about and a small window of time. My gut tells me that we will continue to be a family of 3….but it’s interesting to explore this little flame that lit up inside me.
Thanks for reading…..
Addendum: my father texted me “I’ve fallen off the couch and I can’t get up!” In a panic I called to see what was going on….only to find out that he had read this post! lol
All of a sudden I’m a social butterfly! During my rough start I had no interest in seeing anyone. I didn’t even want my closest friends to stop by. Now, I can’t get enough of meeting new moms in my neighbourhood. What you don’t know about me is that I am the kind of person who has always had a handful of very close friends as opposed to a slew of acquaintances. I have about 100 Facebook “friends” whereas some people I know have 400-500! I suppose I’m a bit shy and have always felt uncomfortable in large crowds with lots of small-talk. Close, intimate relationships suit me better. Having said all that, what am I doing seeking out new friends? Maternity leave can be quite isolating and after a while you start to crave adult conversation as opposed to the usual adult-baby conversation that goes a little like this: Me: “Who’s a sweet little baby boy?” Baby: “boo” Me: “that’s right, you are” Baby: “ah-boo” Me: “really? what else happened?” Baby: “ma-ba” Me: “did you say ma ma? did you say ma ma”? Baby: “boo”…….okay, I’m sure you get the idea!
So, I joined a bunch of programs in my area and met a few mothers. One mother in particular I really wanted to be friends with. So now I’m taken back to high school where there’s that girl who seems really nice and cool and I would really like to hang out with her and maybe even become bff’s with her…..well, maybe not quite so dramatic, but nevertheless I wanted to schedule a play-date. So here’s how it compares to dating. My thoughts start out with “I think we’re hitting it off, and it would be nice to hang out outside of music class. I wonder if she feels the same way? Should I make the first move and ask her…out? What if she rejects me? Luckily for me she asked me “out” first. Now I won’t say that I got butterflies, but it felt pretty good to know that she wanted to hang out too. Here are my thoughts before the play-date “Should I put on a bit of make-up so I don’t look like a total slob? What are we going to talk about? How long should we hang out for?” The play-date consisted of a nice walk around our neighbourhood. When we said goodbye I wondered “should I suggest we meet again, or should I leave it in her court? I wonder if she’s put off by all of my baby’s fussing? I wonder if she wants to hang out again?”
Alternatively, what do you do if someone you don’t feel you connect with asks for a play-date? How do you say no? This happened to me recently. The mom talked to me throughout the music class, which I found a bit distracting. She then asked for my number and texted me twice within the half-hour after we saw each other. Turns out she lives a few houses down, so I think I will go on one play-date to see how it goes. Maybe a short walk around the block or a trip to Starbucks. If it isn’t enjoyable I’ll have to think about how to deal with the situation.
I think having a baby has actually helped to improve my social skills. It will be interesting to see if these new friendships last once I return back to work in February. How has your experience with play-dates been? Am I the only one who has these internal dialogues?
Before I got pregnant I told my husband that I was not going to be that mom who cuts her hair off and stops wearing makeup just because she has a kid. I told him that we would not be that couple who turns their house into an indoor playground, but rather we would maintain our chic, modern-minimalistic style of decor.
Okay, so let me paint a picture for you 8 months post-delivery of our child:
In a pony-tail 24 hours per day (even throughout the night in case I need to pick baby up)
Grey until I finally dyed it one month ago.
Practically bald since all my luscious locks fell out. To be honest, having thick hair for the first time in my life was the highlight of my pregnancy and now it’s back to reality!
Dry and brittle since I haven’t bothered to deep condition it in months.
I never used to leave the house without a bit of mascara on. Now, I have to remind myself to put concealer on under my eyes before going on a date night with my husband. This is actually my self-care work in progress. I feel good about myself when I make an effort to put a little bit of makeup on. For a while I didn’t think it was important, I even thought it was selfish, but now I see that “a happy mom equals a happy baby”. If I take care of myself, my child will pick up on my positive energy, I truly believe that.
Oh forget it! Our house is a ridiculous playground. It looks like Barney, Dora and Thomas all threw up in here. Toys are scattered around everywhere, pack n plays, jumperoos, diapers etc etc. I have stopped apologizing for the house’s condition when people come over to visit. It is what it is. I love bringing my baby downstairs every morning and having everything he wants and needs at our fingertips…..so the house will remain in this condition for a while.
Here’s a loaded question for you: how has your life changed since having baby?
It is day 5 of my cold and I am holding my breath that baby doesn’t get it. He had his first cold when he was 6 months old and it was pretty bad. I was up holding him for most of the night because he was so congested. Poor thing had a horrible runny nose and cough. I was writing on a parent forum asking if anyone had been lucky enough to not pass their cold onto their baby and the majority of responses were “if you’re breastfeeding, it’s unlikely baby will contract the cold because of the antibodies….etc etc”. Then the old familiar guilt-ache that starts in my stomach and moves up towards my throat presented itself. It said “it’s too bad your baby doesn’t get to benefit from your magical breast milk”.
Before I got pregnant I didn’t think I would be interested in breastfeeding at all. I actually thought it seemed unnatural if you can believe it. So strange for my child to suckle on my boob! I thought it was even stranger when women would gush about how much they loved the act. Well, I won’t say that I loved it, but I did grow to appreciate it on many levels. I liked how I felt bonded to baby during this time together, I liked how convenient and inexpensive it was (the price of formula is outrageous) and most of all I liked the health benefits it offered baby. Unfortunately, due to what I believe was stress and lack of sleep, my supply began to diminish. Baby started to reject me probably because I wasn’t giving him enough or it wasn’t coming quickly enough for him. I tried medication, teas and pumping, but nothing seemed to help. Once baby started losing a bit of weight I knew it was time to switch to formula. This happened when he was about 4 months and it really triggered the fear and sadness from when he was starving in his first week. All my emotions flooded back and I knew that I needed to be able to measure how much he took in and see his weight only go up on the scale.
Baby is now 8 months and in addition to formula he is eating solids. I am so much more at ease with the situation and can really appreciate how happy and healthy he is as a formula fed baby. The whole cold situation just brought back some lingering feelings. I love how I presented this blog as an opportunity to offer support and advice to those in need and meantime here I am using it as my own personal therapy session! I suppose you don’t really know what direction a project like this will take until you dive in.
I signed up for 3 baby programs. These are not inexpensive programs, in fact, the cost of some of these classes are a bit outrageous. $275 (Canadian) for 11 weeks of a 30 minute sing a long? The best part is that baby has his back to the circle most of the time and is smiling at the radiator. Poor thing is in major teething mode right now so he is desperate to shove the mini maracas all the way in his mouth….and don’t get those little wrist bells near him, there will be a sea of drool pouring out by the end of the class.
My mother told me that in her day these classes weren’t offered. Babies were entertained by hanging out with their parents / caregivers or by sitting in front of the t.v with a few rattles within reach. It made me wonder how much of a business these classes really are. I mean, I’m sure they are beneficial for babies on many levels, but why are parents (especially ones like me) sucked in to the hype…..or is it the guilt-provoking “if you want your child to excel in his gross motor skill development, sign him up for gymboree” or “music classes will ensure intellectual advancement and help your child ace his exams”….okay, these aren’t direct quotes, but they are how I interpret the very subtle messages in the descriptors. So I sign baby up and hope that more than anything, he has fun. I love the squeals of delight that he occasionally expresses. You have to work very hard to get a laugh out of my baby, so when I hear one, my heart melts.
One thing I continue to remind myself is that these programs are not the best I can offer baby. It’s not the classes, the expensive toys, the baby Einstein videos or the exersaucers that are the most important for baby…..the best thing I can offer my baby is me. Every morning I sit on the floor with baby on my knees facing me. I hold his hands and talk to him. I make faces with him and smile with him. These are the moments that are most beneficial for baby’s well-being and development. So if you aren’t in the position to sign up for classes, keep this in mind. You are baby’s best playmate.
Thanks for reading. Please check out previous posts….