Having Brayden didn't cramp my style (WHAT style, you ask? Oh--I had STYLE!) at all. I went everywhere and did everything I had done BEFORE having a baby (I guess I was P-R-E-T-T-Y boring THEN!), only now I had to leave occasionally because of leaky breast milk. Okay--so THAT was a style-cramper, but I still went to the social events! I didn't let a few wet shirts keep me out of the loop! Some would be embarrassed to show their faces again after leaving a house with two enormous wet circles running down the fronts of their shirts, but not THIS trooper. Oh no--I had NOOOOOO problem going back. And investing in an extra few sets of nursing pads.
True, part of the reason was because my friends were so welcoming and accepting of the whole...baby thing. They all had gone through it before and even my friend Tom Jones (Yes--his name IS Tom Jones and I do believe his wife had him serenade us once after one (EIGHT) too many cocktails...NOT the same.), who prides himself on mocking me scoffed at the fact that I would be embarrassed about leaky breasts (yes--I said BREASTS. You'll be fine.). "What's the big deal? You have a BABY. That's what HAPPENS." Tom ROCKS. Just don't tell him I said so.
I think that having the "job" of loving and spending time with my baby full time was so amazing to me. For the first time since I was sixteen, I had NOTHING ELSE to do. Why WOULDN"T I love everything about this new job? I get to stay in my comfy clothes and all I have to do is PLAY--ALL DAY. It was perfect. Only I didn't KNOW it was perfect ALL the time.
I remember thinking it was SO HARD to get up every few hours to FEED him. When other mothers would talk about getting up at night, I would FULLY commiserate, not realizing that THEIR babies would get up and STAY up. Half the time I would get Brayden and fall asleep while feeding him (even though ALL of the parenting magazines said that this was a BIG no-no. I didn't see any of THEM offering to get up to feed for me...just sayin'...). It was the same with Ryan (I'll tell her story another day). I didn't realize that I did NOT understand what all of those other parents were going through until I was pregnant with Addison. My aunt said to me, "You'd better watch it--one of these days you are going to get a REAL baby!" Luckily, Addison was great, too! Of course, they are all making me pay NOW, but I think I've covered that sufficiently.
I think that EVERY mother (and even some fathers) get some version of the baby blues (much to the dismay of Tom Cruise. Jerk.). you have your run of the mill "I am going to drive off of a bridge and everyone will read about it in People Magazine" kind, Your "What is this creature that just came out of me--there is NO WAY I am going near it!" kind and your "I just love this baby and my life so why am I feeling so down?" kind. I fell into category three. I think that my version may not have been solely from having the baby, it may have had a lot to do with the fact that for the first time in over ten years I had nowhere to be. I had a similar feeling the first time I only had ONE job and the first summer when I didn't work AT ALL. I had been used to working three and four jobs and suddenly I had DOWN time. I had heard of this concept before, but never TRULY believed that it existed. It was WONDERFUL! Only, with down time comes time to think and thinking is NEVER good--especially when you aren't good at it.
I suddenly had the time to obsess over EVERYTHING. Was I doing everything right? Would my baby feel loved? Would it REALLY harm him terribly if I allow him to drink milk with hormones (I know, right?!)? I was (and still am to some degree) ridiculous. I swore I would NEVER speak to my sweet baby boy in a harsh tone (refer to http://anothertiredmommy.blogspot.com/2011/11/ive-decided-that-instead-of-making-to.html for the ENTIRE list of "never"s--or at least the ones I thought of THAT day) and I would ALWAYS make sure that he felt heard. What's that saying? We make plans and God laughs? Well God must be roaring up there over me!
I remember talking to veteran parents (my aunt, my mom, the lady at the grocery store...) and in retrospect I can see them biting their tongues and smirking at all of my "knowledge" as a first time parent (because I of course felt it necessary to SHARE all of my theories. OY!). I can remember going to play groups or hanging out with friends who had older children and thinking things like, "Maybe if she wouldn't yell so much, they would listen..." "Should I TELL her that consistency is key when disciplining children?" and (my favorite) "I wonder if she knows that you shouldn't yell out empty threats--especially when it deals with spanking. I'm not one of those "against spanking" people. I taught middle school. AND high school. I have MET children who needed to be spanked when they were younger and I have SEEN what happens to them when they are not. Of course, spanking should DEFINITELY be reserved for those horrible times when the child runs out into traffic or the child threatens to KILL you or something--this way it MEANS something...I wonder if she knows all of this?" All of this while my baby slept soundly (or looked around curiously) in his little car seat. Just a sidebar--my babies LIVED in their car seats. Half the time I would go to people's houses and leave the child by the front door like a bag of groceries. They RARELY complained, and I figured, if they aren't complaining, why bother them? I'm CERTAIN people were appalled at my behavior. I also let everyone take the baby so that I could visit. I learned early on that everyone WANTED to hold the baby and since I spent ALL OF MY TIME with my babies, why WOULDN'T I pass them on at parties? of course, from THEIR perspective I was the mother who either left her child in the foyer to be forgotten all night or I was giving my babies away all the time. Nice parenting. It's a good thing I knew so much.
It did concern me at one point--we were at a friend's house and I had to run home for something for their party. As I approached their house, I saw a group of people in their back yard. One woman was holding a baby that looked EXACTLY like mine. I felt a little like I did when an ex-boyfriend cheated on me and I saw him at a party with another girl. Only this was worse. I'm not sure why--obviously if this woman is at the party, SOMEONE knows her, right? Still, it felt weird that a stranger was bouncing my baby around, but why wouldn't she? I had left the baby (almost too) willingly, so it would stand to reason that SOMEONE would take over parenting duties. Why SHOULDN'T it be someone I've never met? I remember wanting desperately to yank the baby out of her arms, but then reminded myself that I was not a psycho. INSTEAD, I introduced myself to this extremely nice woman (who now has three babies of her own I hear through the grapevine. Sucker!) and thanked her for taking such good care of my baby. We continued to chat until someone else begged to have the baby leaving me wondering if there was something SERIOUSLY wrong with me. I think we ALL know the answer to THAT.
Lucky for me, I had Marcia. Marcia is the greatest no-nonsense, low-maintenance, least dramatic,would-do-anything-for-anybody friend I could have had--especially during my RIDICULOUS days as a new parent. Marcia did things like feed my daughter blue icing when she was six months old, gave EVERY child of mine loud instruments to bang on or whistle through and MADE SURE we let them be heard and visited and read to my children on a regular basis. She (and her Mike) were the grandparents that were unable to visit regularly and were the voices of reason in a time of insanity. Marcia made sure I knew that having children meant having a messy house. That loving and having fun with my babes was more precious than having a clean floor or an organized pantry.
Sorry--I couldn't help myself. I think of all of my college (and grad school) friends and former roommates and those people who met me AFTER my children were ALL toddling and walking and DESTROYING EVERYTHING and I read this through THEIR eyes and I laugh. I think of the people who have NEVER come to my house and NOT left with some sort of food on their feet. I think of those people who met me when I no longer HAD a pantry and I laugh. These people probably cannot even IMAGINE me with a clean house! *sigh* I actually LIKED my clean house...
Sorry! Where was I? Oh--MarciandMike. At Christmas time, Marcia would show up and tell us to go Christmas shopping. She wouldn't take no for an answer and I KNEW how blessed I was to have her. When times were tight (which unfortunately lasted...well, it is STILL lasting!), she would come over and tell us to go on a date. Mike would get down on the floor and play with my kids--cars, Legos, coloring--whatever my children requested, the two of them would do. Marcia would remind me of how important my marriage was--even if it wasn't on MY priority list--or my husband's--and that I wasn't doing ANYONE any good if I forgot that which is why she INSISTED that we go on dates. This woman is full of so much wisdom and kindness--something we ALL could use in our lives and I often think about new mothers: "Wow--SHE could really use a Marcia!" Hell, I could really use a Marcia now! Lucky for Marcia, we moved away so she can focus all of her wisdom and kindness on her new baby grandtwins (I know--I'm coining that, too...). It's a good thing HER daughter isn't like a lot of new mothers--she is prepared for the blue-frosting incidents and welcomes them! Hopefully she will listen to and hear the words that her mother says--then she won't have to write a fifteen page blog about how crazy she was as a new parent in seven years!
My Brayden will be EIGHT on Saturday. EIGHT. It was HIS second birthday party that held the infamous blue frosting incident of '06. I remember the craziness of that Thomas party (Crazy because I always invite WAAAYYY too many people--but I always know REALLY nice and fun people and I want them to be a part of things! Don't worry--Kate was there to help! See http://anothertiredmommy.blogspot.com/2011/12/fight-for-your-right-tothrow-my-party.html), I remember his HUGE brown eyes and his obvious excitement with everything around him. He was the friendliest most easy-going two-year-old EVER, my sweet Brayden and that boy is still in there. He's just always been advanced, so recently he is acting like a teenager--nothing we can't work through as a family. With maybe a little therapy. And some