We hear this all the time. The last was yesterday at Target, by a cute but frazzled woman holding her baby. “I’m a first time mom,” she approached us. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
Whoa. I’m giving advice now? As someone with valid experience in motherhood? When did that happened?
“Sure!” I wondered if she could tell this was the highlight of my night. She went on to talk about her son teething, and asked what to do. I told her I used Orajel, and she said his doctor told her gels can make your baby stop breathing.
When did we become so paranoid?? I bet this started when some not-so-smart parent filled up his kid’s mouth with Orajel to make them stop crying and, of course, the kid died. Now we’re all prohibited to use any gel at all. Isn’t that how these things go?
So after the lady ranted a bit more about not being able to calm her baby, I gave her the best encouragement I could: “At least you know it’s the teeth – it has nothing to do with you.” She visibly relaxed at that. It’s interesting how what I’d just blurted out seemed to have been just what she needed to hear.
I don’t miss being a first time mom. Sure, I miss aspects of it (such as not having 2 toddlers “helping” me nurse), but I wouldn’t want to go back. Not to the constant fear that I might be missing something. That maybe I could be a terrible mother and not even know it.
This fear never completely disappears, of course. The other day I had a similar meltdown, and as many desperate stay-at-home moms do, called my husband at work “to share” :). He of course couldn’t do anything about it, so just kept saying “uh huh, uh huh.” This infuriated me. He had to go so I didn’t get a chance to express my disapproval, but the first thing he heard when he got home was “if I call you to talk about what a terrible job I’m doing, DON’T agree with me.”
That’s another thing I’ve learned during the course of our marriage: never bottle discomforts in, even if they seem silly. Overtime, what once was silly can become a snow ball. But there’s also right way to address things – NOT with nagging, and much less silent treatment. What I’ve noticed that works well for us is a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor. Like “I know I’m a mess honey, help me out here.”
He was wonderful as always, taking everyone upstairs so I could tearfully hibernate on the couch. Then after bedtime, we had a good talk about what we liked and didn’t like of our routine with the kids, and how we could make it better. This turned out to be the most productive meltdown I’d ever had in years.
So when I saw the worried frown on that woman at Target, I wanted to give her a hug and say, “don’t worry, sweetie – it gets worse, way worse :). But you survive.” I think every mom is like that newly-discovered super hero, just needing to be reminded of their super powers.