People who know me well understand that I’ve been a mama for more than 11 weeks. Before Hunter came along, I poured all my nurturing energy into my almost 5-year-old golden retriever, Lexi (a.k.a. Sexy Lexi because she’s a pretty girl and knows it). I surprised myself with how nurturing I could be as a caregiver because I’m typically more like a guy when it comes to my communication style. I think and talk with my head, not my heart.
During Lexi’s first week home at our apartment, I found myself saying “mama knows” in a sing-song voice. I didn’t think anything of it until my mom heard me use the phrase and reminded me that she used to say that to me all the time when I was little. The expression must have been completely subconscious because I didn’t remember that at all. Our long-term memory is remarkable. We absorb information when we’re young, store it in a place that we don’t know exists, and then bring it back out when it’s time to use the information again. I guess that’s how we become our parents, for better or worse.
Lexi is not thrilled that I now use her nurturing phrases on Hunter, and her withdrawn face makes it apparent that she understands the change is permanent. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I even called Hunter by the dog’s name a few times because I’m so used to saying Lexi’s name in my mom voice. When I was pregnant, multiple people tried to convince me that my dog would become much less important once the baby arrives. “Trust me,” they explained, “I was the same way with my dog, and now she isn’t even allowed in the bedroom.” I have to admit that I have been neglecting Lexi and view her more as a pet than a daughter now. There’s something about having a child that put’s the dog’s role in perspective, and I find myself having a finite amount of nurturing energy to give. I hope Lexi will forgive me someday for betraying her, but she can’t complain about still sleeping in our bed. Despite our new relationship boundaries, mama knows that Sexy Lexi needs her beauty rest in a proper bed.
Lexi as a spoiled only child
Lexi as a proud but sacrificing big sister
I originally intended to start this blog at the beginning of my 3-month maternity leave and use it as a way to productively stay busy. I was freaking clueless! My beautiful baby boy, Hunter, is coming up on 11 weeks this Thursday. To put a task off that long is unheard of for me. My Marriage and Family Counseling instructor once told our class a story about a family whose home was being swept away in a flood. While looking out the window, the little boy saw a hat floating back and forth across the lawn; confused, he asked his mom how a hat could possibly be moving in straight lines. She laughed and explained, “Honey, that’s just your father. Today is mowing day, and you know how he likes to stick to his schedule.”
That would have been me. I would have mowed that lawn come hell or high water, literally. Not anymore. After a good amount of reflection while staring at the nursery walls during countless feedings, I’ve identified “personal Armageddon” as the best term to describe what has happened to me. Having a baby is not the end of the world, but it ended my world as I knew it. I have handed my plan over to the tiny hands of a 14-pounder. Hunter is the captain now.
During the first few weeks, a dark time when I was overwhelmed and even a little angry about this reality, I felt like I was in hell with only fleeting glimpses of heaven. A mid-feeding milk grin would briefly remind me why it was worth waking up every 2 hours to breastfeed someone who takes so much but gives so little.
Thankfully, Hunter is giving a lot more these days. He expresses his gratitude with smiles, coos, and even laughter. Now that I am sleeping through the night and drinking caffeine again (I couldn’t take being exhausted until my afternoon nap anymore, and Hunter sleeps 8-9 hours at night despite ingesting a 12-ounce cup of coffee each day.), my perspective has become much clearer and more positive. I see now that the baby’s demands weren’t the only thing keeping me from starting the blog. My perfectionism was also getting in the way. Every time the task crossed my mind, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t have time that day to pick the perfect background theme and draft a compelling introductory post.
Well, here I am, prepared to begin blogging (imperfectly) at whatever pace I can manage. I promise to avoid rose-colored stories and photos of Hunter’s every move. I’ll leave that to Facebook where there’s an unspoken agreement to fake the perfect life. In keeping with my blunt nature and dry sense of humor, I plan to share the joyful and awful experiences. Because let’s be honest – although no one ever likes to admit this out loud – raising a baby, especially breastfeeding, is the most rewarding but difficult job I’ve ever had so far.