Friday, August 15, 2008


I have to warn you in advance that this isn't a happy, look-how-cute-my-kid-is post. It's more of a vent. I know you'll indulge me, because what choice do you have?

My friend Emily did a post a while back that she called "Dark Corners" (Em, I hope you don't care if I share), and ever since then, I keep thinking that although my house IS a mess, and although there are plenty of places (like my office and the trunk of my car, and, for heaven's sake, the inside of my shower) that I don't want people seeing because of the mess they've become, REALLY, the problem for me right now is actually bigger than that.

I waited until I was 30 years old to have a baby. I did it by choice. I did it for plenty of really good reasons. In the Utah/Mormon culture, that's really kind of late in life to get started (although thankfully it's less weird than it once was) I spent almost 10 years with a real job, a crazy busy life, and LOTS of hobbies. And I liked my life. I knew who I was pretty well before I got pregnant, for good or for bad.

One of those things that I was, was type A. I spent most of my pregnancy, between bouts of nausea, planning. I wanted everything to be perfect when the little man arrived. I wanted the perfect nursery. The perfect wardrobe. I wanted him to feel welcome in our home. What I didn't really REALLY think about or plan for, in more than general terms, was being a mother.

I knew my life would change. Everyone tells you that. And I really was prepared for the fact that I wouldn't go to a movie in a theater or play pinochle into the wee hours for many years to come.

But the frustrations are SO much deeper than that.

I wasn't ready for the lack of sleep the way I have experienced it. I wasn't ready for all of the minute details I would both have to remember and have no brain cells to remember at the same time. I wasn't ready to simultaneously love and want to throttle a tiny little person. As has been said 5 million times before, there is no handbook. There are no instructions. And I don't really do well with that kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants living. But once you dive in, there's no getting out.

I read a blog post yesterday that spelled out what I've been feeling lately SO well. (there is some colorful language in it, just so you're warned) I wanted to go find this woman and HUG HER. I know that I do not have full fledged post partum depression. I'm not sure how I know, but I do know that. But I do feel like I live in this crazy grey area every single day of my life right now that I can't possibly explain. A lot of times, I'm pretty sure I don't LIKE being a mother. And then I feel HUGE amounts of guilt for even THINKING that way. My son is adorable and sweet and wonderful. So what if he's a crappy sleeper? I probably trained him badly. So what if he tries to steal my computer off my lap 100 times a day? I don't pay enough attention to him while I'm working from home. It's not HIS fault I'm a useless mother. He doesn't deserve that! He's still this perfect little person. He didn't get to pick me. It's not fair!

Probably, those of you that are moms are well aware of all of the warped and broken logic that flows through my head on the 8th attempt to put Nolan down for a nap every day. I'm POSITIVE I'm not the only one who thinks this way, feels this way. . . and even knowing that, I don't totally feel better.

How do people do it over and over again? How do you not go crazy? HOW do you know what you're getting in to every time you have a baby, and you do it anyway?

These are my questions right now. . . while I try to convince myself that Nolan won't be an only child.

Thanks for indulging me.


Itty_Bitty_Wittes said...

I have to tell you that I am on #3 in 2 years. all my kids will be 15 months apart. I am not going to give you great wisdom or advice, but I will tell you something that helps me.
1-It is only this hard for a little while.
2-You can train #2 now that you know what to do.
3-Take one day at a time. Not every day can be perfect. How boring would that be?
It gets easier the more you have. One is hard because there is so much unknown. You are a pro with #2 and #3 you don't care! :) Hahahaha
You are a great mom, Look how happy Nolan is in the photos. That isn't all photoshop!

Eve said...

My mother is quite possibly the guru of motherhood. She read every book known to man and has oodles of degrees in childhood development (insert nausea here). For the first 3 years of my brother Nick's life--she never slept through the night. Some children just aren't great at it. As young as possible, my mother who swore she would never have a tv in the house when I was a child, had moved the tv and vcr into Nick's room and taught the little brat how to work it so he could "soothe himself" with a movie in the middle of the night. Nick insisted on Mommy and Me tim at 4am every morning. My mother just about lost her mind. And we watched. Which is probably why there is 1 grandchild among the 7 children. Best form of birthcontrol EVER. For what it's worth, you're amazing to me. My mom had 6 built in babysitters and she still went neurotic.

Lisa said...

I have to agree with the first comment. It's much harder the first time around. Everything is new and unknown, and you're still trying to figure out how to mother this child. I felt much more confidant, prepared, and relaxed the second time around.

With that said, it does get easier. And then it's hard again. And then a little easier again. It goes in phases, like everything else in life. Lily continues to be my greatest parenting challenge, because no matter what age she is we're both new at it. We're in a hard phase with her right now, but I keep reminding myself that it won't last forever . . . Really, it won't will it? (fingers crossed)

Usually, I find that the hardest part of parenting (next to sleep deprivation!) is having to be the the adult all the time. When things get a little rough, sometimes I wish that I could be the one throwing a tantrum. :)

Jenee Zirker said...

I think many of us have had the same fillings as you. I know I have. I think it's a little bit harder waiting to because you know what you time is all about. Once a little one comes into your life there really is no more you time. You are doing a great job. Plus, Nolan is a way cute kid. Good thing for that huh?

Oliver and Megan Hansen said...

The fun thing about life is that none of us have all the answers and what is easy for one is challenging for another. I still struggle with knowing I'm not doing everything the way I should be for my adorable children, but that's just it, they are adorable. And usually that love I have for them wins out over all the frustrtions. I'm sure as Nolan grows, begins to communicate more, you'll feel that having a second one may not be such a horrible thought. I think the Lord helps us forget certain things in order to encourage us to have more children. But he also helps us through the hard moments, because He knows we need Him. I know how you feel though, just like any mom does. Thanks for sharing your grief though.

sarraphim said...

A useless mother? And "he didn't get to pick" you? I seriously doubt we get no choice in premortality. After all, we know we'll most likely have them for eternity, and agency is a fundamental part of our natures; even there, we have to have choices, or why would we have fought so hard to keep that power to choose? And as for useless...? At least you're at home with him, which even my mother couldn't manage when I was a child. At least you love him, loved him enough to want to keep him, to bring him into this world, and to get him through it in one piece. Thousands, tens of thousands don't even have enough love in them to do that much, and yet we all survive it. You're a great person Melanie, and you have so much to teach Nolan as he grows up. He and Ben are truly blessed to have you in their lives. :)

emily said...

Oh, Mel... Yes yes yes, I needed to read that blog post too... And I am proud of you for posting this one. (and no I don't mind the link!)

You need to talk about this. Share this. Find a way to live with this so you can begin to grow and heal from it. So. I commend the step into the dark corner.

And like I said in my email, you are better than you can ever imagine... be at peace.

Amelia said...

The previous comments said what I wanted to say better than I could, but you've been so good at commenting on my blog I wanted to say hi. And there's no way you get such a handsome, smiley, obviously healthy and happy baby boy without a mother who is doing everything just right, not "perfect" maybe but right. As for future siblings, I'm not there either...but I expect that as we better define ourselves as mothers we'll find it easier to imagine doing it again.

Stefanie said...

Mel, everyone said so well what I would've said too...its just I am late in responding to this post.

Who defines perfect? The mother who cries into her pillow every night because she knows that she isn't but can't let anyone see it?

This is rough, it is hard, but God wouldn't give us a challenge that we couldn't handle.

And, I know I said some of this in an email to you, it is only human to err, and if you teach your son to be human, you've done your job well.

CYNDI said...

Motherhood is the hardest thing you will ever do. At times it is so exciting and wonderful and you just melt at their smiles. And then at other times, you just wish they would take another nap -even though they just woke up from one.
Also, Nolan is young. He will grow up and sleep through the night and he will tell you what he wants and which part of his body is hurting him and which band aid he needs to make it better. And then one day, you will look at Ben and realize you are ready for another one. And it will shock you! :) It happens to the best of us.
Andrew didn't sleep through the night until his 9 month birthday.

melray1134 said...

You're a good mom.