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August 5, 2013 / ginavoskov2013

A Case of the Mondays.

Tonight I heard Dennis’s key in the lock four hours before I thought I’d hear it. This is important because that happened to be the exact moment that I was lowering myself lavishly into My Own Private Meltdown, much like I would lower myself into a nice hot bath–except with way more crying and regret. I ran to the door, burst into tears, and hung limply on his body while he stood on the threshold, bags in hand. For a minute I could understand why our enormous cat, Otis, always meets us at the door and collapses when he realizes it’s us–he thinks he’ll never get food again and is so relieved to see us he just falls down and purrs. I was like that, only there was no purring. Dennis thought I was laughing, but when he saw my silent sobs he began swaying with me like he does with Edith when he’s trying to help her fall asleep. Yes, Edith’s 60th day on Earth was probably fine for her, but holy shit–DOES SHE OWN ME.

This afternoon was hard. Not entirely, and not nearly what parents of really fussy babies would call “hard.” Those parents would laugh at me, I’m sure. I imagine they’re like drinkers of whiskey or moonshine or booze made in prison toilets when it comes to handling the severity of their babies’ crying. My tolerance is more along the lines of a white wine spritzer with some fresh berries thrown in for color. Edith rarely cries about something that is not immediately fixable. Either she’s hungry (boob), wet (change the diaper), or tired (boob and sleep.) So I’ve had an extremely gentle ease into parenthood these two months. But when she’s overtired or she’s not slept very deeply in the afternoon, she cries more and I am at a near total loss for what to do.

An overtired baby, as I am beginning to learn, doesn’t just fall asleep and stay asleep. The dance I have to do with her to convince her that sleep is what she needs and wants is kind of like the dance you have to do with someone who’s too drunk to walk straight and you have to convince him to leave the bar and walk to the car to go home. You have to do just the right thing or else you’ll end up with a belligerent drunk on your hands and that’s asking for more trouble. Overtired babies are like belligerent drunks. If Edith could speak when she’s overtired, she’d be slurring her words and calling me a son of a bitch while trying to pee behind a parked car.

I’d like to say, at times like that–when Edie’s overtired–that I play the role of the know-it-all Mother who swoops in and sings just the right lullaby to help her drift off to sleep, or that the mere scent of me is exactly what she needs to feel at ease and calmly drift off– but those are the times when I feel least like a mother and more like a babysitter who can’t wait until the fucking parents get home because this kid won’t stop crying and I’ve got math homework due tomorrow.

In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I feel like a “mother” at all. When will that happen? Last Thursday I went to a “Mommy Meet-up” in my neighborhood (more on that later) and felt entirely out of place. How is it possible that I could be a “Mommy?” I don’t feel like one. I feel like someone who bounces up and down and hangs her boobs out for a living. I guess that’s kind of like a stripper, but without the paycheck and/or frat guys on the receiving end of all that work. And the boob work is just relentless. No longer are these things ornamental–purely utilitarian now. Only the one utilizing them can’t even ask for them politely. She just wails until she gets them in her mouth and then falls asleep before saying “thank you.”

So these days I’m feeling a bit used. Which would explain my near total collapse into my husband’s arms at the front door. But he’s here now and there is tea steeping and Edith hasn’t made a peep for a couple of hours. This all means that Monday is almost over, so we are almost to the middle of the week, which is just a couple more days until the weekend when we’ll be a family of three again for at least 48 straight hours. It’s all about perspective, I guess.

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3 Comments

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  1. s / Aug 5 2013 10:24 pm

    I feel like you read my mind the first 6 weeks of being a new mommy. I do promise you though, a lot of this will ease up… I’m still nursing my 1 year old, and the fussiness will subside and bright smiles and giggles will be in your future – hang in there! Thanks for the post.

  2. Melinda / Aug 6 2013 3:09 am

    I hope this helps you writing it all down. You certainly describe how I felt 28 years ago.

    I shouldn’t worry that when you went to the new mom’s meeting you didn’t feel that you fit it. When I look back there was a huge amount of denial about how well everyone was coping with the new baby. No one wanted to admit that the ‘new precious’ was driving them mad.

    I wanted to tell you, to warn you, that it was awful being a new mother. But I couldn’t do it because it is probably the most wonderful love you can ever feel and you will learn so much about yourself.. I’ve never felt so humbled. Louisa seem to magnify all my faults and the worse one was impatience.

    Buy some ear plugs. Put them in when she is screaming and it won’t be so piercing and awful. You will still need to do all the boob swinging and soothing but you won’t feel as fretful with the volume turned down.
    I am glad Dennis is there for you. (Doesn’t it make you wonder how a single mother gets through all this?) It will get better but I hate to break some other bad news…when she learns the word ‘no’ and ‘why’ you’ll think you are going insane. That 2 or 3 year old will totally own you! But then she will sing you a song or tell you that she loves you and it will be all ok again!

  3. ginavoskov2013 / Aug 7 2013 12:13 pm

    @S: I hope you’re right. I hate to want to rush through the difficulties, but I find myself wishing they would go away.

    @Melinda: the ear plugs are a good idea. We are starting sleep training this weekend into next so I think I will invest in a good pair and ride out the nights. The good news is there will likely be a swear-ridden post in the midst of the training or just following, so hopefully that’ll be entertaining for you all! 🙂 I’m so glad to hear that you said it was “awful” being a new mom. I think we need to feel like it’s okay to feel that way.

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