Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Secret to Parenthood

A couple of weeks ago I realized I’d figured out the secret to parenthood. No one knows anything. We are all just guessing. Sometimes we guess right, sometimes we guess wrong but it is all a crapshoot.

I had been thinking about a desperate phone call we made to a friend who we hadn’t talked to in years when T’s sleeping degenerated back in November. Our friend was surely surprised to hear from us after so long, and I’m not sure we were making a hell of a lot of sense, but he was very gracious and rose to the occasion with some suggestions and commiseration. It was a great comfort.

In the last 9 months there have been many times when our friends who are experienced parents have told us they’ve gone through the same thing-that we will get through it, that things will get better. Sometimes we’ll hear “what worked for us” usually alongside “but every kid is different”. The underlying message seems to be who the hell knows? And here’s hoping our fuck ups don’t inflict permanent damage! The thing is our friends have great kids, so even if they didn’t know exactly what they were doing things seemed to have turned out alright. I focus on that a lot when I'm freaking out about T.

T got sick a few weeks ago when we were in NC. His had the highest fever of his short life, it broke for good after 2 days and he seemed to be on the mend. But he hasn’t gotten completely well. As his father says he is shnorfully. He isn't grumpy, his fever was long gone and I sort of thought eh, kids have runny noses, he’s fine. But in a strange case of roll reversal his dad was very concerned. Z has been bugging me since last week to call the pediatrician and ask if we should bring him in. I broke down and called, really just to get him off of my back. When I explained the symptoms to the nurse I told her I was sure he was just fine, but his dad was being ridiculous and making me call. She said since he hadn’t gotten completely well and it had been so long I should bring him in.

He has an ear infection. In both ears. I guessed wrong. And I feel like a terrible mother. Z on the other hand is clearly a wonderful mother.

[After I put T down for the night I stood in the kitchen weeping, I mean really ugly tears. Z put his arms around me and asked what was wrong. I wasn’t terribly coherent, but said things along the lines of “How did you know?” over and over along with “He seemed fine” and “I’m the worst mom in the world” yup, drama queen, and general “wawawawawa” Z sort of rocked me back and forth and told me I was a good mom, and then very gently asked if I’d taken a chill pill yet.]

To make matters worse he is suddenly in the 5 to 10 percentile in weight. Now I’m thinking, am I starving him? His diapers are very wet. He poops about twice a day. What the hell? Our awesome pediatrician told me not to worry; it could be the extra calories he is burning now that he crawls. And his dad has always been skinny as a rail. But his weight feels like a judgment on my parenting.

A couple of days ago someone guessed that T was 7 or 8 months and it made me feel terrible. I felt like she was saying developmentally my baby was behind. After this visit to the doctors I realize that she probably thought he was younger because he is small. The interesting thing is when I was telling Z how much it bothered me he said it didn’t bother him at all. He assumed that she thought T was developmentally ahead because he can do way more than the typical 7 or 8 month old. I envied his confident way of thinking so much. I know that a lot of my insecurities come from my emotional problems, but I think that they also are par for the course for any mother no matter what her mental state. As a group I think we moms are quick to jump to the conclusion our parenting is being questions or that we are just plain bad at this job.

So yes, I think I’ve discovered the secret to parenting. We have no idea what we are doing. On the days it works out we feel great and on the days it doesn’t we feel like shit. And when moms feel like shit they rake themselves over the coals. On the other hand, dads have a cold beer. I think we should try to be more like dads.

I mean come on, does this kid look sick to you?


  1. "The underlying message seems to be who the hell knows? And here’s hoping our fuck ups don’t inflict permanent damage!"
    hells yeah.
    also - *absolutely* with the mellowing out and beer getting. like, 100%. i totally believe in mellow beer. and not being rough on yerself. cuz we *don't* have any clue, and parenting really is just some mad ad-libbing w/a lotta love.
    look in mirror and repeat after me, "i am a badass."
    now go get yerself a beer.

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