I had a baby almost seven months ago, and so when I started this blog I vowed to myself not to become a “Mommy Blogger.” There seem to be countless of them out there already and even if there is room for another one (which is debatable), I knew that I did not want it to be me. Because honestly, I was not ready to describe myself as a mother, I was not ready for that to be my overriding identity. I’m almost 25 and happily married, but I haven’t figured out what it is in life that I love to do, and I definitely haven’t experienced that many places or activities. I hadn’t had enough alone time with my husband, or enough sitting-at-cafes-alone-with-a-book time (could I ever have had enough, though?). My parents had strongly encouraged me not to have a baby too soon, and I had assured them that it would be a good five years before they were grandparents. But you know, things don’t always go according to plan.
In the first couple months after having my son, I would feel guilty every time someone asked me — with an excited smile on their face — how I liked being a mother. I didn’t want to let them down and I didn’t want them to judge me. But if I had answered them honestly, I would have said I was a little depressed about it. It wasn’t postpartum depression — I did not want to hurt myself or my baby, and I was not unable to get myself out of bed and do what I needed to do — but I definitely was not overjoyed about it. I guess I saw it as a duty; this creature had been given to me and it was now my job to take care of it the best I could. In the beginning this was fairly simple (except for the colicky bouts in the evenings); all I had to do was feed him, change his diaper, bathe him, and put him to sleep. If we timed it right, we could still go to coffee shops or restaurants and he would sleep through almost anything. Now though, he sleeps less easily and for less time, and he actually is a little person who needs to be entertained and taught.
Don’t get me wrong — I love him and I think he’s the cutest little baby. I love it when he laughs, and I’m sad when he’s sad. I look forward to his first word and to playing catch with him at the park. But I still find myself trying to multitask and not doing it very well. I work from home during the day and I have some flexibility in my schedule, but it’s still a 40-hour a week job. I sit there on the computer trying to do my work as quickly as possible while keeping one eye on my son, making sure he’s not eating weird things off the carpet or crawling into the bathroom, or getting up on his knees and then toppling over, hitting his head on the hard wood floor. I put him in his jumper, praying that he will stay happy in it for more than a few minutes, singing “The Wheels on the Bus” from across the room to keep him happy just a little longer.
And one day I realized what madness this all was. I’ve been putting my son second, doing the minimum in order to do everything that I need to do. I realized that I needed to change my attitude or I would just continue to chase my own tail and not do anything well. I need to put my son first (a really basic concept, I know, but one that’s sometimes easier said than done) and everything else will fall into place. Instead of grumbling when he wakes up too early from his nap, I should put aside what I’m doing and give him my full, loving attention. Then he will be a happier, healthier child, and I, in turn, will be a happier, healthier mom. That’s the theory, anyway. I can’t expect him to be full and complete if I am only giving him a part of me. Changing my outlook, I trust, will reap significant rewards.
You know, you reap what you sow. If you approach your task with a negative attitude, you will get out what you put in, if you’re lucky. More likely, you’ll come out with less than you put in because your negativity destroyed some of whatever it was you touched. A positive attitude, on the other hand, will add life and health to your task and you will probably get out more than you put in. It’s a mystery of the universe, but I think it’s true. It’s a work in progress, but I will be reminding myself to limit the multitasking and instead give all of my love and positivity to my son, because he’s what really matters. The dishes will get cleaned and my work will get done, but my son’s mind, soul, and life are in my hands and that’s a gift to be cherished and a responsibility to be respected.