Tuesday, March 27, 2012

on being a mama and how it's changed me

I have such a hard time getting myself to bed at a reasonable hour. Reasonable being 8:00 if I want to get enough sleep.  Realistic being 9:00. Reality being 10:00 or later.

Once Bennett is down for the night my time begins and I love my time.  J does the pacifier fetching and soothing from 7:00 until bed, which means I have hours to myself.  We often spend some of this time together, but a chunk of it is spent on our separate computers on different levels of the house.  I love spending time with J, but I cherish my alone time too.  It's important to me and necessary for my mental well being.

It's hard to go to sleep knowing Bennett will nurse between 9:30 and 10:30.  I hate sleeping for thirty minutes to an hour, I would rather stay up, nurse, and then sleep for four hours (if I'm lucky, which I haven't been for a few nights now).

During the day I feel like I'm sneaking time.  When Bennett is napping I should be cleaning the house, preparing dinner, folding laundry, but at night when the house is clean (ha, yeah right, more like good enough) I feel free to spend time on things I enjoy.

And when Bennett is awake I feel guilty if I'm online, or reading a book, or watching a television show.  I know he needs time on his own to play, but if I'm on the computer or reading a book I feel like I'm ignoring him.

It's funny, though, to watch J with Bennett on the weekends.  J plays on his phone, reads a magazine, does whatever he likes while Bennett plays next to him on the floor.  Then I get crazy jealous and a little bit angry because I don't get to do those things!

Silly, right?

There are days that fly by.  Somehow we go from waking up to J walking in the door in what feels like five minutes.  Other days drag.  I take Bennett to the grocery store just to get us out of the house.  And when my friend from down the street shoots me a text asking what we're up to I'm on her doorstep within seconds because I need someone else to entertain Bennett for a few minutes and her kids do a great job of it.

I'm happy staying home, but there are times when the solitary nature of being a stay at home mom overwhelms me.  And there are times when I feel like apologizing to Bennett because I'm all he's got for hours at a time.

Being a parent has highlighted and exposed my insecurities.  I'm the type of person who gets caught up in who is doing what.  I wonder what other moms are doing, how they're doing it, if I'm doing enough for Bennett.  I wonder if we should be doing more activities, but then remind myself he's only six months old, a bit too young for scissors and glue, we can break the crafts out later.  Some days are exhausting, some boring, some entertaining.  Most are all of these things hour after hour after hour.

After Charlotte died I complained about not having a guide to parenting a dead baby.  Well, there are plenty of books on parenting a living child, but after my brief foray into the world of sleep trainers I decided to do without the books and so find myself lost some most of the time.

Since Bennett's birth I've realized how much I discounted parents, friends, fellow mothers after Charlotte died.  I had a big chip on my shoulder, a bad attitude and a dead baby card.  Running through my mind like a non-stop advertisement in neon were the words, You think parenting is hard!  You think your life is hard!  You should try having a dead baby!  I threw that card down left and right like it bought me space to be dismissive to anyone and everyone having a difficult time in their lives.

I've learned now that each hard time is different and unique.  And what each person is experiencing in their lives is important because it is happening to them.  My hard time is not your hard time, but that doesn't mean yours should be negated.  We all have rocky roads to walk, we all struggle, we all feel inept at one time or another, we all need friends to lift and build us up.

I understand now that (most) parents do the best they can to love and raise their children to be decent, kind citizens.  No one knows what they are doing all of the time, but everyone knows what they are doing some of the time. And if we combine our knowledge we are unstoppable.

I have judged, condemned, sneered, and expressed frustration.  Now I want to extend a hand, let all parents know I praise and commend you.  And this also applies to those who have children in their hearts only.  It takes a strong mother to keep a memory so alive it feels tangible; when I talk to you I see your baby superimposed, imprinted on your heart, forever remembered and loved.

I hope you feel blessed and encouraged today.


  1. You have a beautiful blog and you definitely have something to say. I'm saving to my favorites. Keep doing what you're doing.

  2. I'd just love to be close enough to have a cup of (decaf) coffee with you and let the babies play. I'd be doing a lot of head nodding when you speak!!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

  3. "I had a big chip on my shoulder, a bad attitude and a dead baby card. Running through my mind like a non-stop advertisement in neon were the words, You think parenting is hard! You should try having a dead baby! I threw that card down left and right like it bought me space to be dismissive to anyone and everyone having a difficult time in their lives."

    This was me. This still IS me. With a few extra complaints thrown in about not being able to get pregnant without help and good insurance. I know I don't comment much here anymore, but I still read. And I think you're doing a wonderful job.

  4. You are a wonderful mother to BOTH your beautiful children! I feel that I will have a lot of your same insecurities when Logan is born. I know you are not the only one with these feelings. I love the last paragraph of this post... made me tear up - you are a beautiful person and a beautiful writer and I feel blessed to "know" you through your blog <3 thank you for sharing your life <3

  5. I played that same card for a long time, and had the same chip on my shoulder. I think it was a necessary phase to go through though and I don't really regret any of my thoughts as such, as my childless mother days were still by far my darkest days, and I won't make any apologies for that. But having children is a whole new level of hard, and one I didn't fully appreciate until I got here. And that's the thing, you just can't. Just as those who don't have dead children can't understand our pain.
    You are doing plenty for Bennett by the way. I don't do that many (ok any) really structured activities for Angus and I truly don't think he's missing out. We get so caught up in thinking we need to be running from one activity for the next which just stresses us out and lightens our pockets. We didn't get carted around to all of those things as babies/toddlers and I don't think we missed out, or at least I don't think I did. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, you're doing a marvellous job and I can almost guarantee that if you have another, you'll let a lot of these thoughts go. It has been SO much different this time with Juliet. I've certainly done away with the books and I don't compare as much to other mums now.
    Great post, Angela. xo


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