First of all, a few notes.
One. I am now completely, utterly confident that people who bring meals to families with new babies get a special jewel on their crowns in heaven. If you are one of those people, be assured that your labor is not in vain.
Two. I am equally certain that whatever money I am saving a month on formula by breastfeeding I am spending almost that in coconut milk ice cream. It is deplorable. And also necessary.
Anyways. There were a lot of surprises for me being a mom, which I am reminded of again in round 2. Some are silly. Hearkening back to the aforementioned, I had no idea that the caloric intake of a breastfeeding mom is equal to that of a linebacker. And who knew you changed 12+ diapers a day for a month, or that babies were born with blue eyes, or that the belly button stump turns black (ick), or that “tummy time” is as necessary as it is hated.
On a larger scale though, if I am being perfectly frank with you, the biggest surprise is simply this: that the human race keeps on existing. I mean this in two ways. First, it’s amazing to me that at least half of the human race isn’t cut short before their first birthdays due to idiotic and careless parenting skills. Which goes to prove that my husband is right (again?): that babies ARE more rubber than glass.
But also, I am genuinely surprised that despite horrible, trying, unmeasurably difficult circumstances, people continue to carry, bear, and raise little babies.
Even choosing, against all rationality, to have another or – gasp – three or four more after that.
Because the truth is, being a mom of a baby is – to me anyway – shockingly, impossibly, painfully difficult.
I’m embarassed to admit that. God sanctifies some people through trials of illness, loneliness, prison, torture, and the like. For me, all it takes is an eight-pound baby with a potential case of acid reflux. And, voilà, I am undone.
Honestly, I still can’t figure out if I am just that pathetic of a person, or parenting really is that difficult. I waffle between silently accusing dismissive older parents of lying or forgetfulness, or wondering if it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born, an American, or just plain spoiled.
But parenting asks too much of me.
It demands biceps and back muscles and mental multitasking and the remembering of a hymnal of kiddie songs and the ability to immediately conjur up sufficient distractions to ward off an impending tantrum, along with the wisdom to know which act of defiance to ignore and which to punish.
It asks me to remain patient when my baby wakes up (again), to trust when I don’t know why he cries, to sacrifice sleep and cheese and coffee and long showers and me-time all in the name of love.
I am embarrassed to admit that being a mom demands more from me than I can give.
In some ways, though, there is not a better place to be. God has reminded me constantly that, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” There is something a little comforting in finally saying, God, I can’t do this without you. Please help. I know that he hears those prayers!