I get that those "First Year" books mean well, and they did provide me with a sense of comfort when I got home with my little squirmy and all I could think was "Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. What am I supposed to do now?!" But let's be honest - most kids (and my kid in particular) do not fit any sort of mold.
To fully illustrate my point, here's my abbreviated, edited, and censored list that I drafted up for you all. I call this the "Why-Does-This-Have-To-Be-So-Freaking-Difficult-Now-That-I-Have-A-Little-Minion" list:
Item A - Meals
I could break this down into multiple categories, really. But for the sake of brevity, I'm just going to umbrella this bad boy. Prepping meals for munchkin has proved to be way more difficult than I anticipated, only because little Miss Independent will love something today and then turn her nose up at it tomorrow. I would give her something off of my plate (or my husband's) if I could actually cook something for longer than five minutes without hearing the screech of a child who is getting into something she knows damn well is off-limits. So, I try to feed her (usually unsuccesfully), we get her to bed, and then we feed ourselves around 7:30-8 PM.
Yeah. That's healthy.
Item B - Laundry
Here's a fun little conflict for you: I need to fold laundry. My kid likes to unfold laundry. If I let her unfold the laundry that I'm folding, she's happy, and I can work for longer. But it takes me longer to fold the laundry. Because she's unfolding it. If I try to distract her with anything other than folded laundry, though, she goes bananas.
Also, how can a being so little produce so many dirty articles of clothing?!
Item C - Phone calls
"Oh, hey mom. You're on the phone? Cool. I'm going to go play with an electrical outlet, find the only dust bunny that you didn't clean up earlier and eat it, and then scream like a giraffe caught in a bear trap until you stop talking to anyone but me."
Item D - Spontaneity or gatherings of any kind
Background: My kid has a ridiculously strict routine, because that's what makes her happy. A morning snooze and an afternoon nap are a must, and she crashes out between 6:30 and 7:30 PM every night. She sleeps in a crib, and has never successfully napped in a pack-n-play. Nor does she sleep all that well in other peoples' cribs (One exception: the crib at my mom and dad's house. She'll sometimes sleep better at Mima and Papa's house than at ours.)
Needless to say, my husband and I hardly go out these days because it's simply not worth the headache. When we do go out, we plan our trips around her naptimes, and we leave early enough to get her home and to bed so she's a happy little pork chop the next day. If we fail to do this, we pay for it the next day...we pay for it dearly.
For those of you who haven't met my kid, just trust me on this: She is sweet as pie most days, but when you have "wronged" her, she shows no mercy. Her temper is vicious.
Now, with all of this in mind, here's a short list of the comments that I have heard over the past year:
- "Oh, her bedtime is too early. You can't have a social life with that bedtime."
- "It's only 6 PM. She doesn't look tired at all to me."
- "She should be sleeping through the night by now. Don't feed her between 10 PM and 6 AM, because you're only encouraging a bad habit."
- "You can't let her control your life."
Item E - Censoring myself
Sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety, and the daily frustrations of motherhood have worn my soul down a tad, especially over the past couple of weeks. This isn't the greatest time to try to censor myself, but before we know it, our daughter will be a parrot-in-training. My hubby and I already have a tendency to be foul-mouthed, so, it's better to break the habit now than later when it's essential.
But, have you ever sought out the perfect word other than "F!@#" when you step on a triangle from your kid's shape sorter? Or when you just barely brush the side of the sensory table with a sleeping child in your arms, and every musical buzzer and flashing light goes off? There's really nothing quite as soulfully satisfying as shouting out the mother of all curse words when you're at your rope's end.
I'm working on it, though! I swear.
So, in conclusion, it's easy to see why I have a bit of a vendetta against "First Year" books. They make it sound like if you read up on kids enough, and if you plan far enough in advance, you can Martha Stewart this thing called "everyday life" in the blink of an eye. The cold hard fact about being a new mom, though, is that you love your little pipsqueak with all of your heart and soul, and that love stresses you the frick out. You want to give them the best that you can, but you're so overwhelmed and tired that you sometimes forget how to brush your own damn teeth. You read up on why they're crying and how to soothe them, you try every lullaby in the book, you end up crying yourself...and then you find yourself singing the latest country song about binge drinking, and that puts your baby to sleep in a split second.
It doesn't make sense. None of it makes sense. And it never will make any sense. But that's parenting. It's a confusing jumble of unconditional love and perpetual frustration.