"Our relatives are all full of modern, research-based ideas on how to care for an infant. Without them we would be lost."
Submitted by Laura Recchi
Weeks away from childbirth. Just binged on house of cards and true detective. What else could you possibly want to know? If you really miss me, find me on FB.
Whooping cough at my daughter’s school. Right now I’m in favor of making a list of names of people that opt out and forcing vaccines on them.
I’m pregnant. My doc was super wrong and looks like I wrote all that sappy shit for nothing! Miracle #2 drops in April…
Maybe someday, in a book that hasn’t been written yet, I will still use this little guy as my bookmark. Maybe I will prop my pillow up on my bed and settle in, sun streaming through my sheer curtains. Maybe I will remember the morning she spent quietly drawing a little person and taping him together in pieces. Maybe that day will be a good day, and I will remember these afternoons with the sun and windows and pillows and quiet and I will sigh and be okay.
Back when we lived in Chicago, we went to a White Sox game. I was about 20 weeks along, barely showing, but just starting to feel Caroline move around. I didn’t even know she was a she. She wasn’t doing much yet. Later in my pregnancy, she would stretch way out, longways across my belly, arms up over her head (as much as I could tell), the same way she slept as a baby and the same way I catch her sleeping every now and then. This position kept me from looking pregnant for a long time, I really only looked overweight, puffy faced and wide stomached. It was a hot night and it had taken forever to get to the stadium, and would take even longer to get home on a work night. My back ached in the hard seats and I wanted to go home.
The White Sox scored a home run and fireworks went off. It was very, very loud, and suddenly Caroline started going crazy. She moved around way more than she ever had and seemed to be kicking very rapidly. Without thinking, I moved my hands to my stomach and rubbed them around, the way you might comfort a newborn by rubbing its back. It was in this moment that I first got a glimpse of myself as a real mother. Comforting my baby in distress would be something I would come to know well, something I have done now thousands of times, sometimes literally in my sleep.
Her kicking slowed under my hands. The fireworks continued to blast, then subsided, and I hoped my baby was no longer scared or frantic or whatever she was feeling. What I know is that she was responding to an outside stimulus, maybe out of fear, maybe simply neurological.
That baby, who stretched her tiny body across the inside of mine like a cat in the sun, felt something, reacted to something. That means something. I was 20 weeks pregnant.
By far the hardest part of being a parent is allowing your child to experience pain. Today two little bitches were mean to Caroline at a birthday party. Luckily, she didn’t hear what they said about her, only I did. What I wanted to do was pull the little c-words down by their ponytails and stomp them. What I did was nothing. If it is possible to literally feel your heart break, I might have felt that.
I have been reflecting so much on the significance of Caroline starting school. Mostly, I think about what it means for me, how it means that I have to let go and relinquish the control I have had over every aspect of her life for the last 5 years.
But it’s really about her. I think how she will learn that some people aren’t very nice. I think about how this is the very beginning of her learning to navigate her own life. Sure, I will still be here as her mother, to help her figure these things out. But it’s beginning to be on her. She will experience the pain of a friend being mean or leaving her out. I won’t be able to take on that pain and deflect it from her. It’s killing me.
As a parent you recognize your child’s faults, but they are still so precious to you. To me, Caroline is so sensitive and sweet. She’s definitely a little weirdo, but to me it’s endearing and unique. I have forgotten how truly awful children are, and that all we’ve taught her that makes her a little eccentric might hurt her. But that’s good. As a parent, I need her to learn that some people aren’t very nice. It is so crucial that we let them out into the world, little by little. She has to learn who the mean girls are in order to identify her real friends. I truly hope I can give my child the confidence to find the nice kids, to be a nice kid herself.
Growing up as a parent is very, very hard. Watching a little person become a bigger person is amazing, but knowing all the pain and hard stuff that’s coming is almost too much to bear at times. Setting a good example, being the better person (NOT curbing two five year olds at a birthday party) and being there to soothe the hurts are all part of this deal.
I don’t know how we all survived childhood. I really don’t.