Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy Days

Today has been a great day. Actually, I'm having a great week. In fact, April has been good to me. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I feel like a good mom! It's been a journey to get to this point, so I'm celebrating the way I feel!

I have to say, I handled the newborn months pretty well. Was I a hormonal mess? Yes. Did I cry about something almost every day? Absolutely. I cried thinking about the day Nicknack would get married and love another girl more than me. I cried because the love I had for him was so overwhelming I couldn't stand it. I cried every time I looked at his "one day" photo from the hospital, starting when he was 11 days old. He'd already changed so much! (That photo is still my favorite possession among everything I own.) I cried just thinking about all the newborns in the world who aren't wanted or loved. I cried thinking about what it would be like to be a Mama in Darfur. Or a Mama in a concentration camp during WWII. Or a Mama who couldn't afford to buy her children Christmas presents. Can you imagine? It got a little ridiculous. I cried often.

But I really was happy! Despite the sleep deprivation and nursing problems.

Fast forward a few months. Between Nicholas's fifth and seventh months I was became a little depressed. I felt so isolated and inadequate. I felt like a huge failure. I just knew that Nicknack, who was so unbelievably precious, deserved such a better mother! I told my husband and mother things like, "I might as well go back to work because Nicholas would be MUCH better off with a nanny or in day care. He'd be better off with ANYONE other than me!"

I guess I always thought the moment I had a child I would become a perfect person. I know that sounds strange, but it's true. The first inkling I had that motherhood wouldn't bring an instant "extreme makeover" was during my pregnancy. I noticed that I was still eating junk food. I assumed I would be one of those health nutty pregnant gals, because it was what was best for the baby. And here I was, living on macaroni and cheese. Hmm. I decided that the drastic transformation would accompany childbirth.

Giving birth was awesome. I've never felt such joy or pride.

But, imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was still not perfect. Self-centered. Still lazy sometimes. Still a procrastinator. Still watching too much tv.

In short, I was still me. LAME!

It has taken me several months to get a grip. The most helpful thing has been honesty of other moms.

One of my favorite aunts got wind of my delayed baby blues and sent me a lovely letter describing her own feelings of inadequacy as a new parent. This from one of the women I consider to be an ideal mother. I often wish I lived in a more old fashioned world. You know, where people stay in the same small town for a lifetime, surrounded by older and wiser family members and family friends. This letter gave me that feeling.

A few funny Christian mom blogs have been a saving grace. The transparency of these women has helped me to realize that most moms consider themselves flawed and sometimes feel unworthy. Laughing along at the antics of these strangers has helped to fill the friendship void in my life, and given me ideas and inspiration.

There is a website with nothing but "True Mom Confessions." Although I've sworn off this site (because a) it's too time consuming and b) some of the confessions are dark), it helped me to realize how many mom's struggle as I do.

My own mother has given me the best non-Biblical advice I've received, to date. "Muddle through." She revealed this parenting gem to me during one of many tear filled phone calls. I don't know why I think this advice is so profound; it would take 1000 words for me to explain. It just works for me. Her main point was that you just do the best you can, don't even AIM for perfection, don't sweat the small stuff, etc. The beauty is, you can't fail AND your kids never know the difference. I think this must be true, because I always decribe my mom as "perfect" and a "Supermom" type. From my perspective, she was the best. But from her perspective, she was just doing the best she could and hoping it was good enough!

So I've been enjoying motherhood a lot more these days. I realize I'm not a perfect mom, but I'm a GOOD mom. That's what I'm shooting for. And it isn't hard at all. Perfect: impossible. Good, I can handle. I'm finding more joy in the time I spend with Nicholas. Focusing less on me and my flaws and more on him and his amazingness. And I can used words like amazingness, because I'm good, not perfect.

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