Back in the day, before I became all slacker-like, I would write a monthly “Top 10” list of mom-isms/baby-isms/random-isms. In honor of C hitting the big 1-0 (ten months!!!) soon, I decided to bring the Top 10 back. Holy shit, my baby is a toddler.
In this world, I believe that there are two kinds of people: mothers and not mothers. It doesn’t mean that not mothers are bad or emotionally inept. Hell, not all biological mothers are “mothers” (like this lady) just as I’m sure not all non-procreative women are “not mothers” – after all, some people really, really, really love their pets.
But having a child is like entering some crazy alternate universe, and you’ll only “get” it when you get there. Kind of like going away to college your freshman year – you are pretty sure it’s going to be cool, but you can help but be a little apprehensive. Then, you to realize that no one is going to give a shit that you’ve stayed up until 7am, it’s perfectly normal to get drunk off your ass on a Tuesday night, and the sweaty dude in the tattoo shop will totally pierce your eyebrow regardless of whether or not your parents approve. What is this world filled with jungle juice and marijuana?! Let freedom ring!
Except, becoming a mother is the opposite. You’re up until 7am with no sleep because your baby is crying or hungry or obviously has STOPPED BREATHING (even though he hasn’t). You’re drunk on Tuesday because if you didn’t have the whole bottle of wine, you’re pretty sure you’d end up on an episode of Snapped: Women Who Kill. And, you realize you’ve become that neurotic parent that won’t ever let your kid sleep on his belly – even though he really, really, really wants to – let alone EVER get a tattoo/piercing/make any other-regrettable-decision on his 18th birthday. (In other words, you’ve become your own mother.)
Seriously though, becoming a mother opens your eyes in so many ways. In the last 10 months, I’ve learned a lot about myself, about other people, about life in general. And if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that life is ever-changing.
So in honor of this, what better topic to tackle for the Top 10 at 10 Months than this: The Top 10 Ways My Life Has Changed Since 11/8/2011.
10. I’ve become a bad friend. It’s true, I only see or talk to my friends once every few months…if that. And by talk to, I mean ‘liking’ their posts on Facebook. My world now revolves around 7:45-start-to-get-sleepy, 8:00-on-the-dot bedtime…there is no room for happy hour and/or gallivanting about the city. Sure, some friends email me about get togethers or happy hour. And one might perceive that I’m being all douche-baggy for not responding…but, to this I say – Listen. I have 637 unread emails in my personal inbox and about 92 in my work email. You could try texting me, but I think I have about 7 outstanding texts from summer invitations. I’ll get to it when I get to it. Until then it is safe for you to guesstimate that I’m either up to my elbows in baby shit, spit up, or temper tantrums. And I’m not coming.
9. I still have dog indifference. I guess this is a step up from dog hatred, which I also experienced early on. Sometimes the hatred creeps in, like when I find dog pee on Charlie’s play mat. Or he rolls his walker through a pile of dog vomit. Or when he just gets to sleep and they insist on barking outside at all the nothingness. The other day, Libby pushed her way out of our screen door. We adopted her as a stray, and being that she is a beagle who likes to live on the edge of glory with her super sense of smell, we don’t let her off leash. But she went for it – she escaped. Cue me, running around the condo association screaming at the top of my lungs, only to discover that the dog is just running Nascar-like circles in the back yard and then proceeds to run her way right back into the kitchen. Clearly she had no intention of busting free from the chains.
For this simple fact, about 33% of me was happy. Equally, about 33% of me was irritated that I just ran screaming around my neighborhood with a wet towel on my head. 27% of me thought it was hilarious, only because Charlie thought it was hilarious. And the remaining 7% was still regretful that she missed her chance to find a good home.
8. Where the hell is my razor? I’d ask Elmo, who now lives on our shower spout, but obviously he is only good for making my life hell by rendering it nearly impossible to turn the shower on. Seriously though, my child is so mobile that our house might as well be coated in Styrofoam. C apparently doesn’t realize that there are risks to standing in the shower, and that even though mama’s razor is pretty and blue and could be candy, it is not. It took me .4 seconds to realize that it could no longer maintain residence in the shower. Where is it now? I have no idea. It seems to also be mobile. Please just don’t look at my legs. Or my arm pits.
7. You can only do what you can with what you’ve got. Motherhood does not come with any special powers, or superhuman capabilities, or the 6 extra sets of arms that you need. The other day, we were visiting my parents at a campground and I snuck away to their camper to make C a bottle and try to get him to sleep. He was so exhausted, you’d have thought he hadn’t slept in weeks. As I walked my way to the camper, I had mapped out my course of action: Set Charlie on the floor, go pee quickly (door open, of course), wash my hands, make a bottle, pick up child, feed child.
Apparently Charlie wasn’t on board with this plan.
When I sat him on the floor to play with his rattle, I guess I sat him down in some kind of pit of burning flames, or on a bed of used needles…at least that’s what his scream suggested. As I pee’d faster than anyone has ever before emptied their bladder, he crawled his way to me…still crying. As I washed my hands, he clung to my pant leg…still crying. As I moved over to get his bottle, he lost his balance, sprawled out on the floor and landed face down in the carpet…still crying. I picked him up, gave him the bottle, cuddled him, wiped his tears, and in 30 seconds he was out.
A crying child clinging to your pant leg can really make you feel like shit. But considering I only have 2 hands and poor bladder control (thanks to childbirth), I had to do what I had to do.
6. Per the above, it’s also become painfully obvious that I’ll never be able to urinate with the door closed again.
5. Savoring meals and proper digestion is overrated. I wonder, will I forever eat every meal like a homeless man that has been ravenous for weeks? Literally, I inhale my food. Even at lunch, when I’m at work, nowhere near the baby. It’s like fight or flight – eat now, or you’ll end up with cold pasta and ice cream soup. I mean, do foods at extreme temperatures even really exist anymore?
4. It is possible to be that tired. As a new mom, you might think it’s your thyroid/Lyme Disease/cancer causing you to be so damn tired…but really it’s just your new existence. Moms are tired. I actually went to my doctor thinking there had to be something wrong with me… Deep inside, I knew my PCP would think I was foolish. Luckily, she is a mom too, so she got it. I said to her, “I know it’s silly to be here saying I have a 9 month old and I’m tired…but I.am.so.tired.” She humored me by taking blood samples (all clear), and in the end, her prescription was to stop napping, start exercising, and snap into reality that moms just don’t get much sleep. (She didn’t really say #3, I added that part.)
Exercise? Right. No naps? Doesn’t she know that you’re supposed to sleep when baby sleeps? Doesn’t that hold true for the next 18 years or something?
3. Brushing my teeth is overrated. In a way that it is not at all overrated. But, when I’m trying to rush three people out the door at 7:45am while simultaneously corralling two insane dogs so they don’t destroy my house in the next 8 hours, ensuring that I finish my 3 cups of coffee is way more important than brushing my teeth. We all know that Newman’s Own and Wintergreen just don’t mix. And, while I’m sure my colleagues may not appreciate my stench, I’m sure they value keeping their faces…which I would probably rip off if I didn’t drink my coffee. I just don’t function well without it. Now, I keep my desk drawer stocked with a spare toothbrush, toothpaste and Altoids.
2. Our house simply will never be clean again. Ever. And it’s time to stop caring. There is spaghetti sauce all over my stove from dinner last night, old mail all over our kitchen table, boxes of crap for C’s 1st birthday everywhere, and two piles of dirty laundry by the front door. Will I clean any of this tonight? Outlook not so good. Will I clean any of this by the weekend? Reply hazy, try again later.
1. “I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life … I always did what someone else wanted me to do. I’ve always been someone else’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.” This is a quote from my latest book club book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed (read it, BTW!!!), that really resonated with me. Becoming a mother comes inherently with self-sacrifice and responsibility. I’m not sure that I’ve ever just been me either, in my whole life. And now, I certainly will never get the chance to attempt it. But, you know, I think I’m okay with that. Because that smile, that giggle, that cuddle, that first “Ma-ma-ma” – even that first explosive poo that had Tristan and I in hysterics – has made it all worth it.
And through my writing and documenting this journey of motherhood, I guess I am doing something for me. And truly, I’m glad that I get to share it with all of you.