You know the saying, "I was a perfect parent, and then I had kids"? It's so true. When I was just an Auntie and not a Mama, I had my game down. My nephews and niece were like my own little fan club; I could do no wrong in their eyes. At the same time, I wasn't one of those aunts who feeds the kids nothing but cake and ice cream and lets them rule the roost. I did my best to uphold my sister's values and rules when I babysat...maybe with just a little extra leeway.
When I had my son, it's not that I thought it would be easy, but I thought I'd be better at it.
It was such a slap in the face when, at about two weeks into motherhood, I realized that I was fumbling through everything. As a person who was always good with kids, the fact that I was struggling so much with my own child was hurtful. The worst part was that I had no one that I could look at and say, "Stop hurting me!" I mean, it wasn't the baby's fault; it wasn't my husband's fault (though he took the brunt of my frustration).
Was it my own fault?
Wasn't I supposed to be the one person who could calm my baby better than anyone? Wasn't I supposed to be the one person who knew instinctively what my baby needed? Wasn't I nursing and using cloth diapers? Wasn't I putting everything of myself into this kid?
And somehow, my mere presence wasn't enough. He cried, I nursed. He cried, I changed a diaper. He cried, I swaddled.
He cried, he cried, he cried.
The fact is, some kids cry more than others. Whether you call it colic, a high needs baby, or spirited, the fact is, sometimes babies cry. But it is painful when you feel like you don't know how to sooth your own child. The other fact is we're not magical. We really want to believe that the bond between mother and child will be there instantly, but sometimes it's not. And that's so hard to admit. You feel deficient saying that...I feel deficient saying it, and this all happened a year and a half ago!
So I want all the soon-to-be moms out there to know, motherhood is wonderful, special, surreal, but magical? No. It's hard work, it's labor intensive, it's long nights, sore nipples, poopy diapers, showerless days. And that's where the bond happens. In the midst of constantly putting yourself second to a tiny dictator, somehow, you start to feel it and your baby responds to you feeling it. And it gets easier...slowly, but surely, it gets a little easier.
And then your baby smiles a goofy, gummy grin right at you...and that's magical!