Monday, October 24, 2005

To Be a Mom

By Christina VanGinkel

If I could share only one piece of advice with a new mother, it would be simple. Take the time to be your baby's mother. If you do that, everything else will fall into place. Too often, a new mother is trying hard to be too many things at once, to keep their house spotless, to keep their infant from never fussing, to be a perfect working mother, or a perfect stay at home mother. There are always a million other things to do and be, and realistically, we know that many of these things must still be done, but in the same breath, they do not all have to be done at the same time, and to the perfection that they might once have been done. Housework may suffer on certain days, your hair may not be styled to perfection, meals may not be the elaborate creations you once enjoyed making for your spouse. This is part of being a new mom. From being tired, to suddenly finding boundless energy, from feeling as if you never want to get dressed again as you do not have a single clue as to where you would find the energy to go somewhere once you were dressed, to suddenly climbing the walls ready to get dressed up to go anyplace, even the grocery store.

If you can recognize that your emotions are going to run from hot to cold, from steaming to dry, and learn to coach yourself when your feelings are all so jumbled, that for the time being, not forever, just for the immediate time being, that being your baby's mother and nothing more is ok, you will be much more able to get through, and actually enjoy, this small blip in time that can seem so dramatic to your normal routine.

A friend of mine has a young baby, just a bit past the very early infant stage, and the baby was screaming as loud as she could. This was normal for her, she did it quite often, and I knew it was starting to wear on my friend's nerves. My friend was in her usual panic, as she could not get her to quit. She is the sort who has to have everything in her life in order. Her house is immaculate, her clothing are always looking stylish and pressed, her husband is the type who likes his things around him in order and is not quiet about telling the world around him that he expects it this way. She looked at me and asked me how I could sit there so calmly. Well, the baby was healthy, she was dry, and she had just been fed a bottle and burped. My guess was that she was tired, and I told my friend the more worked up she got, the more worked up her daughter would get. If she could just learn to take the screaming in stride, her daughter would learn from her calmness. If not, she could say a silent thank you that she lived rurally, and invest in a pair of earplugs. I am not condoning letting an obviously ill or uncomfortable baby scream, I am condoning learning what your child means when they do scream, and if that is their way they let off steam, who are we to stress out over a bit of noise? Love your child, be a mom, and know that not everything will be as perfect as it was before baby arrived, it will actually be better, because guess what, you are now among the elite group called Mothers!

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