Thursday, July 10, 2014

Babies are demanding

I had a baby four weeks ago. In the spirit of "small Whistler" I will call her Piper here. I have feelings about my skills as a parent. On good days when Piper sleeps and eats well I feel like parenting is easy. On days when she fusses for hours and I'm short on sleep I feel like a very unskilled parent. Probably one of the most frustrating things is when she cries and I don't understand why so I can't comfort her. In those times I feel like it's a miracle that so many people have survived babyhood and exist at all. And how does anyone have more than one child? But the other day a woman on my walk said she wasn't the biggest fan of "the newborn stage" and it gave me hope that maybe there are other stages of child development that I will enjoy more. But every time I find myself wondering at how difficult raising a baby is, I think about how it will only be MORE difficult if/when I have other children, which then makes me even more discouraged.

One of the most overwhelming things is when I feel bad for feeling bad. I mean, I prayed to have a child for a few years, and now that I have one, I don't even enjoy it that much? But I'm trying to think of it like a process? For example, if someone wants to go to college, and gets to go, and then they complain about their classes, we're not like "well you WANTED to go to college so stop WHINING." So I think it is possible to both want to have a child and not enjoy being a parent all the time. I just hope that when my child is older I actually enjoy that too, instead of just constantly wanting her to grow up.

Another thing I've had to adjust to is being flexible with my schedule. No matter how much I try to plan on feeding at a certain time, I have to be ready to drop everything at a moment's notice and pay attention to my daughter. That seems pretty basic but it makes me feel kind of out of control? Luckily I am finding ways to manage it; this morning when she wouldn't sleep I woke up and practiced piano for a bit, so I didn't feel like being awake when I wanted to sleep was a total waste of time. And I mean, it's not actually a waste of time to soothe a crying baby either, it just starts to feel futile after a while. Various sources inform me that Piper is cute, and the other day I think she actually smiled at me, so maybe there's hope that I won't see her as a milk-sucking leech for much longer.


Tianna Homer said...

I totally understand! You described the newborn phase perfectly. Peter (which is funny when combined with Piper) is a remarkably easy baby. But I only know that because my first two were exactly how you describe. I have always hated the first 6 months. But in good news, it does get better! I think getting more sleep is part of it. But having baby learn to communicate is incredibly helpful, too.

Surprisingly, I really enjoy 2-year olds. I know it's supposed to be terrible two's, but I don't mind inquisitiveness. And even the incessant "why?" Doesn't bother me (most of the time) because I look at it as a chance to teach my kids to love learning. And it makes me stop and think about what I normally take for granted. Watching a kid learn is probably one of my favorite things ever. Right next to imagination and the hilarious things that come out of their mouths.

And more good news! When you have more kids, your first is older and you have helpers! It's not as hard as you'd expect. So hang in there! Push through a few more months! And then when she actually *does* things like crawling and walking and talking, you'll start enjoying it a hundredfold more.

Andrea Landaker said...

So, so true. I love when they start to communicate more with you than just "wahhhhhh, I don't like something!", even if it's just a smile to say "heee, you're my favorite person!". I'm not a fan of the newborn phase, either, but everyone has to go through it! I only wish I lived closer so I could help out more. :-( Trying to comfort a fussy baby is not so bad when you don't do it all the time. :-D

One thing that took me forever to learn (still learning it, actually) is not to take my kids' behavior personally. They can be fussy (or in a bad mood, or sad, or saying rude things), and it may not have anything to do with me. I can do my best to help them, but I don't have to feel responsible for every emotion my kid feels! It's very humbling.

And subsequent babies are easier for exactly that reason. You know babies are just going to cry sometimes, and you do your best, but in the end they might just cry and the only thing they you can do is love them even when they are crying. Their crying (except in extreme cases) has nothing to do with how good of a parent you are. Whew! :-)

That's what I keep reminding myself when a kid cries because they lost video game time or are in time-out, anyway. :-D

Rachel Helps said...

thanks ladies :-)