I want to be sure we’re all clear about something: It’s not all sexy new jeans and high flying adventure over here. For every beautiful hike, there have been about a hundred loads of laundry and dishwasher loads and diaper genie bags to empty. Our house is tiny. Attempts to maintain sanity involve picking crap up off the crap-collecting surfaces that abound in our house – again and again and again. We take out all the toys. We put them back. We take them out. We put them back. Etc. It is a constant and never-ending battle against clutter.
We had to throw in the towel twice on planned outdoor adventures. First, to Lake O’Hara because of thunderstorms. Then to Waterton Lakes National Park because the Washington forest fire smoke rendered our air quality high risk. O’Hara resulted in a re-route to Glacier National Park. Waterton meant we were housebound in Calgary for the weekend. We are learning to be flexible. And we are learning that sometimes, you just have to surrender.
And amidst the day-to-day of maternity leave, I sometimes feel like I am failing miserably at what I am doing here with my son. I feel like I have looked at my phone and checked Instagram an unhealthy number of times. I long for someone to text me. I daydream about living closer to family so I’d have some company. I fantasize about all the things I could be doing: long treks in the wilderness, crazy festivals, saving the world, etc. I become certain that James is bored to death of me, that I haven’t engaged enough with him, that he’s probably going to miss all of his milestones and it will be all my fault – Shouldn’t he be crawling by now? Standing by now? Walking? Talking? Counting?
We just introduced solids and I’m certain I’m doing it all wrong. My sister-in-law/mother of three told me to hold off on the fruits. “Once they taste sweet, they want nothing else,” she warned. Well lemme tell ya, it’s been a bonzana of strawberries and bananas. I told a friend I’m sure I’m dooming him to a life of bad eating habits and certain obesity. I was only being slightly hyperbolic.
And even in the areas I feel I’ve made headway – naps, for example – I’m becoming a bit of a fanatic. Last Saturday shaped up to be a sunny beacon of a day. We shipped out early for a hike to an alpine lake. James slept almost the whole drive there. As we arrived, I was calculating naps in my head: but now he won’t nap on the hike up! Even if he does, and he sleeps on the way down, he won’t sleep on the car ride back! Ok crazy woman. Slow down. Just relax.
He did scream for a substantial part of the drive home. But do you know what? (and this is really going to shock you): we were all just fine.
I had lofty dreams about being a cool laid-back mom. (People I know corroborated these fanciful notions!) The other night we were going to bed and Dan teased me about my nap mania: “You could relax a little, you know?” I nodded. I could indeed relax a little. Then he said: “But I get it. You’re his mom.”
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? I’m his mom. I feel James in my bones. Sometimes it makes me a smooshy loving momma bear. And sometimes it makes me a little neurotic.
We all dream about the kind of parents we’re going to be: totally cool and laid back and yet somehow disciplined enough to raise perfect healthy, smart, interesting children who prefer organic wood toys to iPhones. (Thank you Buzz Feed, for pointing out 17 things people are 100% sure about until they have kids – “When my kids get tired they’ll go to bed. It’s not rocket science.”- ha!)
But of course the reality is messier than that. I’m still learning who I am as a mother. I am learning to let go of what I thought would be and accept what is. I expect this will be a lifelong process.