Friday, June 21, 2013

What Is A Natural Mother?

Most New Moms Don't Feel Like Natural Mothers

I relate to this. I relate to it so much it made me cry. It speaks to me because I don't feel like a mother. I know I spend my day caring for a little person who is very cute and whom makes me smile. I have an instinctual need to tend to him and his needs. I worry about his wellbeing. I take pride in his growth and development.

But do I feel like a mother? Do I feel like I'm a good mother, even?

These are questions I find harder to answer.

There's an entire internet of people out there piping in about how babies should be raised according to their standards ("If you're not going to stay home with your kids, why did you bother having any?"). There's a whole industry devoted to telling you how it should be done (Breast is best. No screen time until they're 2 years old. Soothers are to be avoided. Let them cry it out. Don't let them cry it out. etc.") There's another section of the community at large that says having kids is either a waste of time or a choice you should be alone in handling ("Why should my taxes pay for daycare subsidies? I don't have kids. If you can't afford kids, don't have them!")

And that leaves new mothers like me feeling adrift.

I have no one here with me. So I turn on the TV because as much as I'm supposed to be talking to my baby so he'll develop language, he doesn't talk back. It's very one-sided. I need to hear adult voices. If I can't have adult conversation, I need to at least listen to it. Sometimes Jack watches with me. So, no more Criminal Minds. But there goes the "no screen time" recommendation. It's just not doable, not if my sanity counts for anything.

I'm having troubles with breastfeeding. Not ready to give it up entirely yet, but doing a combination of both is giving me extra challenges. My breasts leak all over me, yet my baby doesn't want to feed on them most of the time. I have to pack formula with me whenever I go somewhere, yet I still need to wear nursing clothes to give him the chance to eat from me first. I'm cleaning bottles and a pump, and taking the time to feed him with the bottles and pumping afterwards.

And I try to read advice on the internet about how to make this more manageable. I want to read other mother's experiences. What I consistently find is lactivists piping in asking why use formula at all? Have you tried Fenugreek? Have you called a lactation specialist? Breast is best! None of which is remotely helpful.

Then there's the fact I'm not a baby person. I love children. I think they're great. I love spending time with kids, hours on end. I enjoyed babysitting as a teenager and I was good at it. I didn't choose to have a baby for the experience of having a baby. I'm doing this for a child one day. Caring for a baby is exhausting and demanding. I knew it would be hard, but living through it is the only way to really appreciate the fatigue.

I'm looking forward to going back to work. Mostly I think my son would be better off in a daycare through the week. I feel like I'm not the best place for him day in and day out. I'm not cut out for this. At a daycare he'd have a solid routine, socialization, a rotation of toys and caregivers who are talented, educated and experienced in his age group. Then in the evening he'd be with his dad and me, we'd have quality time and then on the weekends we would be able to have fun together. Working from home would help me stay on top of housework too, freeing up time at night like I used to be able to.

There just seems to be something unmotherly about this feeling that I'm biding my time till Jack is a child. The thought of hearing him call me "Mommy" brings tears to my eyes. But I'm so grateful to women who have the guts to share things like the above article. There's too many loud voices telling mothers to cherish every moment. There needs to be more saying, "It's okay to feel inadequate and bored with certain stages. It's normal and it doesn't make you a bad mother."

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