Today I’m linking up for the first time as a Company Girl. Today was a pretty big day. Pie and I went to our first La Leche League meeting, and while I enjoyed the time with other moms, the meeting was pretty uninteresting. In fact after the leader tried to get people talking a little, the meeting ended up splintering into 5 different private conversations. I don’t know if that’s what’s supposed to happen, but the leader seemed a little lost. I may try to find another meeting to go to and see if I like it. La Leche League is something I want to love. I love it in theory. I just wasn’t that impressed with that meeting. I’ll try it again though.
I went into the meeting with only one question – why people recommend starting solids with rice cereal. It doesn’t make sense to me to feed a baby processed, packaged food as their first food. Most of the baby books seem to recommend that, and our new pediatrician gave us the go ahead to start whenever we wanted to. He said most people start with rice cereal and then start with yellow vegetables, then green. Even the Baby Book recommends rice cereal as one of the early foods. Aside from the iron, why? I didn’t really get a good answer, except that it’s easy and cheap for parents, and that you don’t have to start with rice cereal. A lot of moms started with avocado, and although The Baby Book recommends applesauce, pears and bananas as other good started foods, I want to hold off on the sweet until she gets a taste for veggies. I may try making some rice slurry, too.
Did I mention that I love our new pediatrician? He’s a family friend, so I’ve known him for years. He has a busy practice, but he spent much more time with us than any other doctor has. He is personally on call 24/7. His staff is wonderful, and he has a little food bank in his office. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a doctor’s office that had a food bank for his patients. We talked about using natural toys instead of light-up noise makers. He is the first doctor who didn’t seem disapproving of our co-sleeping.
Anyhow, I feel like LLL could be better than the meeting I attended. I want to love it. I did meet another new mom, and we talked about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and baby wearing. We do all of these things with the Pie, although cloth diapering less religiously than the rest. I haven’t yet fallen in love with cloth diapering. I use cloth at home as much as I can, but I haven’t found the perfect diaper/cover combination that makes me want to go all the way. We still have leaks & poonamis, and I’m not really willing to spend a huge amount of money experimenting. It’s a struggle when I want to love something but just can’t.
After our meeting, my amazing friend Carlie came over to visit. We started talking about finding our purpose – the thing in our lives that makes us most fulfilled. I’ve spent my adult life doing things I enjoy, but I haven’t really felt like I found my thing. I’m passionate about a lot of the things I’m involved with, but there isn’t that one thing that makes me feel completely fulfilled. I realized when Carlie was here that being honest about what it’s like to be a mom and helping other new moms through those early struggles may be my purpose.
I spent a lot of time today talking about what it was really like for me as a new mom. It wasn’t always great. People expect you to be thrilled and elated every minute as a new mom. People always ask “isn’t she the best thing that’s ever happened to you?”, and until she was about three months old I couldn’t honestly say yes. I felt guilty – like I must be a bad mom – for not feeling elated about it every minute of every day. And why is it that every time someone is about to admit that there are un-pleasantries involved in motherhood, they always preface it with “Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. BUT…”?
I hate that preface. I hate the fact that moms feel the need to convince people that they love their kids before saying anything remotely negative, or expressing difficulties they’ve had adjusting to motherhood. It’s certainly not all negative, but it sure isn’t all puppies and glitter either. It’s not even all babies and glitter.
The adjustment is hard, and even though I knew what I was getting into it was a challenge. I missed my mountain man, missed our old relationship. There were days when I got in bed crying and exhausted, and my mountain man tried to be with me and comfort me. We talked about the adjustment and I told him I was having a hard time with my changed role, feeling like I had lost myself as an individual in this whole motherhood thing.
Even when I was telling him how overwhelmed I was, how I missed our relationship, and how hard it was for me to feel like I was being a good mom, I didn’t say the big thing.
I couldn’t say out loud that I wasn’t sure if this had been a good idea.
I couldn’t say it because I was pretty sure I couldn’t handle it if he told me he felt the same way.
I found that taking a nap during the day made me a better mama, and much better able to handle everything. If I could be a little bit rested, a fussy baby at 8pm didn’t seem like the end of the world.
With the turmoil of the adjustment to motherhood over, with being more able to come to terms with my new life, and with my Pie interacting with me more, I no longer feel like I may have made the wrong decision. But for a while I thought that I might have, and I want to say it out loud because I think it’s normal. It wasn’t postpartum depression, it was just a normal part of my adjustment. I think it’s normal to not be sure if you love your baby right away. I think it’s normal to feel like you’re not bonded with your baby right away. I think it’s normal to not always be sure if you’re reading her cues. I think it’s normal, and I’m saying it out loud because when I needed to hear it, it didn’t seem like anyone else was.
And I’m not prefacing it with “Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids” because I don’t need to. I love her (now, for sure) but that doesn’t change anything about how hard it was. And I don’t need to justify, minimize or explain away my experiences.
In all my wandering, I’ve always been serving a purpose. I’ve helped women move beyond homelessness and become self sufficient. I’ve helped grow Vaudeville theater in Seattle. I’ve helped girls find their voices. I’ve helped to strengthen PTAs across the state. But I’ve never truly served my own purpose, and I think my purpose might be to help moms feel more secure, more normal in the tumult of early motherhood – in part by being honest about my own experiences.