Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What I Never Expected

Way back in the day before I had children, I thought I knew a lot about the little creatures.

I had always enjoyed being the "mama" while playing house with my friends, imaginary and not. I always took care of the little kids and gravitated to babies like bees on honey.

Naturally, by the time I was eleven, I was a full-fledged babysitter. As a parent, it's hard for me to imagine that I was babysitting other people's kids (newborns, even!) in the 6th grade, but I was, often.

My babysitting career paved the way to what I considered to be my first "real" job (working at the fair, picking berries and doing jobs for family members don't count as real jobs) in high school at the Y.M.C.A., where I worked with kids of all ages.

During my first two summers home from college, I was a nanny.

So, I thought I had this whole "kid" thing figured out and my "A" in Elementary Education only bolstered my confidence when it came to knowing about and understanding children. The constant remarks by people that I would "make a great mom" only fed this illusion I had.

And then I had my first child.

I remember bringing McRae home from the hospital, trying to ween myself from the painkillers that the doctor was insisting I need after my c-section, and agonizing over their affect on my nursing baby. I examined every single thing I put in my mouth, for fear that somehow I'd poison this tiny creature that I was supposed to be taking care of.

When we brought McRae home, it was March. I turned the heat up to 80 because I was afraid that my baby would get too cold after living inside my body for 10 months. How in the world do babies keep warm? We lived in a self-inflicted sauna for more than a month, until I eased up a bit about it. Luckily, he survived.

I wrote detailed notes at every single diaper change, as well as each feeding (making sure to say which breast he drank from or how many ounces of a bottle he had).

I read countless books about babies and the care for them, keeping myself awake at all hours trying to remember the information I'd spilled into my head.

I idolized the women I knew who had already been down this path, taking each precious nugget of wisdom they offered like it was gold, filing it into my "mommy info" file in my brain. Although I was one of the first of my group of friends to become a mother, I asked them question after question about everything from which type of diaper to use to when they thought I should introduce rice cereal.

I was a mess.

I thought I'd be perfect. I thought I'd know what to do. I thought I'd have all the answers.

Fact is, when I look back on the very early days of motherhood, I can't believe how insecure and alone I felt, despite all of my "experience."

I expected that I would know everything and, as it turned out, the only thing I knew for sure was that I loved my baby and would do anything in the world for him.

That feeling was undeniable.

My first steps into the role of "mommy" seem like they happened so long ago. My oldest will be attending middle school next year and my youngest only has one more year of preschool left before starting kindergarten.

I've definitely logged some years in.

But now, I can honestly say that it is easier, this whole "motherhood" thing. And this community here, the voices of the newly-crowned mothers as well as the well-seasoned ones who may even be grandmothers, are a part of that.

I cannot imagine how helpful this online community (and online shopping, but I digress) would have been for me eleven years ago. How comforting it would have been to write about my worries and concerns or even just the insanity that comes after so many, many nights without sleep, and to have people say that "it'll be okay" and "you'll get through this." To be able to pour your heart out when you don't know how to move your baby from a bassinet to a crib or how to soothe him without a pacifier. Or just how to get through each new day without crying.

That's not to say that my family and friends weren't helpful, they were and I cannot imagine getting through life without them, but this community, the blogosphere, and the women, men, and parents, who look after it, are such a gift.

And I still don't know what I'm doing, and that's okay, because I know that whether it's midnight, six in the morning, or a holiday, I can read about other people, parents and not, who don't know what they're doing either.

And somehow, that makes it all better.

Thank You.


Girlplustwo said...

ah, yes. sister, this is exactly, exactly it.

i too wish i had you all when M was first born, i so desperately needed this then and simply didn't know.

flutter said...

I feel so blessed to have you all before kids.

I really do.

Beth Cotell said...

What a great post and so, so true!

painted maypole said...

oh, this community is so great, and I, too, wish I had had it from the very beginning

Family Adventure said...

Sorry...you wrote this lovely, moving post, and all I could do was stare at your new banner. Which is AWESOME! You've got some cute kids there, my friend.

And they have a fantastic mother!


Unknown said...

Same to you!

Becky at lifeoutoffocus said...

and we thank you too:) i was so insecure and alone and overwhelmed when i had hannah. so much has changed since then!

Carrie said...

Great post- I feel the same way- everyone who blogs about her life as a mom has been so helpful to me in my new journey. I cant imagine what I would have done without all the great mom blogs!

And I love reading your blog and following your journey, thanks for your honesty and openness with us.

Cynthia said...

Feel the same way here!

Lisa said...

You are so right. The mom-o-sphere is a wonderful thing. :-)

Pennies In My Pocket said...

This is an awesome post!! WOW!!

I felt like you were writing about me and my baby/child 'wisdom' before having a baby ... oh and this part, "As a parent, it's hard for me to imagine that I was babysitting other people's kids (newborns, even!) in the 6th grade, but I was, often." -- OMGOSH, seriously! I could NEVER imagine letting a 6th grader babysit! I was 10 when I started and even though I was completely trustworthy, reliable and smart, I'd never let a 10 year old babysit! lol


OHmommy said...

Oh how I needed this community 6 years ago. It might have helped. We might have learned that it wasn't necessary to keep the heat at 80 degrees. Yes? I did that too!

Kellan said...

What a wonderful post Carrie. I feel the same way. I wish I had found all of your all 15 years ago - at the beginning of my motherhood journey - to help me and also that I might have had all these same precious moments to share the lives of my children those many years ago. It is a gift - isn't it - it is a gift!! Thank you too - my friend - you are a gift in my life. Your words of wisdom - your beautiful writing and stories - your friendship - thank you. Kellan

Amanda said...

So, so true!

3XMom said...

so true!! It really does take a village, and I'm glad we have such a great one here online!