Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Best Bad Day of my Mothering Career

I've been thinking a lot about one particular day from Clare's infancy. I wasn't blogging then, and at the time, I probably wouldn't have written about it beyond, maybe, in passing. I certainly wouldn't have written about it the same way I see things now.

Clare was not an easy baby. She was a little bit colicky. She was a lot fussy. We could fake it well from wake-up until mid-afternoon, which things would start tumbling downhill quickly. We would then spend hours nursing and bouncing and crying and desperately trying to calm her. She was also a spit-up prodigy -- but was deemed a happy spitter, so all we could do was wait for her to outgrow it. On top of it, at about 1 month, she had what I thought was a bad case of baby acne.

You can see the rash forming on her poor little cheeks.

On the day in question, things were particularly bad. Clare was just about 1 month and was mad as heck and not going to take it anymore. Nothing was working. Every time I nursed, she would start screaming and spit it all up. We must have changed her diaper a million times. A billion minutes of burping attempts. Gas drops. Gripe water. White noise. Walking. Rocking. Bouncing. Singing. Swinging. Swaying. The other two blasted Ss. You name it, we tried it. It.just.was.not.working.

Finally, at about the 4 hour mark, I lost it. I couldn't do it anymore. I knew that the poor thing just needed to sleep and wasn't giving in. Something must be wrong. Clearly, I was a horrible mother. I was exhausted and incompetent. I couldn't even soothe my own daughter. The tears began to flow.

That was the point when Charles stepped in. He put the baby in the swing. He put me on the patio with a glass of wine. He convinced me that letting the baby cry for a minute while he comforted me would be okay. Then he went inside and helped with the baby while I got some fresh air and relaxed. Finally she fell asleep and I went to bed and life went on.

The next day, we took a first-time-parents' trip to the pediatrician. In addition to reassurance about the reflux and the colicky disposition, we were encouraged to put something on the terrible rash. We stopped at the drugstore on our way home and bought a variety of lotions and potions. Once we put some Aveeno for Eczema on that rash, the poor girl relaxed and slept longer and deeper than she had in days -- maybe ever.

On the surface, it's the story of a bad day for new parents.

Looking back though, I learned the most important lesson I have as a mom. I learned to relax. As much as I would like to believe the contrary, I am not in complete control. Sometimes, I can do everything "right" and things still won't work out perfectly. Motherhood doesn't leave room for perfectionism. No matter what the outward appearance or blog or the Instagram feed tells you, we all have wounds and struggles and battle scars. We all have successes and failures. We're good enough and we fall far short.

That's parenthood, for better or for worse.

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