Thursday 22 March 2012

Because Babies Don't Keep

* This post is sponsored by Smart Mom Jewelry. All opinions are are entirely mine. 

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Mac had three teeth pop through last week. That makes a grand total of six (only fourteen left to go). 

The poor kid had a tough week. For several days he clung to me like my body was his life raft in the middle of a choppy ocean storm. I am happy to be his safe place. After his traumatic birth, and the deafening silence that followed, I am always grateful for the sound of his cries. And there were plenty of them last week. He has his Auntie Tata by the heart and she was desperate to help him. 

Mac and his Auntie Tata
She brought home a Teething Bling necklace for me to try. So we rocked and he chewed on the teether-turned-pendant around my neck.

And that’s what I wanted to write about today. My gratitude and the way my heart swells with every noise he makes. But the truth is that I also wanted to sit down and write this post so that I could pass off the (now less miserable) baby to my wife and take a bit of a break. I love that holding him close while the tiny, razor sharp, teeth wreak havoc in his mouth can ease his pain. But I’m also glad when the little buggers finally break through so that I can catch-up on laundry and take a bath.  Which is where I am right now. So the post I planned to write felt a little inauthentic. 

Mama I don't want all these toys. I just want you to pick me up.
As I sat down to let y’all see the inside of my heart the poem above was running through my head. It’s a sweet sentiment isn’t it? Ignore the mopping and the laundry. Let the dishes sit dirty in the sink. Rock your baby because babies don’t keep. It gives moms permission to let all that “other stuff” go because

Reading that is likely to make you feel one of two ways: relief that the state of your floors is indicative of your good parenting or guilt that the state of your floors is indicative of your neglectful parenting. Or maybe you are that special parent who doesn’t feel guilt. In which case, congratulations – you are rocking this whole parenting thing! Unfortunately, the rest of us are often left drowning in guilt as the image of a perfect parent feels increasingly out of reach.

As a new mom I am constantly reminded that these days will fly by faster than I can imagine. I listen to these pieces of advice and offer my thanks to the wise women and men who have come before me. I can see the nostalgia in their eyes and often the regret. Oh what I would give for one more day with my not-yet-grown-child their half-smiles seem to whisper. I tuck their reminders into my heart and promise to enjoy the day they wish they could relive. I know my baby won’t keep and I do what I can to not take that for granted. I rock him gently and stroke his head as he chomps away at the teether around my neck. The day fades away and I know I’ve accomplished something important.

But the truth is that sometimes other things are more important. [Shock! Gasp!] Sometimes that email needs responding to, those dishes need washing or that one more chapter of the Hunger Games needs reading. And here’s the real shocker – THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A BAD PARENT. Rocking a baby can be pure bliss (and it can sometimes be boring and uncomfortable if it’s the end of a cry-filled day) but that laundry won’t fold itself and you can’t pay your mortgage with cuddles. Try not cleaning your house for the first year of your child’s life and see how many Parent-of-the-Year awards end up on your doorstep.

Sometimes the TV can actually make a decent babysitter when dinner needs to be made. Sometimes it’s OK to pretend the line-up at the grocery store was unusually long because you wanted to play a few more minutes of Settlers of Catan on your iphone in the parking lot (I mean, hypothetically of course. Tracy, that was a seriously long line yesterday!) And sometimes Mama needs a decent bubble bath. Or, at least, I think all of those things are OK. You might disagree. That's OK too.

I’m starting to let go of the need to be constantly present in each and every moment of my son’s life. Of course, I could easily spend an hour memorizing the way the tops of his cheeks dimple when that infectious smile spreads across his face. And I’m the mom who regularly wears and rocks her baby during naptime. But I’m also the mom who takes bubble baths, occasionally drinks her coffee hot while the Jumperoo and Baby Einstein babysit her child and does her best to keep the sink clear of dirty dishes.

I’m starting to realize that it’s not an all or nothing proposition. I can ignore blog writing and focus on my baby’s first swing one day and head out of the house to just be away from all the sweet cuddling the next day. And I don't think that I am a bad parent on either of those days. 

I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend my days with my young son. And on the teething days I cherish the fact that he needs me because I know a day will come when I will want nothing more. I let the laundry sit in a pile and I ignore the dust bunny in the corner. And then as dusk turns to dawn you can find me in the kitchen washing the dishes while Mac entertains himself. Because babies don’t keep but sometimes they are fine to just chill out.

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  1. Well said! And great advice for a soon-to-be-mom!

  2. I'm just learnign this now on my third baby ... you are way ahead of the game.. I used to think that I had to be at Every event, every moment of my childs life to be a great mom... I'm now seeing that it's okay to take a little time for myself and that makes me a great mom too... Love your stories.. Mac is a VERY lucky little man :)

  3. I'm a mom for the second time, which makes you cherish those moments even more. You remember how quickly it went by, and just want to hold onto it. I needed this post today, thank you :-)

  4. Your post remind me of this one which made the circuit a few months ago. Apologies if you have already read it.

  5. So, so true. I know I'm constantly feeling 'Mommy guilt' over what I could, should and want to do. On my worst days, it seems like no matter what I do (cuddle Kirra, do the dishes or just take some 'me' time), I feel guilty that I'm not doing the other thing. Bah!

    Thanks for the reminder that life is full of compromises and it's up to each individual to determine what *actually* needs doing at any given moment, and that we should not feel guilty for it.

    As an aside, it seems like moms are hardest on themselves and other moms, when we should be the most compassionate to ourselves and others.

  6. Thank you for this post. I'm dealing with a lot of the same feelings as you are, and I'm trying to find a good balance, but there's always that underlying guilt...

  7. Bad Mama? No. Wise Mama? Yes.

  8. It's good to see that you've already realized this and Mac isn't a year yet! Good job!

  9. I so needed this today! Thank-you.

  10. I had the full length Ruth Hulbert Hamilton poem hanging by my front door when my kids were small, just to remind visitors not to judge if my house wasn't white-glove ready. Have you ever seen the entire poem? It's awesome. And you're right, we DO need to find balance every day. It's a tough thing to figure out sometimes, but I think if we follow our child's cues and don't ignore how WE'RE feeling and what WE need to be good moms, then we're on the right track. Great post, Kristin.

  11. Let's not aim to be Good Mamas. Let's aim to be Chill Mamas. Why? Because in my mind, it's okay for a Chill Mama to say, "You wanna hold my kid? Great! While you do that I'm just going to go sit on the couch and play some Scramble With Friends real quick."


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