As sort of a follow-up to my last post, I feel like I should be doing so many things that I’m not. I should be following an eat, play, sleep routine, which I do most of the time, but sometimes I just let her sleep after eating. I should be putting her down at least once a day for a nap in her crib to get her used to it so that transitioning her there will be easier, but she almost exclusively naps in my arms, her wrap, or her swing. I should be getting her to do 30 minutes of tummy time a day, but it’s more like 0-5 minutes (however much she can handle before fussing). . . . If you read baby blogs, books, and forums, or if you compare yourself to other mothers, it is easy to feel like you are falling short. There are so many theories and pieces of advice out there, much of them conflicting. Again, being type A, I am prone to perfectionism and I get caught up in worrying that I’m missing some key activity and L’s development will be stunted because of it. It’s ludicrous really! I mean, there is no such thing as perfect parenting and you can’t do it all. And just because something worked for one baby does not mean it will work for mine. But knowing that what I do now shapes L’s future is a very heavy responsibility. It is a responsibility that I want, very much, but it can be overwhelming, especially for a person like me.
* warning: if you are trying to conceive, this post may be a trigger
Being type A and a new mom does not mix well in my opinion. I am used to having it together and accomplishing what I set my mind to. Now I feel like I make mistake after mistake when it comes to figuring out what L needs and wants. Despite what the baby websites and books say, I have not figured out different cries. The only difference I can recognize is her really mad cry but I couldn’t tell you why she’s mad with certainty much of the time.
I know babies cry, it’s normal but after reading up on how to read baby’s cues and the importance of making her feel secure and cared for during this incredibly impressionable and important developmental stage, I often feel like if she cries for more than a minute or two that I am permanently scarring her and providing material for years of therapy. In my darkest moments, I worry that she will feel abandoned by me for not anticipating her needs/reading the early cues (which I swear are often absent). I am always wondering if I am over or under stimulating her. And although she generally loves her swing, I worry that I am being a lazy mom if she is in there for long, especially if I am trying not to engage with her in an attempt to get her to unwind and nap.
I know she isn’t even 3 months old but it feels like so long ago that I was still pregnant. I feel like I should have it together better by now. I feel like other mothers do. I feel like we should be able to go on tons of outings, join classes, and have a set schedule. Instead, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed by the thought of leaving the house and although we have a routine of sorts, the timing changes day by day depending on if she sleeps through the night. Everyone says it gets easier with time and there are such great days that I start to think that we’ve turned a corner, but then we have another string of fussy, hard days and it feels like we’re regressing. It’s hard not to feel discouraged. Realistically, I know there will be many changes and developments over this first year (and in the years thereafter) and while many things will get easier, new challenges will arise. Hopefully, I’ll feel better equipped for the new challenges. Right now though, when I am trying to take things day by day, it can be exhausting and frustrating. I am used to following a linear path toward the future and this experience is more of a winding road.