I owe an apology to all my mom friends out there. Ok, apologies to dads too, but this one’s especially for the mothers. Not only did I not realize how exhausting it is to raise another human being, I also did not realize how badly I was silently judging moms for things that I now understand. I only hope my mom friends didn’t know I was judging them, and if they did, that they’ll now forgive me for doing so, because believe me, now I get it.
I finally understand the glories of going to Target with a baby in tow in the stroller. It’s a way to get out of the house, get errands done because they sell so many different things, things that we do and don’t intend to buy as we kill time perusing each aisle, and it’s a way to lull a baby into sleep through the car ride and stroller ride. And there’s usually a Starbucks inside. How did I not see all these positive aspects of Target before and how could I have made fun of anyone else who too thoroughly enjoyed these things?
I apologize for not realizing how valuable it was for me to watch my friends’ baby for even just a few minutes while they got a simple task done like showering or tidying up their home. Friends would hand their baby off to me and disappear, which used to rub me the wrong way, but now I understand why. If someone else is holding Paavo, as much as I’d like to stand there and use my time to watch them holding him, I want to use that precious time to switch the laundry, empty the dishwasher, put on deodorant…the list goes on. Not only should I have offered to hold my friends’ babies more often and for longer periods of time, I should have never judged them for passing their baby off to me so they have their hands free for even a few glorious minutes. I’ll admit, I got nervous around other people’s babies (and still do), so I’m guilty of this one big time. I now savor every moment someone else will hold Paavo while I accomplish a small life task and I’m sorry it took so long for me to understand this.
Speaking of tidying up, I’m sorry for ever judging a mom’s messy home. Dishes in the sink, toys everywhere, laundry backing up…yep, I’ve definitely sat amidst all this chaos and wondered why it was so hard to keep a home clean. It actually makes me laugh to think about it, especially because our home seems to get dirty on a daily, if not hourly basis. I only have one kid and a husband to help clean up and I’m still overwhelmed by keeping a clean house.
I also apologize for ever feeling miffed about my mom friends not responding to my texts or emails. Looking back, I’m actually impressed by the responses I did receive. These days, while I’m thrilled to get texts and emails, they also feel like a small burden, something to add to my never ending to-do list to respond to. It’s usually only a brief moment that I feel that burden, but still, it adds to the pile of a list that only seems to grow, and so I’m sorry for being annoyed when I received a delayed response.
These next two are big ones that I feel the most need to apologize for. I have been living the baby life 24/7 for over seven weeks. I live it, breathe it, think it, dream it…even smell it (dried breastmilk, anyone?). I can think of hardly anything other than baby, I’m reading a baby book, and therefore all I talk about is baby. I am now that person that really does only talk about their kid, only shows pictures of their kid, and oftentimes forgets to ask about the person on the other end of the conversation. And speaking of conversations, I used to be annoyed by my mom friends who had distracted/disjointed conversations. I would yearn for them to finish just one train of thought so we could have a conversation that didn’t feel like a pinball machine, our conversation bouncing so quickly from one topic to another that I could barely keep up. I find the need to apologize for this because now that I have mom brain, I can barely finish a thought without having another one distract me, and when it feels like I have a real start-to-finish conversation, I want to pat myself on the back to celebrate.
I’ve also learned the art of eating quickly, something I scoffed at before kids. “How could parents eat so fast? Don’t they want to enjoy their meals?” Hah! I’ve finally seen the error in my ways. I now scarf down a plate of food as I watch Paavo out of the corner of my eye in his baby box or as he squirms in my lap, as if he knows I’m not really paying attention to him as I hold him. If he starts stirring from a nap as I eat, I think to myself, “Please stay asleep so I can finish this plate. Just give me 2 minutes and I can get it all down!” I’d like to say I still eat food for enjoyment, but lately it’s simply been about taking in necessary calories.
Whew. That feels better. Now that I’ve apologized for how I acted in the past, I feel like I can move on and become the mother that I silently judged before. I’ll no longer feel guilty as I sip my Starbucks and look at discount kitchenware at Target, I pass Paavo to an unsuspecting friend for a quick 10 minute blitz of housework, I let that housework slide right back into its naturally messy state, I wait until the 4am feeding to respond to texts and emails, I do my best to have a complete, adult conversation about something other than baby (but I won’t be surprised if I fail), and as I shovel in a quick bite, knowing that someday I’ll miss all these moments where a tiny human being just wants to be fed, cleaned and most of all, held in my arms. It will all go too fast and I’m realizing that in order to savor it, I need to be easier on not only myself, but also all the other moms trying their best to succeed at this demanding job.
What thoughtful writing…I’d love to assure you that “this too shall pass”, but the excrutiating truth for me is that this level of attention to child only changed its character as my children aged and the caretaking morphed to psycho/social or educational needs rather than primitive physical needs. The good news is friends and family still get your struggle and come through. p.s. to you and Matt – I don’t start my Swedish residency until Feb. 29, so if you want someone to spend time with Paavo while you reconnect with your life before baby, just let me know!
Thanks for the insights Kim – From the moment I found out I was pregnant, and especially now, I thought to myself, “I’m going to worry about this little guy’s well-being for the rest of my life,” and so far that has been very true. I don’t worry all the time, but I can certainly see how I will always be trying to meet his needs. And thank you for the offer to watch him. We’d love for you to stop by and visit and catch up, even if we’re home and just running around the house to get stuff done while you watch him!
So very Happy to see your Beautiful Family!!!!!! It was so nice to meet Stop Watch and Optimise, at the Sula County Store, Sula Montana!!!__Can’t wait to meet the future Hiker!!!! God Bless…. Stop in and see me if you get through the Bitterroot!___ love
Tell Optimise, I will cook unlimited Loaded Hash Browns!!!_
Thanks Lori! I still remember that morning at the Country Store. I was tired and grumpy when I woke, and then I rambled into the store only to see your smiling face, and to learn that you already knew Stopwatch and me! You made our day there so memorable and special. Thanks for continuing to stay in touch with us. I’m already looking forward to taking you up on the loaded hash browns next time we come through. Our little hiker Paavo has got to see the Bitterroot so we know we’ll be back!
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. And remember what I told you is the best advice you will ever receive about being a mom – Don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. And this applies to momhood. Hugs to you all.
Hugs right back at you Karla. Sorry we haven’t been able to visit since the trail. We’d like for Paavo to learn how to ski (I think this winter was a little early) and hike, so it won’t be too long before we’re out there again.
Here from Section Hiker…
Oh man, I get it! I was in those throes in the fall of 2014.
It gets better…it does!! (it also gets different, too!) And yes, Target really is a good respite.
Julie and Matt,
Just thought I’d finally take some time to see how you guys are doing in the new Paavo era.
Ann Marie and I read your apology and we see that you have adjusted very well to parenthood. We knew you would.
It’s nice to see the pictures and smiles and to know that all is well.
I’ll try to check in more often, but as you know, being responsible for other humans is a daunting task and we too are caregivers for three of our grandkids two days a week.
It’s great and we love it.
All stay healthy and hearty and we’ll check back soon.
Dan and Annmarie
Thanks Dan and Annmarie. It’s only been 103 days but it has definitely been an adventure so far! I can see why you’re busy with three twice a week and why you love it. Thanks for checking in. We’ll be in touch next time we’re in Chicago.