Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stuff We're Not Supposed to Talk About . . .

Several posts ago I was having one of my moments.  (Read all about it here.)  You know, when I’m all frustrated and tired and feeling like a horrible mother.  My friend Steve forwarded a video to me, and it really struck a chord.

First, a little about Steve.  Steve will be in the same room with you for an hour and not say a word, then he’ll utter one sentence and it’ll be the funniest damn thing you’ve ever heard.  When we met in college, he was the quiet observer with a wicked sense of humor.  He’s that guy who you know is there but you’re not sure he’s paying attention, and then he says something witty and prophetic.  The video he forwarded is smart, funny, and painstakingly honest.  Wouldn’t you know it; Steve’s got some insight about parenting that he gleaned from something he saw on

Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman reveal four parenting facts that no one ever talks about.  I have certainly struggled with my feelings of incompetence and the thought that I’m doing it wrong if I don’t see sunshine and Care Bears for the 14 hours my children are awake.  The video is 17 minutes long, which is why I am only getting to it now even though Steve sent it months ago.  Because if I have 17 minutes to myself, I’m going to waste it spend it doing something productive, like watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey talk about how cleeassy they are. 

My gift to you, fellow mommies, random daddies, friends who feel obligated to read, and facebook stalkers, is this . . .

My unsolicited opinion regarding Griscom and Volkman’s Four Taboos:

  1. You Can’t Say You Didn’t Fall in Love with Your Baby in the First Minute.
I wish someone had told me about this one, because I felt like a big failure from Day 1 because I didn’t have the urge to hold my baby every second of the ever-lovin’ day.  I needed some sleep.  Desperately.  And the truth is that you don’t even know this little person yet.  Yes, you love him but you are essentially strangers.  Furthermore, our birthday movie wouldn’t look anything like someone in Hollywood or at Lifetime television would produce.  I had read in all the what-to-expect books about how common it is for Daddy to feel jealous of Baby.  Guess what?  I was jealous.  I had carried this kid around for 9 months, I had unsuccessfully tried to squeeze him out, and now I was all drugged up from my surgery.  And guess who was getting all the attention?  It wasn’t me. 

  1. You Can’t Talk About How Lonely Having a Baby Can Be.
Motherhood is isolating.  Before you become a parent, you know intellectually that having an infant (and then a toddler, preschooler, school-aged child, teenager, 30-year-old loner living in your basement, etc.) will suck up almost all of your time, but you don’t really realize yet that you have just been knocked to the bottom of the pecking order.  I got a lot of attention while I was pregnant and when the baby was first born, but then life moved on, and it moved on without me.  While my girlfriends went back to work in September, I stayed home and watched six seasons of Dawson’s Creek.  I counted the days until I could meet them on Friday afternoons for coffee with my baby in tow.  I cried one day when something came up and I was unable to go at the last minute.  I cried.  Because I couldn’t go get coffee.  (Okay, maybe that’s not a good example, given my love of caffeine, but you get the point.)  I still have my lonely days when it feels like I haven’t spoken to anyone over 4-feet-tall; and suffice it to say that none of our conversations revolve around politics, religion, or the Kardashians . . . so yes, I'm lonely.

  1. You Can’t Talk About Your Miscarriage.
I have struggled with this one myself.  We waited the "requisite" 3 months before telling others that we were expecting.  I remember a conversation with my dad, however, when he asked why we had waited to long to tell them our big news.  I tried to explain the whole first trimester iffiness, to which he responded that it was kind of silly to not tell our close friends or family because if something went wrong with the pregnancy, wouldn’t we tell them anyway?  Lo and behold, he was right.  When I called to tell him about my first miscarriage and he said, “I didn’t even know you were pregnant,” it didn’t make it any easier.  My biggest burden was getting over that nagging feeling that I had done something wrong; I hadn’t rested enough, I hadn’t eaten the right things, I had had a drink before I realized I was pregnant.  What eased my burden was talking about it and getting some sympathy from friends.  I didn’t need people to feel sorry for me, but it was a strange comfort to have girlfriends say hey, I’ve been there too.  It IS a tough situation to have to endure, and it happens a lot.  So why does it have to be so private?
Don't worry, Mommy'll clean it up.
She lives for that sh*t.

  1. You Can’t Say That Your “Average Happiness” Has Declined.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: my babies are not snuggly, calm, precious Gerber babies who look like they belong in a Johnson & Johnson ad.  They are dirty, snotty, little sofa climbers who track dirt all through our house and somehow produce more laundry than they have clothes. It makes sense that my happiness quotient, on average, has declined.  I don’t find happiness in the bottom of the laundry basket, and yet that’s where I seem to look for it every day.  I don’t walk out of my house every day and cry with sheer joy that I am blessed with the opportunity to drive my Swagger Wagon to Costco so I can stock up on juice boxes and industrial-sized boxes of baby wipes.  And while the other company spouses are relaxing with a glass of wine and a gourmet meal in a restaurant with cloth napkins and real silverware, I am not secretly relieved that I get to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in May, again.  That’s not to say that I am miserable or UNhappy.  It’s just that I don’t often get to do the things that I enjoy, like traveling sans the Goldfish big box, going to a movie that isn’t produced by Pixar, or drinking from a glass that doesn’t require a straw.  

Griscom and Volkman don’t offer any solutions in the segment that I watched, but they certainly raised some valid points about parenting reality.  I appreciate their candor and their honesty about their struggles and their humor while suggesting that no parent is perfect.  Amen to that!

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Be nice, kids.