Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Veteran of war? No. Parenting.

One day, at the mommy-baby support group I was at, I was talking to another mother about the whole baby blues thing and how it's affected me (and other moms), as well as how I love the hell out of my little Benevolent Dictator.

If I remember correctly, she said something along the lines of "That's so brave of you."

I got to thinking about that, and really, the more I think about it, it's not a matter of bravery. It's that I had no choice in the matter. There is no retreat. There's surrender (hell, I give in to her every day it seems like), but there's no retreat from the battlefield.

We all hear the same tired parenting pablum about how you don't realize how strong, brave, patient you are until you have kids. Well, it's true, but what they also don't mention is that you don't realize how weak, impatient and angry you can get at times. Much like natural disasters, war, plagues and other catastrophes, you don't realize the extremes until you're there.

I've had bad days. I remember leaving BD (when she was about two months old) alone for 10 minutes crying hysterically so I could lay down and get some rest. I remember screaming into pillows. I remember fantasizing about running away so I could get some solid sleep. OK, I still fantasize about the last bit -- except now it's just an overnighter to Chicago and a lot of cocktails and visiting with friends.

But there's been incredible sweetness too in the teeny-tiny moments. How brown her eyes are and how intense her stare can be as she takes in everything. How she squeals with happiness when she sees people she loves. How she's just missing putting finger food in her mouth. There's some intense bonding going on and it's really sweet.

I've noticed now that I'm more sympathetic to Britney and her whole parenting fiasco. Stories about parents who snap because their child WON'T. STOP. CRYING. make me sigh in sadness and pity for the parent. I can identify with the exhaustion, the desire to leave and being a hair's breadth away from doing something stupid (thankfully Jeff's there to give me a break) in the early months. I feel bad for those parents because I wonder if they had support or good coping skills.

I feel lucky at times. I feel lucky that I've got good support -- not just from this group, my counselor/therapist/advisor/thingie -- but also friends, family and Jeff. I feel lucky that I got a sweet kid that's really easy-going in nature and very forgiving of her mother's mistakes. I got really lucky. And for that, I'm really thankful.

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