It has taken me a long time to adjust to being a parent. I would say that I only felt fully transitioned two months ago (interesting as that is when my son finally started sleeping through the night). I was a full-time stay at home mom for the 1st nine months of our son's life and through that time I battled not one, but TWO bouts of post-partum depression (does that count as post-partum if I went through it twice?). Both my hubby and my mom burnt throught many sick days trying to help me out.
I know why this happened. I am the oldest of 8 children. I am 24 years older than the youngest, so I know babies. I can change a diaper, put together a bottle, pop in a binkie, I'm not afraid to hold a newborn, I know what to do about diaper rash. So I didn't bother to plan. I am not from this area and didn't find the need to create relationships with women who I could call in a crisis. I didn't look ahead to ways I could give myself a break. I didn't find a way to become close with my MIL who only lives 10 minutes from my house. I didn't think in general about even NEEDING a break. And then add in no sleep - I was a wreck. I have felt more guilt in the past 17 months of my life than I ever dreamt possible. I felt guilty going out for 2 hours, guilty I couldn't revel in motherhood, guilty when I lost my temper, guilty when I couldn't look as nice as the other moms in church, guilty when I had hit the wall and my mom had to take the little man overnight to give me a break.
And then last weekend happened. The hubs and I flew to Florida for a wedding. It was two glorious days in which we ate our meals slowly, took our time strolling the beach, and the hubby could even have a couple of beers at the reception. It rained almost the entire time, but we didn't care, we were parents on a break! We only took Friday and Saturday as I didn't know if I could handle three days away. By Friday evening I started to feel that ache in my heart and on Saturday I cried on the beach after I gave a sea urchin we found to a family with two children. Why you ask? Because somehow these two school aged children running up to see what this stranger was showing their mother reminded me of the joy I could be experiencing with my son. Writing about it now makes me chuckle because if he were actually there we would have been pulling sand and shells from his mouth, not able to look for weird sea animals. I was so worried that if our child was feeling even a fraction of what I was feeling I was sure he was miserable and crying for us constantly. We got in late Saturday night and I went to bed excitedly, anticipating the sheer joy on his face when he woke up in the morning to see his mommy!
Well, he woke up on Sunday his normal happy self and when I went in with a huge smile on my face and that sappy "reunion" music playing in my head, he looked right past me for Emma, my mom's little dog. That's right, he was more interested in where his beloved Emma was than the fact that no, his mother didn't leave him to live forever with his Nana, and yes, she did love him. Nope, he didn't care. I got him up, changed his diaper and he still didn't care. He wasn't clingy, he wasn't crying, he barely noticed that we were there. And, I realized, that all this guilt I have been feeling was self-inflicted. He is secure enough to spend two days with his Nana without having a meltdown. He doesn't need his parents to have a good time and for that I am grateful. I am grateful that so many people love this little boy and that they can love him even when I am beside myself with whining, and teething, and sleepless nights where I don't think I can be a mom anymore. I am grateful to have learned this importnant lesson about guilt that it isn't necessary! It is the work of the enemy trying to work his way into this little head of mine trying to tell me that I'm not good enough to be a mom. The reality is that God MADE me a mom to this particular little boy.
And next time, I'm taking that 3rd day!