I am exactly the mother I said I would never be.
My 20 month-old daughter sleeps in our bed with us. When I was pregnant, and even before, I was adamant that this would never happen. In fact, I don’t have a tv in the bedroom and I don’t read in bed because I have always firmly believed that marriage beds should be for sleep and sex. Since the baby came along, there hasn’t been much of either going on in that bed.
I am SO tired of “the family bed.” I believe in it philosophically. I love me some Dr. Sears, Dr. Jay Gordon, even Dr. Blossom (Mayim Whatever). But in my life, it means that I have either a foot or a head in my face all night long, that when a nighttime diaper leaks, it leaks on me, that I can’t cuddle up and spoon with my husband ever.
I lie down with my daughter whenever it’s time for her to go to sleep. I remember babysitting at sixteen for a little boy, and his mother told me that at bedtime I had to lie down with him until he fell asleep. Even back then, I was all “What kind of bullshit is this?!” It sucks. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s nice to snuggle with her and be silly with her. But when I hear those stories about and from mothers who read their children books, kiss them and then leave them dozing contentedly in their own beds, I cry a little. And since I’m pregnant, I usually accidentally pee a little, but it’s unrelated.
My whole life revolves around my daughter. I cater to her in ways that I said I never would. I let her eat goldfish crackers for breakfast today. My husband jumps up whenever she asks for milk in the middle of the night. I watch “The Wonder Pets” over and over and over because she loves it. But I guess that’s motherhood.
I also don’t immediately rush out of a store if she starts fussing. I used to drop deadly dagger looks on mothers in grocery stores whose children were screaming their heads off. Now I know that it’s hard enough to get the damn shopping done, and I am NOT going to leave the store because I’m worried about her crying bothering someone. I’m happy to give her something to munch on to appease her, or to finish as quickly as possible, but I have to do my damn shopping and if that makes me one of “those” mothers, then I am one of them.
I show off pictures of my girl on Facebook and beam with pride when people “like” them and tell me she’s cute. I know my kid is probably just like every other kid in the world, no more or less special. But to me, she’s the cutest kid to ever blow snot in her mother’s hair, and I can’t get enough of hearing it.
I have tried very hard not to be one of those mothers who thinks my kid is a genius. I think this phenomenon comes from the fact that we all watch our babies go from these helpless, squalling, cross-eyed blobs of pink to little people who walk, problem solve, and crack jokes and it seems nothing short of miraculous. My daughter is a precocious speaker. Since 18 months, she has spoken in complete sentences and had a vocabulary of several hundred words. I am proud of her. I beam. It’s amazing to hear her talk as well as children who are a year older than her. I love when her preschool teachers tell me how smart she is. “EVERYONE’S child is gifted,” I used to mock people like me.
And OH, how I rolled my eyes at women who didn’t let their husbands be fathers without a million little comments and corrections. And OH, how I struggle not to be one of them. There is something about being a mother that makes you feel like no one can do it as well as you, not even your child’s father. My husband still thinks that our daughter is going to fall over flat on her face almost every second, even though she can run, jump, spin, climb, and put her hands out to catch her if she falls. He also thinks she likes trains (he is the one who likes trains). Sometimes I succeed at keeping my mouth shut, other times I fail. And sometimes I DO sound like one of those henpecking bitches I’ve always hated.
And I SWORE I would never be “too tired” to have sex with my husband. I think I do okay, seeing as how I am 17 weeks pregnant and have a toddler and don’t get to sleep alone with Odie in our bed. I have known and/or heard of women who haven’t had sex with their husbands for months or years. I even came up with the suggestion that we put a futon in the office for us to enjoy during baby naptimes and after she goes to bed. Because “getting creative” is killing my back.
I have sworn that I will do all kinds of things different with the second baby, but I probably won’t. I may push the vegetables a little harder, but I’m still going to be me. I think that for a lot of us, our children sort of lead us to be the parents we are. V is extremely attached, a bad sleeper, and very opinionated. She always has been.
Undoubtedly, this next child will lead me to be exactly the mother s/he needs. A good enough one.