Since suffering through that impossibly difficult first year with a challenging baby, I have never really allowed myself to get into a groove as a mother. This isn’t a sob story about how kids constantly change and ruin your perfectly laid plans. I gave up those expectations years ago. I have learned to really go with the flow in practice. Yet in my mind, I find myself always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Four years and two kids later – despite many more good days than bad – I constantly wonder “when is it going to be like that again?”
I thought I was prepared for the shock of new motherhood. I was ready for the responsibility, I had longed for a child for years, and I had even had my fair share of practice with all-nighters and general lack of sleep. Of course I had also heard the whispers that babies were so easy. All they did was eat and sleep, right? What could possibly be so hard about that?
I had a baby who did nothing but eat and scream. As in all the time. He cried if he wasn’t being pushed around in a stroller outside throughout the day, whatever the weather. Between the hours of four p.m. and eight p.m. he cried no matter what you did. I get chills when I think about how strung out, stressed out, and down and out I was during that time.
Around nine or ten months he started to sleep in the stroller as I pushed him around. By a year we had something that resembled a schedule. I can remember writing in my journal how good it felt to not have a screaming baby on my hands at all times. By that time he was mobile and verbal and he just seemed happier, as if he had been trapped in that baby body and hated every moment of it as much as I did.
Having finally nailed down a schedule after a year of trial and error, I hated to see things change. Of course, that’s exactly what babies do — they change all the time. He dropped from two naps to one, he moved into a toddler bed from a crib, he was informed he would have a baby sister coming soon. But even with all that change between his first and second birthday, he and I had a rhythm to our dance, and we kept up with the constant music changes effortlessly.
Yet I was always nervous.
What if things went back to those early days? What if I couldn’t figure out how to deal? What if I couldn’t find a solution to his problem (which of course, would become my problem)?
Even though I could have breathed a sigh of relief, I never did. Things never got as bad as those first few months, but I always dreaded they would. So I never really got comfortable as a mother.