I'm sure I'm not the only woman who had an image of what her maternal self would look like or an idea of what her maternal self would act like. Years of trying for my first child sort of made me perfect my image of how I would think, feel and act in my role as a mother.
Needless to say - I was wrong.
A good friend of mine had her first child a couple years before I had mine. I was amazed at how much our phone conversations changed after her son came into the world. There literally didn't seem to ever be a time when she wasn't whispering. I remember thinking, What the hell? It struck me as so odd that I brought it up to my husband:
She's always whispering! I mean, your baby has to get used to some kind of noise, doesn't he? Look at us! We live on top of a busy bar on one of the loudest streets in Brooklyn. What are we going to do when the baby comes? Soundproof the apartment? Whisper all the time? No way. You have to expose your baby to some noise. Give me a break. Whispering all the time - ha!
Flash forward about a year-and-a-half. My son is two months old and is breastfeeding every hour-and-a-half for 45 minutes at a time. He doesn't seem to have any interest in sleep. I'm walking around in a half-daze, wondering how long this behavior can possibly last. Babies are supposed to sleep all day, aren't they? One particular day, he finally goes down for a nap and I think to myself - Great! I can make myself a sandwich. Or paint my toenails. Or do anything that doesn't involve staring at this baby for a few minutes.
Just then my husband walks through the front door obliviously talking on his phone - but not speaking loudly at all. I freak and execute the best whisper-scream ever: SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP! ARE YOU CRAZY? ARE YOU STUPID? SHUUUUT UUUUPP!!!!!
Not my proudest moment. It was then that I came to understand all of the whispering.
I realized that before I had a child I thought that I would be able to somehow seamlessly fit him into my daily life without changing much at all. Well, that's ridiculous - I didn't really feel that way. But I never envisioned myself as the mother who would be trying to create the perfect, controlled environment just so my child would nap for a few minutes. To be fair - I didn't really understand how desperate I would be for those few minutes until my child actually arrived.
Then there's the television thing. I was sure that I would never let my young child watch TV. Letting your child watch any television before the age of two is really bad! I mean - how lazy. The TV isn't a babysitter! I've read tons of comments from women in parenting forums that say they never do it. They're totally right. If you are too busy or lazy or whatever to watch your child - don't have one.
Ha! I somehow neglected to realize that I would still enjoy engaging in that morning ritual I love so much. You know - drinking coffee, reading the paper, responding to emails. After you become a parent, you still want to do all of that stuff. Imagine that. Do you know what ensures that I will have approximately 23 minutes to do all of that stuff? Yo Gabba Gabba. After my son turned two I suddenly began to notice that he actually followed the story lines of animated movies. He will sit through a whole one - reciting the lines and dancing. I'm thrilled by that. I never thought I would admit that - but there you go. Judge me all you want.
Baby food. I had delusions of grandeur about that whole thing, too. I registered and got an amazing baby food processor. I used it and, as I had expected, I was pretty damn good at making baby food. The stuff was fresh, bright and delicious. My child loved it.
There was one catch though. He would only eat it fresh. I couldn't batch prepare it like most parents do and freeze it to be easily thawed out and fed to him for the week.
I tried everything; I defrosted my freezer, I incorporated lemon juice for freshness, I bought fun plates. If the food had been previously frozen, my foodie infant wouldn't touch it. This child would not let any previously made food touch his expert palate. So I had to process his baby food fresh every day.
That lasted about two weeks.
Guess what passed the taste test immediately. Yup - he devoured that crap in a jar. Instead of a freezer stocked with freshly made purees - I had a cupboard stocked with jars of baby food. Oh well.
I know it's annoying as hell when you don't have kids yet and someone is telling you the kind of parent you will be. I'm not doing that. I'm just saying that I was the perfect parent - before I became one. I can't be the only one that feels this way. Maybe you will succeed where I failed and have a baby who naps in a jazz club, abhors television and turns his nose up at jarred baby food. But if I could give moms-to-be one tip, it would be this:
Enjoy this time you have before your baby actually arrives. You'll never be as good of a parent as you are right now.
(photo: mathom / Shutterstock)