Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 2.16 - My First Mother's Day

Well, my first mother's day according to Dear Husband.  I wasn't so sure, since Little Bit isn't even here yet, but he insisted.

And to be honest, I felt a little weird about it all day yesterday.  Sometimes the thought that I'm going to be a mom hasn't sunk in entirely, and at other times, it sinks in far too well. 

These feelings were all compounded by the party we went to Saturday night.  It was a department get-together, and several of my colleagues came and brought their children.  One of the kids was an adorable and precious seven-month-old little girl, who quite happily submitted to being passed around.  I spent part of the night with her wiggling in my arms, looking around to see what was going on, having my shoulder gummed, and occasionally, watching her reach out to my husband to get a better vantage point.  (Her daddy has a beard, so she didn't shy away from DH the way my cousin's daughter did the first time she saw him.)

One, watching DH hold and bounce this tiny baby, I knew that his worries were unfounded--he's going to be a great daddy, and probably spoil Little Bit rotten.  (I just know she's going to like him best, because he's never going to be able to tell her no, and Mommy's going to have to be the one to administer punishment when something goes wrong.) 

On the other hand, while I loved loved loved holding this little girl, I felt that sudden and unrelenting terror settle back down on me, and it hasn't quite gone away.  I know parenting is not the idyllic scenes you see in laundry detergent commercials.  I suppose I've been trying to manage expectations, but while the "what if?" game often works for most regular anxieties, it actually makes this particular brand of anxiety worse.  This was compounded a bit this week by a very bad bout of vertigo--the kind that I haven't had in probably ten years.  But everything is just fine--Little Bit was moving about quite happily, and I went home with a prescription for Antivert, and unless I get up out of the bed too fast, the vertigo is gone.  But for a couple of hours on Wednesday, DH and I were both completely and utterly terrified.  And again, everything is just fine.

Honestly, I don't know how people do this.  While I'm excited for Little Bit to get here, I'm also scared to death, and that's been kind of what has made me so boggled over Mother's Day.  I know excitement and terror are all part of being a mother, but in about four months, I'm going to have a tiny little person I'm responsible for, and I can't keep a house plant alive!  Whose idea was this?

I've always had some trepidations about having kids--I think that's something that particularly happens when you have a mental illness.  I'm desperately afraid that there will come a day when it is no longer well-controlled, and I revert back to long periods of depression and occasional bursts of anger, in which my facility with words turns ugly and they spill out without care for where they land.  I'm afraid that this will be something that I genetically pass along, and I don't want to see Little Bit suffer in any way.

DH says that the fact that I'm worried about it--and the fact that I can recognize when it happens--means that it's going to be okay, because I'll keep a close eye on it, and that of course, he's here to help with that too.  Still, it scares me.

And I think about my mom and the difficulties she had raising us--particularly Middle Brother, who is still too smart for his own good.  (Love ya, Bro.)  But keeping him occupied and challenged--and therefore out of trouble--was a full-time job, and she had me and Youngest Brother besides.  (We were fortunately model children.)  And at the same time, all three of us kids had medical issues at one point or another in our lives.  My mother didn't leave my bedside for a week and a half when I was in the hospital, despite being in the middle of a lupus flare that had been brought on by the stress of having a child in the hospital.   Needless to say, I'm praying that Little Bit gets her daddy's constitution.

And in other ways, it feels odd.  We went out and bought a real lawnmower yesterday.  DH has been using a manual one--like from in the 50s--but it simply does not work on a yard that's primarily grass growing out of sand, and he was having to weed-eat the yard every night, because the charge on the weed-eater only goes for about twenty minutes, which was not nearly enough time to weed-eat the entire yard.  So we bought a gas-powered mower, and brought it home, and he commented that he was feeling depressingly adult.

I looked down at my belly.  Now he feels depressingly adult?  But I got the sentiment.  We're still going to be fun, aren't we?  I mean, half of what we have for Little Bit already is geeky in nature.  (Actually, this poor child probably doesn't stand a chance on that front.) 

For those who haven't had kids yet, and see the idyllic photos of pregnant mothers or parents and babies?  Bullshit, guys.  Yeah, I feel like that sometimes, but most of the time, not so much.  I'm just terrified.  Oh, and let's not forget the guilt that's already setting in.  I only have a Ph.D. (and also thousands of dollars of student loan debt).  I can't stay home with the baby full-time.  For one thing, we can't afford it--particularly with the aforementioned student loan debt.  Plus, again, I have a Ph.D. that I've worked for over ten years to get.  And I'm not saying that there aren't moms out there with advanced degrees who stay home with their kids, but here's what I'm referring to as the Modern Mother Dichotomy of Guilt: Keep working and you're abandoning your kid to the vagaries of daycare and mediocre education OR Stop working and waste the last five/ten/thirteen years of your life and your education to stay home.  Also, there's maternity leave--I'm not planning on taking the full twelve weeks--see above student loans.  I'm going to take four to six weeks--depending on how things go--and then go back to work.  No, Little Bit is not going into daycare--her grandma is going to come stay with us for a while.  But I would have loved to have taken maternity leave for the entirety of next semester.  But again--can't afford it.  (Insert complaint about the US being the only developed country--and one of only three in the world--that doesn't offer some sort of paid maternity leave.)

There is nothing wrong with my choice to keep working.  Fortunately, I have the benefit of having a reasonably flexible schedule, and I may not work summers after this.  It'll depend.  But the guilt is still there because of a societal expectation that I fit into one category or another.  Well, screw that.  (Guilt still there.  Dammit.)

DH kept asking me yesterday if I was okay.  And I was, really, but all of this was going through my head.  It hadn't coalesced yet--that doesn't really happen until I sit down and "write myself out."  Was I okay? Probably not, and then again, probably so, since I know this isn't anything that every other mother out there has to deal with.  It's enough to make you take to your bed.

But I have final exams to finish this week and grades to enter in, and speaking of which, it's about time I got up and headed into the office.  Whee.

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