Sink or Swim

Friday, March 16, 2007

Getting Back Into the Swim

OK, I'm amazed when I visit the blogs of my fellow travelers and find so many wonderful posts. I am having a hard time finding the time, energy and words to talk about our trip and our daughter. I've journaled quite a bit about our trip on my family website, so I'm not going to do a complete re-hash. I guess I'll talk about some of the things that are harder to express, so be kind. Our trip was more of an experience than I expected. Guangzhou was fascinating. So much of it was beautiful, all of it was interesting, and I would love to go back when we could really see it fully, we saw such glimpses and snapshots in this trip. But I've never been on a trip where I felt like I missed so much, like I did on this trip. We didn't shop much; we didn't explore much. What we did, of course, is become parents. It seems like such a simple thing to say, but it was beyond my expectations in almost all good ways. When they put E in my arms, she was fast asleep, and she stayed asleep for at least 45 minutes. So it was hard to have much of a bonding experience, or any experience for that matter! She was groggy most of the day, and slept so much. For the first couple of days, E just watched us -- us and everything around her. She was quiet, thoughtful, shy and always sleepy. By the third day, she started coming out of her shell. Giggles followed, along with much banging of toys. I enjoyed her so much, but the new parent thing was quite staggering for me. I felt over my head, and unsure of what to do, what to feel. The other parents seemed to be adjusting so quickly (of course, we were the only first time parents in our group). I'm still feeling my way, but I'm trusting myself more. And our little girl is truly a marvel. No longer shy (still very, very curious!), she crawls up a storm, babbles, plays quite vigorously, sleeps very soundly (after extensive persuasion), pulls herself up to stand (and will probably walk within a month), and mimics us quite readily. She can lift both arms to say "hooray," clap and wave bye-bye. She says Baba relatively easily, and Mama when it works to her advantage (i.e. not wanting to take a nap). I feel like attachment is going well for all of us. R is such a natural father, I am floored by him every day. He is far better at getting her to calm down and go to sleep, and he is endlessly fascinated by her every breath. It sounds like such a cliche', but I have fallen in love with him all over again. E and I have a more complex relationship. She always reaches out for me, and generally prefers being with me, but she also tests me more. We play a lot. I challenge her, and we roughhouse a little, which she loves. After a few minutes of playing on her own, she always checks back in with me for a hug, which is bliss. She will readily make eye contact with me when I feed and change her. I read to her a lot, and talk endlessly, naming everything in her sight. But I am not completely relaxed with her, and she senses it and sometimes takes advantage of it. For example, she will rarely go to sleep for me, but R has success every time. I'm working on it, but being a mother is more complicated than I thought. It's not just about loving her, which is effortless. I need to find peace with my skills and instincts and not worry every moment about the life we are giving her. We will do the best we can -- I will do the best I can. Does every mother always worry about whether that is enough? Anyway, this is a rambling post that doesn't pick up very well from where I left off, but it's where my head is at the moment. Don't misinterpret my ramblings -- I am so in love with this child, and enjoying motherhood greatly. I just need to unclench a little...

5 Comments:

Blogger Mama said...

Nice post - nicely said - it was shocking for me too at first, still so, but less so . . . I think I told you my thought was that motherhood wasn't the hardest job in the world, it was in fact quite easy . . . the problem is you never know if what you are doing or not doing is helping, or hurting or not making one wankers worth of difference either way. Did I pay enough attention to her? If so, then did I let her play alone enough? Was my play challenging/educational/varied enough? Is what she eating right? Does it matter? On and on . . . I was shocked by the guilt in every move you make . . . I'm not a guilty person, and I still can not escape it . . . my guess is, it never goes away . . . it's just that in a few years, they will actually be able to verbalize it at you, "You messed me up because . . . a . . .b . . . or c." Yikes.


Emanual

3/16/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mama said...

On more comment - words that have helped me . . . a gal at my work said something along the lines of -
Children think there own mom is the most beautiful woman in all the world (true for me - I did) and will forgive them anything (Did you happen to watch Oprah Wednesday - drug addict woman leaving her 8 year old to raise her twin 7 year old siblings in a known drug house for years - and they are still "best friends").

Your children will believe your way of life/lifestyle is the perfect way of life/lifestyle - so whatever you do or don't do - they will accept as the only way things are done (I thought we were rich and had the nices house in town - we were quite poor and had a small house in a bad neighborhood - but my dad told me otherwise and I believed him.)

I just keep all that in mind. All my imperfections are invisible to my daughter (at least for now). Your children just know you are there, and that is enough. Those thoughts help me work through things . . . hope they are valuable to you as well.

I think the corporate world ruins moms in some ways or atleast ruined parts of me, as I expected more structure, more knowing if I was hitting or missing the target, more black and white, less gray . . . the reality to me is that it isn't even "shades of grey", it's total blindness (faith).

Emanual

3/16/2007 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Corinne said...

I don't have any more experience than you do, but I think what you're feeling is very, very normal.

I also know what you mean about falling in love again with your husband. I feel that too. I'm so proud of the two of them when they're together that sometimes I could burst.

FWIW, I didn't think you looked or seemed nervous or "unclenched" (I like that word) at all in Guangzhou. I thought you both seemed very natural and proud of E.

I'm so glad we got to share this time. I'm going to need a lot of E photos, just to warn you. So keep them coming!

3/17/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger nikki said...

Isn't it crazy how guilty we immediately feel if we open up and are truly HONEST about motherhood?
Yes, it is wonderful.
Yes, we love our children more than we ever imagined possible,BUT it is not always easy. We feel our way thru it and we always wonder if we are doing a good enough job. We do our best. End of story. I'm sure you are doing great! (and I am STILL trying to "unclench" a little over here and it has been almost 2 years!)

3/22/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger kris said...

I just found your blog today and am thoroughly moved by your hearfelt, honest post about the "mixed bag" of emotions that motherhood brings... it causes butterflies in my stomach since I'm venturing on this road as a single (and falsely tell myself that since the wait will be around 2 years, I'll be "better" prepared then)! I know I will love my daughter, but like you, I think it will be more complicated (and more wonderful) than I can imagine.

I hope you keep writing and sharing your experiences. This one post was a huge help to me, though it's hard to put into words in what way. Maybe just common humanity, knowing I won't really be doing this alone.

3/24/2007 08:26:00 PM  

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