Today, the wonderfully snarkalicious Ilana of Mommy Shorts is stopping by the TRUTH about Motherhood and sharing her Truth About Motherhood. I am thrilled to have her.”I am exhausted. Yet, somehow I do not capitalize on the hours I have to sleep. I have an adorable baby. Who will challenge your baby to a cuteness contest. Where they will automatically tie. Because pitting babies against each other is totally NOT COOL. I also have a husband. Whom I love slightly more than my computer. But slightly less than ice cream.” If you are not already a follower of Mommyshorts you should definitely check her out. She will keep you laughing with her honest and witty take on life,entertainment, photos and babies.
Prior to having a baby of my own, I honestly had no idea what to do around children. And even worse, I was terrified they all could tell. Like I was wearing a t-shirt with the words “You Make Me Feel Uncomfortable” emblazoned across the front. (And yes, in my not-so-good-with-children head, even a two-year-old can read.)
When I was around newborns, all I envisioned was some sort of horrific accident of which I would be solely responsible. If a friend handed me their new baby (because everyone assumes you want to hold their baby, right?), I would look at that mother with eyes that said, “You do realize I will drop your child/fall down this flight of stairs/unintentionally throw the baby off the balcony, right?”
If I was around a toddler, I had a hard time feigning excitement for the things they wanted to talk about or play with. Two minutes into stacking a ring toy or organizing some blocks and my eyes would glaze over with a “When Will This Be Over?” sheen.
Being around older kids (let’s say 5-10) was the worst. I felt this weird desire for them to classify me as “cool” and would thus fall back on my “cool default” behavioral mode— slightly aloof and detached. Not exactly a frame of mind that’s gonna win any points with a seven-year-old.
My husband, however, is a different story. He is excellent with kids. They flock to him like a bagel floating in a duck pond. I have watched him time and time again, win over children by coming down to their level and acting interested in their activities. It is not something I can copy. And believe me, I have tried.
After much study and reflection, I think it might have something to do with my husband ACTUALLY being interested in the kids and GENUINELY enjoying himself. Hmph.
One of the reasons I married him was because I thought he was my only shot at raising well-adjusted children. I figured his talents would balance out my deficiencies.
Well. When we had our first child, I was in for a shock. Because although my husband is excellent with walking, talking, passing and throwing little tots, he had absolutely no idea what to do with a baby.
But luckily, much to both of our amazement— I, the non-mother-material poster child, suddenly saw things clearly.
My job was not about entertaining the baby or getting the baby to like me, it was about KEEPING HER ALIVE.
THAT, I could figure out. Changing diapers, bathing her, feeding her, scheduling nap times and putting her to bed. These tasks may not be fun but they are an easy-to-follow step-by-step roadmap for building a relationship with your child.
That first few months I learned that mothers aren’t first and foremost their child’s friend. They are their child’s provider. And the most important thing is not to be perceived as cool or fun or entertaining. It is to be caring, loving and comforting.
All I had to do was keep her close and safe.
Now that might seem obvious to some. But it was not to me. My biggest truth in motherhood is that even if I’m terrible with kids in general (which hasn’t changed), when it comes to my 16-month-old baby girl, I can still be a damn good mom.