by Aimee Genter-Gilmore, PQ Monthly
As we continue to ease on into Oscar’s first birthday (I realize my first announcement was a tad premature), here are some observations and tips that this cranky old butch discovered “in the trenches”:
1. Forget about having any control over your schedule.
This was the hardest lesson I had to learn. I crave schedules and order. I pride myself on being punctual. Since the birth of Oscar Rocket, however, those needs have gone out the window. Oscar sets the schedule now. Interestingly enough, once I got used to it, I feel like it released a world of pressure from my shoulders. Running late? Oscar napped late. Missed a meeting? Couldn’t find a sitter. On a normal day, if I feel a little sleep-deprived, I always know that there’ll be a 2-hour nap on the horizon. I learned to “roll with it,” and my blood pressure immediately dropped.
Now, a lot of people try to squeeze their children into their lives. I totally get it. My neighbors and I tend to get together at least once a week in “the Sippy Cup” (a bar in my neighbor’s garage, within range of everyone’s baby monitors), for a little bit of rowdiness and a taste of the pre-baby life. But we’re parents now. We’re still in bed before the 11 O’Clock News. Once I learned how to let go and bend for Oscar’s needs, I found that I wasn’t sacrificing much at all, and in return, I was getting naps, baby dinosaur kisses, and endless hours of entertainment.
2. Your life (as you knew it) is over. Luckily, your new life is pretty awesome.
I believe it’s no secret that I battled postpartum depression in the early months. I luckily have a great relationship with my partner, and with my medical provider, so when I realized that I had gone to a very dark place, I immediately sought help. I don’t remember much from that time. Mostly, I remember having an absolute repulsion to my kid, and the phrase “my life is over” repeating, on a loop, through my head for two months. I really couldn’t see how awesome my life would be less than a year later. I was still mourning the life that I no longer had.
I think this is a more common story than people are willing to admit. Oftentimes, when I talk about my postpartum depression, and my feelings toward Oscar at the time, people tell me that it’s comforting to them to hear that I went through it, and came out of it absolutely in love with my kid. Others tell me that they thought something was wrong with them, and were glad to hear that they weren’t alone. Raising a newborn baby is tough, people. It could possibly be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life (unless you’re training to become a Navy SEAL) …they don’t make countless sitcoms about parenthood because it’s easy. But here we are, Oscar is just about a year old, and I couldn’t be happier. His smile lights me up. His baby dinosaur kisses and squeals of joy make my heart jump. I love my son deeply and fiercely, and I am so glad that I was able to get help and get to this place, because now I couldn’t imagine a life without him.
3. Your parents are imperfect. Just like you.
When you’re a kid, you’re raised to believe that your parents are superheroes. That they do no wrong and always know exactly what to do. Once you have a kid, you realize that your parents were faking it then just as hard as you’re trying to do now. And sometimes we falter and sometimes we fail…and you know what? Your parents were exactly the same, except now that you’re all grown up and out of the house, they’re off-duty. They’re grandparents now. Give ’em a break!
4. A kid with two moms? There are plenty of worse things
I was concerned about bringing a kid into the world who would be born with a very noticeable disadvantage. I spent most of my childhood trying to blend in… I often wonder what it would be like to stand out from the start? Oddly enough, it was an episode of What Would You Do? that put a lot of my fears to rest. On top of that, I’ve read about kids who are jealous when they hear someone has two moms, and came to the conclusion that our situation isn’t as weird as it used to be. I mean, sure, when the time comes for kids to start sorting and categorizing people, our kid will still be organized in the “has two moms” or “doesn’t have a dad” categories, but he’ll also be organized into the “has blonde hair,” or “has a purple notebook” categories. Noticing and mentioning our differences is not always a bad thing. I will teach Oscar to celebrate our differences.
Oscar Rocket took his first steps on September 23, and he said his first word (“mama”) on August 13, in case you’re keeping score. Now go out and enjoy this late September heat wave before the soggy foggyness rolls in!