Today Anderson is 6 weeks old.
In a way that sounds like just a tiny pocket of time, but for our lives it has been everything – a mini lifetime of newborn-dom all rolled into a month and a half. Pregnancy feels like a long time ago, yet some days this mom thing still feels as new as day one. Just the other day I was doing something in the kitchen and I found myself just staring in awe at Anderson, on the floor in his bouncy seat, saying, “You’re really here! It really worked!”
We have had our share of brutally hard nights, wracked by insomnia, trying anything and everything to get this baby to sleep. We have had days where rivers of spit-up and pools of other bodily leakage (I’ll spare further details…) have made for more wardrobe changes than Kim Kardashian on an average day in maternity clothes. We have had ‘nice peaceful walks’ to the soundtrack of screams. He’s cried. And cried. He’s made us cry. And cry. I once seriously considered running to the bathroom and jumping into a cold shower with all my clothes on, as a form of panicked hydro therapy in the midst of a “nothing will get this baby to sleep!!” night. I compromised with aggressively splashing cold water on my exhausted face over and over and over, until I finally snapped back to the realm of the living enough to give it another go.
I had the pleasure of meeting Glennon Melton the other night. She is the founder of the hilarious, honest, “brutiful” (her word) blog, Momastery.com, which I highly recommend anyone read. She also just wrote a book, which I also highly recommend (so does the New York Times – it debuted at #3!).
Anyway, got to meet Glennon, chat with her a bit and hear her speak about her life and her writing. One of the things she said that has resonated with me the most at this stage in my life is (I paraphrase): Do the things you have to do. Then do the things you want to do. Don’t worry about all the things you should do.
For me, right now, that looks like this:
THINGS I HAVE TO DO:
Feed Anderson 8-12 times a day
Change Anderson’s diaper 8-12 times a day
Wake up 8-12 times a night (just kidding, it’s not that bad)
Brush my teeth to avoid further cavities
Eat something once in a while
THINGS I WANT TO DO:
Hold my son, especially when he’s being sweet
Take lots of stroller walks, especially if they involve getting coffee
Spend way too much time checking facebook and people.com because it’s a low brain level distraction that I can handle while nursing, trying to fall back to sleep, daydreaming about the outside world, etc..
Watch every tivo’d episode of The Voice and American Idol
Enjoy a glass of wine or a beer
Get pedicures, massages and facials any chance I get
THINGS I SHOULD DO:
Bathe Anderson more than once a week (we sometimes make it to two…)
Pay my bills more often
Eat fewer frozen Mexican meals
Properly care for my hair
Start thinking about nice things to do for our moms for Mother’s Day
Pray more (with the exception of short desperate pleas for mid-night sleep – those I’ve got covered)
I’m learning to prioritize the “have to’s” and the “wants,” and to forgive myself when I don’t get to all the “shoulds.”
The “have to’s” and the “wants,” – those are the things that you and the people in your life will remember.
All right, here’s the silver lining I’ve discovered: No matter how hopeless and hard those 3am moments may feel at the time, the next day you recover. You bounce back (sometimes not without the help of multiple coffees). You find yourself laughing at some noise or new expression he makes. You get excited to finally try out the new stroller after a string of rainy days. You breathe in the sweet downy scent of the top of his head and can’t think of a better smell in the whole wide world. And suddenly, it’s okay that you haven’t washed your hair in three days, opened a piece of mail in a month or spent more than five minutes talking to your best friend in the last five weeks. It’s worth it because you’re all this baby has, and you’ll never get these first days with him back. So I try to keep perspective. I really try. And I think I sort of succeed….most of the time. But if you ever find me standing in the shower, at 2am, drenched in the same pj pants I’ve been wandering around in aimlessly for three days, you’ll know it is not the time to talk to me about perspective.
Please wait until I’ve had my coffee.