I’m still having medical issues and they still haven’t been worked out. In time, I hope that a doctor will be able to help me. I’m currently sorting this out on my own. It’s been hard. I do not trust my emotions right now to know what’s coming or going. I do not know what’s real and what’s thyroid induced so I second guess myself daily at least a dozen times. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having some trouble adjusting to motherhood.
Emory is changing everyday. That’s normal. I know. But last Wednesday, he threw out all the cute, fake coughs and replaced them with ear-piercingly loud screams. I tend to exaggerate sometimes, but these screams have actually caused the constant ringing in my left ear to worsen. (They are so unbelievably loud.) They’re terrible. He does this whenever he decides that we are not paying enough attention to him. And for Emory, that’s almost always. I am at my wit’s end. If I ignore him for a bit, the screams intensify, he gets worked up, and eventually starts to cry. (That has only happened twice, however, because I can’t let the screams go on for that long. Plus, since he rarely cries, it’s hard to watch that happen.) I usually give in after a few of the screams and pick him up. The screams almost always immediately stop. (Of course they do! He’s getting his way, right?)
I didn’t go to school for this. I went to school for photography, graphic design, and visual arts. I admit it. I have no freaking clue how to be a mother. I have no idea what’s right and what’s wrong. I have no idea how much time I’m supposed to pay attention to him and how much time I’m supposed to let him work it out alone. And I’m his full-time teacher! I am a stay-at-home mom. I have no daily help. I don’t have a nanny or a babysitter. (My mother comes over sometimes to help, but I don’t call her hired help. She’s there for support. She’s not a nanny. I wouldn’t want her to be a nanny. I want her to be my mom). It’s just Emory and me for the most part, which is precisely the way I wanted it to be.
But the last two weeks have been trying. I find myself staring off into space wondering what it would have been like to go back to work part-time, hire someone to look after Emory every now and again. I wonder what it would have been like to drop him off at a daycare every now and again so I can get things done – a haircut, visit the doctor, walk around and get lost taking pictures.
And that makes me feel worse. Selfish. Immature. I feel like I’m failing him and myself. I feel like I’m failing period. People have done this for decades! Women have raised many kids and alone! What is wrong with me? Why am I having so much trouble juggling everything, mentally dealing with the transition into motherhood? How in the hell do you people do this so well!
It troubles me that if I get this wrong, I can’t really go back again and retake the course. This is it. I need to get it right the first time. That’s a little bit terrifying.
I have been self-diagnosing myself lately because I haven’t made it to a doctor and I’m not sure when I’ll do that. I stumbled on a term recently over at Ask Moxie about being Touched Out. Women were discussing the physical relationships (or lack thereof) they have with their husbands after having a baby. Some said they were too tired to snuggle with their husbands. Others said they just didn’t want to be touched at the end of the day. I started thinking about this phrase: “Touched Out”.
I spend every day, all day, with Emory. I am very affectionate with him. He is a very needy and loving little boy. He likes to be near me and he loves to be smooched and tickled. I spend every day giving him all of my physical and emotional attention. Whenever TobyJoe gets home, I barely remember to hug him let alone give him a kiss. I hand the baby over and shower or clean or do whatever it is I wanted to do and couldn’t because I didn’t have the time. And that’s terrible! Am I failing my husband as well? When does everything get back to normal? Ever?
I just feel like I’m failing. I failed at the work I tried to continue with after Emory was born. I barely find time to write and whenever I do, I don’t reread it so it’s strewn with errors and half-thoughts. I barely shower. I barely go out. I barely cook. I barely clean. If I gave myself a grade this week, it’d be a failing grade.
I was joking with TobyJoe about how I currently sum up my daily routine. We live in a railroad apartment. The front of our apartment (our bedroom) faces east and the back (our kitchen) faces west. The sun wakes up every day and greets me through our bedroom window. At the end of the day, the sun sets over Manhattan, saying goodbye outside our kitchen window. That’s my punctuation, my front and back cover. Everyday, I pick up the same book. I read the very first sentence at the beginning of the day and the last sentence at the end of the day. And I know there’s a whole lot more taking place as the sun makes its way from the front of our apartment to the back, but I don’t see it happen. I don’t read that part. I don’t show Emory what the sun does. I know nothing firsthand of its journey. (Does a cloud ever get in its way, a bird? Is there a rainstorm? A rainbow?) I don’t take him to the backyard to show him the sun at high noon because, well, we don’t have a backyard. And the backyard we do have (which is off limits to us anyway) is currently occupied by a very drunk and belligerent hobo.
How am I supposed to teach this little person about what happens to the sun when it’s out of view if I don’t know myself?
I probably have the post-birthday blues or something. I turned 34 yesterday and I repeatedly had to remind myself that it was in fact my birthday. I had a dermatology appointment first thing in the morning, where she stuck a needle full of a steroidal into my MOHs scar/wound because it’s not healing well. That obviously sucked. But what makes yesterday really quite funny isn’t that I had a needle stuck into my face on my birthday, it’s the fact that I got really dressed up in order to do so.
But, hey, at least the sentence that punctuated yesterday morning was different from all the rest.
Michele, I want to give you a big hug right now & if I could I’d run over and babysit for a couple of hours. You are not failing. You are feeling normal(with or without the medical problems lots of parents feel this way.) The first year can have a lot of ups & downs, just like the 1st year of living with someone or marriage. Just when you think you may have things under control the baby goes through a new phase. That’s the good news though because that means things will change again & things won’t be like this forever. Please don’t feel guilty & selfish for wanting some time to yourself. It’s true that women have raised kids alone, but it doesn’t always mean they have been happy, and lots of women have bigger support systems. Time for yourself & time with your husband is essential. If you have the means to use child care for even a few hours a week it won’t hurt Emory and you won’t be selfish or a failure. It is good for kids to form bonds with other people(even though it’s hard to leave them sometimes.) It would be good for you even for an hour to get out of the house to run errands or take pictures like you used to, or just daydream like any good artist. It makes being with your child that much more special when you come back to him, and then you can start telling him the middle part of the story.
Been reading your blog for a while now. Thought I’d put my two cents in, for what it’s worth.
First off, everything you are feeling is VERY normal. Including the feeling guilty for wanting “you” time. Second, you need to have a come to Jesus meeting with TobyJoe and explain to him you need “ME” time. Every day. An hour if it can be spared… 30 minutes… even 15 minutes can do wonders. Not only will this give the guys time by themselves every day, but it gives you time to be a girl… to find yourself… to maybe just find a quiet place to empty your brain. You are blessed to have a loving husband to share your little one and I promise if you can stick with this, even if you have to force yourself, (you will want to make excuses as to why you just don’t have the time to take a break)your concerns about being a wife to your husband will become easier and the shrieks of the little one might still set your nerves on edge, but not as quickly.
Chin up, dear one. It does get easier. And soon enough there will come a time when you actually miss these early months. (hard to believe right now, I KNOW!) :-)
i’m sorry you feels so down right now, i wish there was some magic solution. granted, i dont have kids of my own yet, but through my doula training i’ve read lots of books on how to help mothers pre and post partum. a one constant issue has been how many mothers today are isolated, mainly because the sense of community has taken a backseat to life.
i think it used to be easier to know how to raise kids, because when people were tighter knit they were around other kids more, and other mothers with babies. my suggestion, if i may make one, is to get out and get together with other mothers. some new, some experienced, that way you can vent your frustrations, be understood and get some adviced from others experience.
i took a quick look online and it seems that there are quite a few parent/mother meet up groups in NY. http://newparents.meetup.com/cities/us/ny/new_york/
it trully does take a village to raise a baby. mothers and fathers need support, encouragement, advice. i wish you all the best =)
A zillion people are going to tell you this but I’m OK being number one zillion and one.
Getting yourself a reliable “relief pitcher” for a few hours per week a. is not failing and b. will likely be an enormous help to you. Even if you just go out and sit in a park or a coffee shop or go to the grocery store yourself or walk around the block, it will be a worthy, perhaps necessary expense.
It’s not failing. It’s putting your own oxygen mask first.
This is completely normal (at least I hope so, because I still feel this way sometimes too)! I will pass on something my sister once told me when I mentioned that I worry that I’m not being a good mom—the fact that you worry if you are a good mom shows that you ARE a good mom. The “bad” moms are the ones who don’t care enough to wonder if they are good moms!
Oh, and I hear you on the whole “touched out” thing. I have a very snuggly 3yo boy (he loves hugs, kisses, and sitting with mommy) and a 1yo boy who still likes to be held most of the time. My lap is the best seat in the house (I’ve actually had times where I’m holding both boys while my husband sits next to me, laying his head on my shoulder)! I start to feel like a glorified chair or pillow! After a while, I just don’t want anything touching me!
I need to clear something up that may have come off incorrectly in this post, this poorly composed post! TobyJoe works fulltime. He is a blessing to me and lets me go to yoga four times a week. He gives me more me time than he gives himself. I don’t want anyone thinking that he’s anything other than awesome. He is the money maker, someone has to be! :]
Somedays I feel like I am living your life! For what its worth, there are others of us going through the same stuff right now… and I am learning there are no right answers! Leaving an enjoyable career behind that you worked long and hard for to take on this new path – MOTHERHOOD- with all its goods and bads is daunting. Two completely different worlds… I wish there was some way to ease into being a mom. It is so sudden, so abrupt. One minute you are not (carefree!), the next minute you are (what the heck did I get myself into?). I don’t think we are supposed to know how to handle it …especially growing up with all the “girl power” messages. “You can be anything you want.” “You can do anything you want.” Well, how can I be the awesome full-time stay-at-home mom AND the highly trained intellectual full-time employee AND the loving sexy playful wife?
The reality is that I can’t. Something’s gotta give. So I try my best, realizing it ain’t gonna be perfect…sometimes not even pretty. But at least I’m trying….
Couple of things to consider in case you decide to send the kid to daycare in the future.
1. Do it during the summer, not winter. Otherwise the kid gets sick often (every month for my kid when he was 5 months old)
2. Since kids are not being carried all the time when they cry, after all the ratio for infant is one teacher for 4 kids (in California). There are kids that are used to being held at home wil cry non-stop for two weeks or in one extreme case one month. But in the end, they do stop crying.
3. Check out if daycare has part time program. At the beginning, I put my kid for 2 days (10 hours per day) and now 3 days. My daycare has options for MWF or TTh for 10 hours per day or 6 hours per day.
As for how to help the kid to be able to play by himself. Try to find out when he is most happy and doesn’t need your attention, then don’t bother him and let him be for as long as possible. For example, if he wakes up and plays alone in the crib, leave him for awhile.
Check this blog out for tips for stay-at-home-mom.
Good luck and staying home mom is a very hard job. My husband doesn’t work and he only stays home with the kid 2 days a week. He doesn’t cook nor clean the house for those 2 days. He does everything else on the other days.
I gave my cat a time out the other day by putting him underneath the laundry basket because he was sitting by the door screaming to get outside for 20 minutes – even though he’s never been outside in his life – and it was making me insane.
Clearly, I am not in any way qualified to give you advice on child-rearing.
But I am totally qualified to say happy belated birthday, and I hope the blues fade fast!
You are not alone! It is true, women have been staying home with their babies for years and years, but times have changed. You are not a failure. In order for you to be the mother and wife that you feel you should be, you have to take care of yourself first. It is not a crime to take Emory to a babysitter or daycare for two hours while you go to the doctor, or get a haircut.
While Emory may be the light of your life now, photography is a long coveted passion for you; you need to embrace it. Take the time to please yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it.
I think it would be helpful or you if you looked up Erik Erickson’s Developmental theory; I think it will make you feel better to know that Emory’s cries for attention are absolutley normal, and actually, it is good for him to cry for attention for a little while.
What you are feeling is totally normal (normal mom feelings and normal 34th birthday feelings—Happy Birthday, by the way…). Give yourself permission to find a good babysitter (or daycare) and get some stuff done. The time apart is good for both you and Emory. It is good for you because you can reconnect with yourself (and TJ) and it is good for Emory because he gets to experience new people and new things (essential for learning and growing).
I could go on and on boring you with developmental theory, but I won’t. The bottom line is, every time Emory encounters something or someone new, he learns from the experience. And, the less stressed , frazzled, and cranky you are, the better your interactions with Emory will be.
Wow, egirl, can I give you access to my Web site and you can rewrite this post for me? You did a much better job at summing it up in one very coherent paragraph. Thanks for that.
cyn, someday I’d actually love it for you to go on a developmental theory tangent. When, you know, you have spare time that you don’t have. heh
Everyone else has said pretty much everything there is to say, so I will just tell you what I have found in my limited experience being a mom (that being a whole 4.5 months): After I have been away from Matthew for a period of time, I find that I look forward to seeing his little smiling face again that much more than if I had not taken the time away. At first, that realization made me feel oh-so guilty. But then it hit me that it shouldn’t. We are all many things, not just mommies, and if we only focus on the mommy part, well, it stands to reason that the other parts of who we are will suffer in some way.
I admit I don’t have the time to focus on the many facets of my personality the way I used to. But I try very hard to make sure I don’t completely neglect any of them. I love to read, for example. I know I can’t read as much as I used to, so I have “accepted” the fact that reading a few chapters a week is OK. I love to travel. I realize that the trip around Italy this summer is now out…so I am focusing on how much fun the three of us are going to have when we go camping with my parents and hang out at the beach.
I absolutely don’t want to come across as “preachy,” because heaven knows I haven’t had enough experience. All I know is that when I focus on me a bit, magically I end up being able to focus on my son and my husband more. Huh.
You are doing an awesome job at every aspect of your life! It’s not easy. I happily quit my BIG job when my second son was born. I flaundered around unhappily for the first year. It was so hard and why didn’t I love every minute of it? It’s what I always wanted, so why didn’t I feel like I was doing a great job too? I asked myself all the same questions about our mothers’ before us (how did they do this?). The best thing that happened was when I started taking them to Parents-Day-Out at a local church. I did a morning here and there. I really felt like I came out of this heavy fog. I’m such a better mom with that weekly break. Of course, as Emory gets older (12-18months)you will start to feel more like your self, like the woman, wife, and mother you knew you always would be. Lack of sleep is such a big issue that we often overlook. Somedays we just have to be happy that we showered! Happy Late Bithday!!!
Right now, I am sitting in my unmade bed with my six week old on my lap. I have tried to do so many things this morning; hang up pictures in his room finally, clean the bottles, eat something besides a luna bar but to no avail. His crying is timed just perfectly to about the 6th minute of me getting something done. I finally gave up an hour ago and now have in my bed my camera, my laptop, boppy, a New Yorker, burp cloth, pacifier, various baby toys (that he could care less about) and my second cup of cold coffee sitting next to me. So I hear you loud and clear.
I also live in nyc, have a part-time job that I’m supposed to go back to (I freelance from home too) and a husband that works so hard to support this lifestyle. I am unsure how I will possibly be able to get back to my work (which I love and don’t want to give up) but feel like I cannot let go of making sure this little guy is raised the way I want him to be raised, ie: without the help of strangers. But I’m beginning to think that for my sanity and his (and my husband’s) – a part time babysitter may just be the key. I’m even considering having one in my house while I work at home.
I wish I had advice to offer but just wanted to let you know that if nothing else you are helping other moms. It’s comforting to know that someone else out there is also staring off into space wondering what the hell they got themselves in to. I hope you feel better soon. If you are anything like me, it’s a good day followed by a bad one, followed by another good one, which makes it all the more maddening!
Thanks for being honest too. Up to now I thought you had a super baby that never gave you any problems!
Oh sweet sweet Mihow!
Please do yourself and your family the biggest of favors and spend one day a week on “Mihow” time. Get a sitter or a daycare (socializing babies is good!) provider and take a time out. It’s the best thing you can do for your family. Making sure you’re happy is the least selfish thing you’ll ever do for your family.
You’re a wonderful beautiful Mother and Wife, maybe taking the time to reflect on that will help you see it more clearly.
I understand this is hard. I’m a new mom too. I have found that the thing that has helped me most is wearing my baby in a carrier or sling. He’s 4 months now and can be carried in the hip carry in a sling. He also loves being carried in the Baby Bjorn. It allows me to get things done, and it allows him to have a very exciting view of the world. He is getting heavy, but I see it as a great way to tone some of my muscles while I’m carrying him. I even do squats with him in it, which he LOVES. It usually results in him squealing and kicking his feet. I would highly recommend it. Best of luck.
Jamie said “You’re a wonderful beautiful Mother and Wife, maybe taking the time to reflect on that will help you see it more clearly.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, and would like to also add that you are a wonderful WOMAN. You’re a wife and a mom and those are wonderful things but you were Michele before you were either of those things. Right now you’re juggling a lot and parts of your life that you cherished before you were a wife, before you were a mother, are taking a backseat right now. And it’s got to be hard as hell and frustrating but take a deep breath and trust that it WILL all fall into place.
I am going to once again volunteer my services as babysitter, home cooked meal deliverer, shoulder to cry on, ear to vent to, or any combination of those things. We’re enough alike, you and I, that I know you’ll think you’re imposing but you’re not, so please, let me know how to help, okay sweetie? Big hugs.
I am home with my little one for the duration as well (not sure when I’ll return to work) but my New Year’s resolution is: Find part-time childcare! There is no shame in getting a few hours of relief, even if you are devoted to staying home, you know? I haven’t struggled much with PPD (knock wood) but a few things that have kept me sane are 1) getting outside at least once a day, even to run errands (this does not always happen) and 2) the daily shower is non-negotiable. I think everybody has a different “non-negotiable” but that is my one requirement that just helps me to feel sane and well, like me. (This does not mean that my legs are always-
or ever, for that matter-shaved or my hair washed but at least I get clean and dressed.)
It’s funny—we ALL think everybody is doing it so much better than we are. Here I was admiring the hell out of you for updating your blog every day and putting so much effort into researching BPA! I feel like a slacker most of the time…
I should be in the shower now, since we are over 40 minutes into one of my daughter’s 40 minute naps. Instead, I thought I’d comment to say I’m right there with you. My health has just been yo-yoing since I had my little girl. This may be too much info., but I’m currently holding a hot pack to my boob in the hopes that one of the two pink, somewhat tender spots will work themselves out. I’m trying to wean her, at least completely from the left side, as I need to have a mole removed.
I managed to vacuum her room around her while she sat on the floor this morning, and that felt like major progress. Since she’ll be crawling soon, I feel this overwhelming urge to get the floors clean (finally!) but don’t have any time to do that.
Do you have an exersaucer? Our little girl loves hers and she’ll play in that on her own in the morning when she is happiest for enough time for me to eat some breakfast and make some coffee. And best of all…she can STAND in it (her most favorite activity).
Must shower now!
Michelle, you and I have so much in common…PPD, thyroid issues, feeling like you don’t have time for yourself because of baby “demands,” etc. And to top it all off, we recently found out that Adeline is SEVERELY allergic to our dog and cat. So allergic, in fact, that we have to find them new homes. I’ve had my cat since he was born, 9 1/2 years ago. I can’t set Adeline on the floor because the dog and cat will want to be near her. I have to constantly watch her while she’s in her chair or exersaucer because of the animals. I get to shower maybe twice a week. My husband is great, he’ll tell me to get out of the house and go do whatever I want to do when he gets home…but then I feel guilty about not giving him time to himself because he’s training for a marathon.
There are days that the house will be a disaster, I need to shower, it’s the afternoon and I haven’t even eaten yet, so I will go drop off Adeline at her daycare (they offer flexible hours, any day of the week, and it’s half a mile away from our house—we got incredibly lucky). Then here’s the kicker: I don’t come home and clean. I eat, maybe shower, and basically lounge around the house. I read blogs, watch a movie, do whatever I want for a few hours then go back to pick her up. I don’t do anything that I NEED to do, I do things that I WANT to do. It’s so important to have time to yourself, as everyone else here has said.
Adeline is actually at daycare right now, just so I can play with Keyser and Milo (the cat and dog) and not worry about Adeline’s allergies. In a couple hours, I’ll change my clothes, wash my hands, and go pick her up. Give yourself permission to leave Emory with someone every now and then. Even if all you do is go home and take a nap.
Michelle I really have no new advice to give you that someone else has not already provided. So instead I hope I can make you laugh by letting you know that I read this post on my iPhone while pumping in the bathroom at work. I waited until I got back to desk and computer to respond though. I can only do so much while pumping ;)
Pascha: you said “My husband is great, he’ll tell me to get out of the house and go do whatever I want to do when he gets home…but then I feel guilty about not giving him time to himself because he’s training for a marathon.”
You nailed it. TobyJoe gets zero alone time. He doesn’t take a minute of just him time. He goes to work and comes home and takes over for me. So, in a way he’s even more wrapped up in this than I am. He gives me two nights and two mornings a week to go to yoga.
If I were to do much more than that, I’d feel so guilty since he never gets alone time. Hell, even going to yoga makes me feel sad for him.
So, Toby? If you read this, you simply must start taking time for yourself. Please.
Shelby, I once pumped, ate, and wrote a blog post all at the same time. But TJ made me a contraption for doing it hands free. Have you done this yet? It will change everything.
That is exactly why you need a babysitter. Not only does tobyjoe need “me”time, but you need time together without Em. Take Jenblossom up on her offer to babysit-
if she is offering, it isn’t an imposition. I always bug my brother and friends with kids to let me babysit-I love the time I get to spend with all of my nephews (blood related or not).
Thank you for continuing to write. This post pulled at my heartstrings, taught me so much about being a mom, and a woman, and finished off so beautifully… If I lived anywhere near you, or had actually met you (hehe) I would offer to come by.. perhaps you need some more “real people” interaction? or just a few good phone calls…and they can be the one to pick Emory up and move him around, and you can do something other than holding him.
A friend of mine has a baby that she couldn’t put down until he started walking. And we looked at her as if she didn’t know what she was doing. Who does know what they are doing, and who the heck would EVER try to make it so that was the way their life had to be? I feel awful for ever thinking that way for an instant, and being critical of her parenting.
i’m (with or without andy) officially signing up for babysitting! will gladly give up saturday or sunday afternoon for you and toby to spend some time alone, out of the house. :)
You are not alone, as all the posts make very clear. My daughter is 5 and I still struggle with all this stuff. Hiring someone to help, even 3 days a week for 3 hours a day (as I did) would make a huge positive impact on your life, trust me. If Toby has a dependant care savings account through his work, you can pay for it using that pre-tax money and it really is money well spent so you can regain a fraction of yourself and have some time to recharge your batteries, so to speak.
I actually think about all this stuff frequently. Before I had my daughter, I thought I could easily be the modern super mom: working, being a good mom, etc. I have juggled working, a special needs kid, a house…but I always feel behind the gun and always feel inadequate. I wonder, did our mothers feel this way (mine has passed so I can’t ask her). Did our grandmothers feel this way? Have women throughout time felt this way? Is it the curse of being a mother? Do men every feel this stuff? Do we do this to ourselves or do we feel a huge societal pressure to be perfect?
What you are feeling is completely normal. Society puts a great deal of pressure on new mothers to believe that if they can’t do it all on their own (full time mom, breast feed, look beautiful, be happy, enjoy mothering 24/7, etc) then they are some sort of failure. Fundamentally not true. Some women are great at the “business of babies”, that is to say taking care of them all the time. Other women may enjoy parts of it but need more in their day to feel complete. Many women find themselves in the situation you are in now. What I will say is that despite what others will tell you…YOU must come first. If you are not mentally, emotionally and physically taken care of, you can’t do your job as a wife and mother and a human being! It may be a good idea to think about resuming part-time work, even if that means the income earned goes toward childcare for the time you spend working. Or you may want to consider meet-ups, more time with friends, other new mothers, etc. It is great that TobyJoe helps out and gives you the time to go to yoga—I imagine that this small break is what has been helping you maintain your sanity during this time. Having a baby is a huge adjustment for all, especially when you don’t have any childcare assistance. You don’t get “do-overs” and for your sake and your sons you must remember to take care of you too.
Do you know what I want? I want women to stop feeling pressured to love every part of motherhood. It’s not natural! Honestly, I’d say I love about 15 percent of it. And that 15 percent makes it all worth it, but I definitely have days where I wonder. And I’m sure my mother felt the same way.
I love my kids; I do my best. No mother is perfect, especially me.
I have a ton of respect for you and my other girlfriends who stay home. I don’t know how I would make it without work. If you do choose to go back, please don’t feel guilty about it. Emory will turn out just fine as long as you love him and do what’s best for you. Because if you’re not happy, you can’t be a good mama.
I just said to TobyJoe, “I’m not sure how this happened, but generally, the people who visit here are some really wonderful people. I am lucky.”
Thank you, everyone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I don’t have much to add beyond a promise that it does get better. I know everyone told me this when mine was a baby as well and I never really believed them and it didn’t really help me get through the endless days, but it is true. Emory is entering a tough phase- I remember 6 months until my daughter started walking as the most difficult and frustrating.
Have you tried posting something on craigslist or finding other moms with babies the same age somewhere local? Even having one local friend with a baby would probably make a huge difference. Even if you guys just sit around together doing nothing, it would be better.
Oh Mihow how I feel for you. Everything you are saying was exactly what I went through when I had Isabel. It was so hard for me accepting my new identity. I had planned on going back to work part-time but my boss convinced me that I if I had the opportunity to stay home with my daughter that I should take it. I did just that was it was not easy as you know.
My parents lived somewhat close by but like you we did not use a nanny or any kind of baby sitter/ day care at all. At that time Mike was working from home, which was very helpful for me as I was able start back at school part-time once Isabel turned 3 months. Mike would watch Isabel when I was in classes at night.
What I found that helped me a lot was having a friend who was a first-time mom like my self whose baby was the same age as mine. Even if we our babies’ nap schedules didn’t mesh (which was quite often) I had the option of at least conversing/ venting on the phone about what our kid were doing and the like. It really helped. Isabel and Hannah are still great friends six years later.
As everyone else has said, what you are dealing with is so normal. Even now I go back and forth about staying home with the girls….But it gets better, oh so much better once they get older. Once they get older you can spend so much time with them taking them all sorts of places…like museums, the parks, the beach….while all of those other poor souls have to go to work! NYC has all sorts of great places to go with kids…..But at the same time this age is just as great.
Mihow you are doing a wonderful job. You have a beautiful little boy and a super supportive husband and you are doing the most important job in the world. Whoever said that the Peace Corps was the hardest job you will ever love obviously was not a stay-at-home-mom! :o)
Whew….finally made it through all the comments before mine and I have to say you are all a bunch of awesome people…I feel like so often you read parenting blogs or blogs written by stay at home parents and the writer will open up about some vulnerability only to get attacked by commenters. So bravo on being awesome everyone :)
Also, I just wanted to say that I don’t have a baby yet. Earlier this year my husband and I decided it would be a good time to start trying and as soon as we decided to start trying, I got cold feet. Big time. And it’s because I’m petrified of feeling this same way. In some ways it’s terrifying to read an entry like this and see that it can be a real issue, something that affects people pretty deeply, and in other ways it’s incredibly comforting to know that you can feel this way and still churn out a pretty awesome blog and get tons of support from your readers.
So, I know I don’t have a baby and I know that I have no idea what’s in store for me, but I can tell you that in talking to my husband about my nerves over the past few weeks we’ve decided that if we’re going to do this, we’re going to figure out a budget so that while I’m away from work after having the baby we’ll be able to afford some babysitting every week. It’ll be someone who will come to our house, at least one day, possibly two. I don’t need to be out of the house when the babysitter is here, but I do need to be taking me time. I’m prone to depression already, so I know it’s important for me to take proactive steps to keep myself from falling into a black hole that I can’t get myself out of. Seems like it’s more important than usual in this case.
I have some girlfriends who have kids who tell me that I shouldn’t bother to plan stuff like this out in advance, that motherhood will defy all my expectations and ruin even the best laid plans. I don’t care. I know what I need to do to make myself feel better and more secure about all of this and I’ll work on doing those things and I’ll adjust them when I need to.
All of which is to say…I think that’s what you should do too. It sounds from your post almost as though what you’re most craving is to be outside more – even if you’re with Emory. It’s hard now, for sure, because of the weather, but take advantage of ANY warm(ish) spells to go for a long walk. Just throw Emory in his stroller or sling or whatever you want and get out there. Once the spring comes that’ll be easier, obviously.
Also, really do consider all the wonderful babysitting offers you’ve received. Even a weekday afternoon that you have to yourself would probably feel so good, and Emory would be taken care of and have all the attention he needs and you would probably feel so refreshed and guilt free (since you wouldn’t be taking up your husband’s time).
I agree with the previous commenter who talked about the fact that taking care of yourself and making sure you’re happy and healthy are an integral part of being a good mom. Some people see it as being selfish, I say nothing is selfish if it allows you to provide a happy little vibe when you’re around your baby, you know?
I forgot to mention something else: I agree with the person above that said find someone else with a child to get together with, even if you just hang out. my best friend has a daughter two months older than Adeline. Between her schedule as an air traffic controller and my schedule of nursing school, work, and Adeline, I see her once a week. We have a standing Wednesday “daytime date” to get together. We usuallly spend it at her place lounging on the bed, watching Tivo’d episodes of shows, eating lunch, and talking while the babies play with each other on the floor. Sometimes we go shopping. Sometimes we each find a babysitter and do something without the babies.
I cannot stress enough how valuable that time is. Do it if you can.
Motherhood, here I come . . .
In 3 months I’ll have my first child. Yours and my situations are different (I will have to work, while my husband will work from home – not what either of us wanted but what is parenthood except doing what you have to do?) You go stir crazy. I think I’ll go crazy missing my kid. The thing is, I think no matter what you do, whether it’s what you decided or what the world threw at you, you’re going to go crazy. Dude, I feel guilty about not giving enough love and attention to my cat and dog. I cannot imagine the magnitude of mother guilt that is coming my way once I have this child. Pile the wife guilt on top of that . . . and it’s hard to imagine if I’ll ever feel good about our lives again.
So, I don’t want to turn this into me me me – I just want to say, the guilt and the no time and the not good enough feeling is something that I understand, and I share with you. You’ll never be good enough. Neither will I. Except we will – we’ll be better than good enough. Our husbands will love us, our babies will flourish, and we’ll go gray worrying about them. Maybe, just maybe, after a few years of experience of this motherhood thing, we’ll find it easier to cut ourselves a break.
PS Can anyone say Seasonal Affective Disorder?? BRING ON THE FREAKING SPRING already, this blah winter weather doesn’t help anybody much, does it?
Babies are weird. Right after I wrote this, Emory decided to be really, really god. Not only that, but he hasn’t screamed since yesterday morning and the fake coughing is back. God bless my son.
Again, you guys rule. I can only hope that your words will help others who find their way here via google. :] You have helped me more than words can say.
Yeah, spring would be nice. We haven’t even seen snow, bastard weather.
I can’t really speak to your specific parenting fears (except to say that you are “hardwired” to do the right thing for your kid – so don’t beat yourself up too much). But as an artist and a father I can certainly empathize and add (quite depressingly) that making work during the first year can be a challenge. However, consider the silver lining – it is a great opportunity to clean up the old resume and apply for grants or exhibitions from home. That way, when you are ready to actively make artwork again, you won’t have a “cold start”.
My wife and I were in a chaos spiral of too little time and money when our daughter was born. When she was 3 months old I quite my job in Washington DC and we moved to Raleigh, NC to spend six months in a warm and affordable city focusing on the “big picture” while living off savings. In that time, my wife finished her PhD dissertation, I found a cheap studio and made a ton of art, and both of us had gobs of time with our kid. We both took turns doing being full-time stay at home parents and managed to make major strides in our careers without actually having jobs.
My point is simply to say that parenting is impossible without having to re-define (or think counter intuitively about) your identity. You role as artist, mother, wife, etc. may not be what you imagined – but at the same time, with each added identity comes the opportunity to integrate a new parameter for how you qualify happiness or success.
and happy birthday.
Reading your comment reiterated why I am finding it more and more impossible to live in NYC. It’s just too pricey to have the space and/or time and/or funds to do what I really want to do. Even if I wanted to throw pottery here, I either can’t find a class that works with my schedule and even if I could afford it, I can’t afford to have someone watch Emory on top of paying for a class. I don’t have the space to buy a wheel of my own. We don’t have the room to set up our darkroom. (I have all the equipment, but no space).
New York City offers up a lot of opportunity but the funny thing about it is, a lot of people I know have actually given things up because they simply can’t afford to continue with their hobbies or they don’t have the energy, space, or time. Doesn’t that seem absurd? You pay all this money to live here and you find it hard to do the things you really want to do, that really make you happy.
Perhaps, I’m just bitter about living here right now.
Here are some things that I wish someone had told me when my kids were little. They’re 13 and 9 now, and I went back to work a year and a half ago after being a SAHM for 11 years.
1. I learned with my second child that being ignored by Mom a little (when they’re content and rested with a full tummy) makes a more independent kid. Buy a baby gym or an exersaucer (do they still make those?) and put some groovy toys around your little guy and let him go to town. Put him in his bouncy seat or swing in front of a window while you do the dishes, watch tv, shower or whatever. Sing to him and talk to him if you feel like it, but try to let him do his own thing for a few minutes. You and he will be better for it.
2. Being the mom of a baby/toddler is very isolating. When your son is in preschool, a whole new social life will open up to you. I made my best friends at my kids’ school.
3. If preschool sounds a long way off, it’s not. You think they’ll be totally helpless babies forever, but the first year goes by the fastest. Enjoy it as much as you can by taking care of yourself too.
Hope this didn’t come off sounding preachy! Hugs!
Thanks, Mel. Not preachy at all. Thanks for that.
Also, check this link out. NYC is 4th most miserable city to live in. Must. Get. Out.
Abandoning your interests is very different than redefining how they manifest in your life. Perhaps you can’t throw or develop film on your budget/schedule/space restrictions – so maybe you sketch, make small paintings, do more digital photography, or investigate interactive web art. It’s all the same on some level and just have faith that you’ll either get back “on track” down the road or you’ll fully embrace your new media and make a killing in Chelsea. Perhaps your motherhood itself is ripe for artistic documentation (ala Mary Kelly). Don’t allow the trials of parenthood to be an excuse for giving up on your artistic struggles – in fact you may find that, though exhausting, parenting makes every other hardship seem downright easy.
I wanted to add, “Happy Birthday,” and if I sent you a card I would say: All of the good feelings I send your way are payback for how your website sustained me when I was in a similar situation. I found your site when my 2nd child was 6mos old and my 1st was 2.5 yo. I worked 40 hours a week from home with the only aid arriving when my husband got home from work. I had no time for hobbies and virtually no face-to-face time with anyone outside of my house until the weekend. Previously my main hobby was reading & I had no time for it anymore. I started reading blogs in the small amount of free time I had and three years later I’m still reading yours while most others have fallen by the wayside(and I actually have time to read books again.) You’ve been reliable, entertaining, informative, and I really feel a sense of community with the people who comment. I hope occasionally the little I’ve learned can help you or someone else feel better, since you’ve made my day better many, many times.
Oh my-and this is the reason I read your blog, your writing is beautiful.
I have a 4 month old and understand that feeling of loneliness that being a stay-at-home Mom can bring. It’s when I start having full conversations with the baby and the cats that I start to worry. And the lack of brain cells? Last night I had to ask my husband what the opposite of vague was. I was an English major in college. Shouldn’t I know that? haha- And, don’t worry, I feel like I’m failing or flailing every day. But someone once said that if a person had all the answers about children, they didn’t have any of their own.
Hey! Feliz belated cumpleanos. And please keep writing. It makes the loneliness, at least on my end, go away a little.
Pascha—I’m SURE you have investigated every option up and down, but just in case, I wanted to let you know that I grew up severly allergic to dogs and cats as well (asthma plus allergies, at one time took 8 pills a day plus inhaler—starting at age 2) but there are SO MANY more options now, medication-wise. I’ve been to tons of doctors over the years but it was actually my mom who determined the regimen I’m on now by talking to people and doing lots of research. The upshot is that I naturally outgrew the worst of my allergies, but that being on the newer medications (as well as Hepa filters, special washable A/C filters, etc) has allowed me to have two dogs with zero problems.
Anyway, if you want to talk about it, give me a shout-out at kidkate at gmail. And no judgments, of course! If you’d rather find homes for your pets to spare your daughter medication at such a young age (it wasn’t possible for me, even without the pets), totally understood. I live in fear that my 4-month-old will develop allergies to our two dogs, so I totally respect whatever decision you have to make.
Mihow, sorry for hijacking your comments!
dude. you are scaring me. oh, yeah, and happy birthday.
hang in there…
I agree with all the other posters before that it is really important to make some friends/a friend with a baby close to the same age. It is amazing what the interaction will do for you. Think of it like dating though. It might take some time to find another mom that is the right fit for you. The worst part is you have to do the asking out and you might get rejected but just keep trying! Look for events or story hours close to your home. You’d be surprised how many moms will come with babies too young to ‘get’ a story hour just to be out of the house. I definitely had to try several times before I got a good match and it wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the other moms I met (Ok—there was with one but that is just too long of a story) but we just didn’t click. I was fortunate to get into a good play group with four other moms. As our kids started preschool and mother’s morning out, we didn’t see each other as much (and definitely not after I went back to work fulltime) maybe four times a year. When Simone was in Children’s, these were some of my best supporters; more so than some of my oldest friends. It’s not that my other friends didn’t care. Most don’t have kids though and so they couldn’t relate on the same level as other moms can.
PS-A Very Belated Happy B’day! Can’t wait to see you:)
I know this has probably been said already in various ways in prior comments.
This high demand baby time WILL be over sooner than later. It will NOT always be this way. I remember the feeling that I would never again be able to just sit and have a meal, or go grocery shopping without the greatest of effort. Now my kids are 8 and 13 and it’s a different kind of hard.
Now we argue about how much eye shadow is too much.
Hang in there.
Oh Michelle, I wish I could baby-sit for you. I don’t have children, but I want you to know I just had a long weekend with two of my good friends who have kids – I asked them about just this and they echoed you exactly. They felt overwhelmed at the beginning and like failures sometimes, etc. I guess what I am getting at is while it must feel really shitty, it sounds like it is very normal.
I’m not a mother, so I’m not sure how credible this will be. I do have several friends and a sister who’ve have kids and been closely involved with them, so maybe…? What you are feeling is normal. Wish it wasn’t, but every mother I know have been brought to her knees by that first year of motherhood, the steep learning curve, feeling like you’ve no idea what you’re doing, feeling like you’re failing, because other women can’t be having thsi much trouble, etc. The mothers who found a support group – like a “Mom & Tots” kind of thing, either in real life or online – did better. At least they knew it was normal.
Best of luck.
p.s. happy birthday!
I didnt really know what to say until I read Lene’s post. My mom told me that when I was a baby, and I was a “good one”, she felt like she was losing her mind. And this was in sunny, rural (back then) Miami. She said she would look at people and just think, each one of these was a baby, so someone had to raise them. How did they do it?? I thought it was funny at the time, but now I can see the other side, through you and many other tales I have read.
I was telling a colleague a tale about my little girl today and she made one the most accurate short descriptions of motherhood I’ve heard:
There isn’t a better or harder job on Earth than being a mother.
I think so many of us feel this isolation at times. I have tried to make an effort to get out of the house for just a bit most days this week, and while it has been hard to organize around a baby that is hungry all the time (and I’ve paid for this at least once this week), it has been worth it just to get out into the fresh air, see other faces, and most of all, see her respond to those other faces. She loves to smile at people when they talk to her. She smiles at other babies and kids and makes squeal sounds that are entirely new. I am starting to realize that I really need to try to get out to see some other moms/babies, both for me and for her.
So, thank you for writing this post, it has helped me realize that a lot of us go through these ups and downs. And thanks to all the great commenters…lots of support here…what a great crew.
You’ve had quite a few comments telling you that how you feel is normal…but I don’t think it’s something we can hear “too much”. LOL Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating. Add in your health struggles and just not feeling well (I have health issues of another variety that impact my ability to parent at times) and you end up at THIS place. Joining a mother’s group helped me a lot. The first group I found was online. All we had in common was that our kids were all born in the same month/year. It was enough for a start. Then I found an IRL group of women who all had kids in the baby/toddler stage. Later, I ignored all the negativity from my mother and some of my mother’s group friends and put my son into day care for 2 half days a week. Sometimes all I would do was sleep. That little bit of “me time” each week was really helpful. Just remember, the needy baby stage is just that. A stage. They get more independent and do more self play as they get older. I hope you get some answers and help with your health concerns soon. That will help your state of mind a LOT.
Your commenters have really been helping me too, because I feel exactly the same way as you do right now. My baby is 6 months old and it has been such a hard hard adjustment. I look at other mothers and think “how are they doing it so easily when it’s so hard for me?” Most days by the end of the day I am shocked to discover I have somehow not even changed out of the yoga pants and awful too-big flannel shirt I wore to bed.
I joined a playgroup and talking to other moms is sometimes helpful and affirming, but I admit sometimes makes me feel even more like they are doing a great job, but I’m not. Maybe it’s a matter of meeting the right people to connect with.
Anyway, I just wanted to say you’re not alone – I am sure there are tons of us who feel just the same… Thanks to you for posting so honestly, and thanks to your commenters for such wonderful supportive words.