“Tai, how old are you?” “I’ll be 16 in May.” “My birthday is in April. As someone older can I please give you some advice?”
With five weeks behind me as a mother I’ve noticed a few things. No sense robbing the world of my wisdom.
* Everything has the ability to make you fret. If your child is wailing for an hour and you put them in the crib and they calm down you’ll start to worry within three minutes of leaving the room that something is wrong. If they sleep through the night you’ll worry that something is wrong. Eat a lot? A little? Something’s wrong. They cuddle up under your neck and it’s the cutest thing ever, right? Sure, until you start worrying that they’re blocking their mouth and nasal passages. Mothers of newborns could give Woody Allen a run for his neuroses.
* The Internet is the greatest invention ever. Just Google any combination of substance you or your child is ejecting plus a verb plus the words “baby” or “post-natal” and you will instantly learn of 100 other parents also experiencing this malady as well as doctors and other professional experts offering the solution. Thank you, Al Gore!
* The Internet is a scourge wrought upon humanity for its wickedness. Googling your or your child’s latest malady yields the blathering of scores of cranks and quacks who all contradict one another with their ridiculous advice that leaves you more confused than when you started. Go suck a lemon, Al Gore!
* Forget the Internet anyway. Just call or visit your child’s pediatrician or your doctor. No matter what you describe to them they will respond, “Oh that’s totally normal.” Your child’s head is spinning 360 degrees? Totally normal. Your lower abdomen has suddenly contorted into the shape of a Frank Gehry building? Totally normal.
* You will suffer extreme paranoia that everyone is judging you. In your defense, everyone is judging you.
* If you thought you were intellectually superior for reading the Sunday Times before just wait until you have a baby. Reading one wedding announcement on the Vows page now makes you feel worthy of a Charlie Rose interview.
* You will rail against the parents who put a happy face on the post-natal experience, never speaking honestly about the myriad physical, emotional and logistical strains. “They were all lyingggg!” you will wail in one of your more broken down moments. And then you will go out and do the exact same thing, exclaiming cheerily, “It’s going great!” when anyone asks how it’s going.
* People will tell you, “Nap when the baby naps!” These people either have nannies or no children. Because it is impossible. Do you know who naps when the baby naps? The one who doesn’t worry about the cleaning, pumping, cooking, bill paying, and working from home. That person does not nap when the baby naps.
* You wait feverishly for your husband to walk through the door in the evening. Then you spend much of the time he’s home eying him with suspicion, wondering if he thinks you laze about all day napping while the baby naps.
* You wonder how you were ever, even for one nanosecond, a snot with your own parents. You also wonder why you didn’t call them every day of college just to let them know you were still alive.
Finally, the most important piece of wisdom I’ve gleaned:
* Babies are awesome. They have beautiful eyes and their hair smells like cinnamon. The first time they give you a genuine smile it goes a long way to diminishing the junk above.