Let’s just get this one out of the way.
You’re doing it. You started at around two months. There’s now a white bump under your bottom gums, and it’s torturing you. I hate it so much for you. There will be a string of three days in a row that you are just inconsolable unless you’re sleeping or eating. Then the stubborn tooth seems to take a break for a day or so before redoubling its beastly efforts to cut through your sweet, pink mouth.
I never thought I would feel so helpless in the face of dental issues. However, you’re also not supposed to be teething already. All the parenting books read that teething starts between four and six months. This is particularly unfortunate because for the first two months of your life you apparently had terrible reflux.
At your two-month checkup, your pediatrician, Dr. V, prescribed Zantac. This after weeks of you spitting up after every feeding and sometimes even screaming during feedings. Finding out that the reason was because your poor throat was on fire made me cry at the doctor’s office. I didn’t know. If I’d had an inkling I would have demanded you’d been treated earlier.
But as the indomitable Lily Tomlin once said, “Forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past.” I can’t change those eight weeks of your life full of fiery throats and spitting up. I can only chalk it up to experience and forgive my new mother lapse. I thought it was normal. I was wrong. I will do better. Best of all, you won’t remember. But I will.
I went back to work when you were 11 weeks old. That first day was terrible for me. I cried as I left the house, during my commute, while I sipped a latte at my desk and pumped milk for you, while I scrolled through pictures I had taken of you on my phone, that your father sent me hourly, on Facebook, etc. But the next day was a little better. And the next better than that. Now I type this up on the last day of my first week at work, and I’m much better. I only cried on the way into work this morning because Edwin McCain was reminding me how I’ll always be the greatest fan of your life. Damn sappy songs.
You and your father are doing just fine on your own.
You go shopping at Home Depot together.
You go to Storytime at the library together.
You read books, learn the alphabet and your numbers in the morning.
You do tummy time and play on your kick pad every day.
In short, you hardly even notice I’m gone. If your father had a set of lactation devices, you wouldn’t need me at all. And as bittersweet as that thought is, it also soothes me to know you’re not upset that I’m at work.
I remember, when I was in pre-school and kindergarten, the kids that always cried when mom or dad dropped them off for the day. They would wail and scream as the parent walked back to their car, tapping on the window with streaming eyes and noses. I don’t remember ever putting my mom through that at drop off. I was always excited to see my friends and play with the toys. I couldn’t understand why those kids were freaking out when in a few short hours, the parents would be back.
That’s how I want you to feel. Mom and Dad will always come back. So there’s no reason to be upset when they aren’t around. You aren’t abandoned. Why should you worry? Especially when there’s books and toys and playgrounds to enjoy. You’ve got all you need. Always. I hope you’ll feel that way your whole life.
This morning, after that damn sappy song, I was thinking about how amazing it is to have been chosen to be your mother. Even though I still have beef with the idea of a heavenly father, I do have a spiritual side. In my mind, there was a meeting, and you were in line to head down here to Earth. In this scenario, you had a choice. You could be born to many different families. And after we waited so long to get pregnant, what made you decide to choose us? What did you see in me that made you think, “Yes, she will be my mother?”
This blog post has been making the rounds on my Facebook feed for a few days now. It was published back in February, but it’s really speaking to me right now. Through the reflux, the teething, the multiple feedings all night long, I wonder why you chose me. And I try to remember that you’ll never need me as much again. You already don’t need me like you did when you were first born. You sleep for longer stretches. You can support your own neck and look any way you like. And you definitely have formed an opinion about bathtime and bedtime.
So when you’re grumping in your swing despite the fact that we’ve changed you, fed you, rocked you, walked you, sang to you, given you gas drops, teething tablets, teething rings, our fingers to chew on, etc. I try to remember that you chose me. And you’ll never, ever, ever again need me as much as you do now. So I try to be there for you in your misery that I can do nothing to assuage. Last night, I played the ukulele for you as the swing tried to lure you back to calmness. I don’t know if it worked, or you just decided I was a crazy woman with a blue mini guitar who had reached dangerous levels of lunacy. You eventually calmed listening to my inexpert strumming and clunky chords.
For better or worse, you chose me. We’re stuck together now. Ukulele, teething, grumping, working, learning, growing and all. And we’ve made it to three months. I know we’ll make it all the way. Because we’re definitely a family now.
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