Ava's going to be seven months old this week, and I think I've finally gotten a grasp on how to be a mom. Or at least pretend to be one (because in all honesty, I look in the mirror and wonder who that 30-year-old is looking back at me. It's not me, I reason, since I'll forever feel 23). And I have to say I "think" I've gotten a grasp because I'm still not sure, seven months later, if I'm doing everything right. Perhaps there is no "right" in this parenting chapter of anyone's life. After all, what's right when your baby has poop blowouts out the backs of her diapers? Or you speak baby gibberish in public, sometimes even accidentally to other adults, or find yourself picking your baby's nose and not thinking twice about it. In the worlds of Bob Dylan, "It ain't me babe." Or is it?
I might not be doing everything right, but I've learned as I go, and I think I've edged into a rhythm with Ava that is not only manageable now, but fun. I'm not sure when the erratic chaos of being abruptly thrust into a new phase of life morphed into a gentle and manageable hum, but it happened. Kind of like going to sleep one night after weeks of stress and suffering, and waking up one morning as not only wholly embracing of that which you fought against, but actually loving it. That happened to me, and since then everything's gotten easier. Like I said, the dust has settled and now I feel like this baby thing has become an easy, steady whir.
Of course it's not easy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but compared to how it was in the beginning, I would say Ava's become a walk in the park. Her sleeping patterns still aren't perfect, and she still has her little crying temper tantrums every time she's put down for a nap (I've decided she looks like a cartoon baby turtle when she cries), but with every hardship she throws at me, I dig deep for patience I never knew I had, and I deal with it. Through this last seven months I've learned that I actually have more patience than I ever thought I was capable of -- a fact that not only impresses me, but frightens me as well.
Now that things have died down to a whir, I find myself getting more time to write and my book is slowly and steadily coming along. I plan to have it finished by this summer, and hopefully edited and out to literary agents by the end of the year. I'm having a lot of fun writing it, so I relish in the moments I do get to work on it. J's read pieces of it and suggested I post excerpts of it on this blog, which I may just do. I have faith in it, more than the other two books I wrote, so I'm hoping readers will like it as well.
Anyway, in this process of caring for Ava, I've chosen to also care for myself. I don't want to let myself go, or lose myself in her. She may be my full-time job now, but that doesn't mean that I don't count or that I come second. I love Ava more than anything, but I love myself just as much. I'm sure some moms would shoot me cold, hard looks for saying such a blasphemous thing, but that's how I feel and I don't understand why I should feel guilty for feeling that way. After all, I existed for 30 years before she was born. I'm just as important, even if I can't wear cute little ballerina slippers the way she does.
So I do my makeup every morning, pick out our cute outfits for the day, and always try to leave the house looking polished and put together. Not only do I do this for my happiness and emotional well-being, I also do it to serve as an example to Ava. She might be too young to understand these things now, but as she grows up I want her to see that there is an importance in taking care of yourself and your appearance. I don't want to be one of those moms that is "so devoted" to their babies they use it as an excuse to schlep around in pajamas and let themselves fall apart. There are so many articles online talking about a woman's looks versus her intellect, but why do we have to choose to nurture one or the other? Why can't we nurture both? I want Ava to see that her mother can be smart and beautiful, and I want her to understand that she can be both. It's not an either/or.
Oh and the weight thing I complained about earlier? I think I've gotten a pretty good handle on it (no thanks to that hula hoop, which has sadly joined the ranks of the ankle weights, dumbbells and myriad other home gym equipment currently collecting dust in our guest room/room of good fitness intentions). Just after New Year's I began religiously counting calories -- 1,200 a day -- and the pounds started to drop away. Not an easy feat when all I want is to eat three gallons of ice cream every weekend, but lately I've started dropping down to familiar sizes and even managed to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans the other night! Though they were still a bit tight, I did get them buttoned and zipped up, so I count this as "fitting me." This small victory will surely be a high of my year. So far I've lost 10 pounds, and I have about five more left to lose. These last five are being extra stubborn and don't seem to care that I imagine I'm eating cheesecake every time I drink my sparkling water, but hopefully they'll be gone by summer.
|Ava and I in Napa.|