This is a post I wrote when Eli was five weeks old, the day after I left him for the first time since he was born. As I was going through old drafts I rediscovered it and found myself nodding along with it all over again. I can't exactly remember why I chose not to publish it, I'm fairly certain it was out of fear and insecurity, which is ironic, because that's exactly what this post is about. Today, Eli is nearly six months old, and I'm only now realizing how far I've come in my confidence as a mom. That doesn't mean I know what I'm doing, it just means I'm much less afraid to publish the truth, even when it seems - "un-mom-like." Although I've published some post already that fit that criteria, like this, this and this for starters - this particular one just seemed "worse" for some reason. But I'm hitting publish today in hopes that someone can identify and find comfort that they are not alone in their feelings.
In yesterday's post, there's one thing that I intentionally left out. On my way home, while I was thinking about how I didn't really miss Eli (a hard thing for me to type even now) I found myself feeling guilty. Like I wasn't being a "good mom." And - most honest here - I thought to myself that it was too easy for me to leave him, so I must not love him as much as other moms love their babies.
Wow. Yeah, let that one sink in.
What a lie. And I'm embarrassed to admit that that thought even made it within 50 miles of my brain.
As soon as it crossed my mind: "... not love him as much as other moms love their babies ..." a red flag went up and I had to shut it down. I LOVE ELI FIERCELY. I love him with everything I am, no hesitations, no questions, no doubts and without boundaries. It is real, authentic, deep, wide and all-consuming.
The day I begin questioning my love for my son is a sad, sad day.
It's no secret that I wouldn't identify myself as a "kid-person." And while I'll readily admit that I'm not, I think sometimes I doubt myself when it comes to caring for Eli correctly because of that fact. Even though deep down, I know that overall I think I know what's important, what he needs and what's right in the things that matter, I get insecure. I find myself wondering what my kid-loving friends would do. How they would treat his diaper rash. How they would get him to sleep. When they would call the doctor. I assume that because I'm not a "kid-person," I must not know how to take care of my son as well as someone else who is more naturally inclined to children.
When I'm home with Eli, which is basically 24/7 these days, I have no problem sitting Eli down in his bouncer to look at the little birds above his head. If he's content in the bouncer, I'll leave him there as long as I can, and honestly, I LOVE it when he's in there. It gives me time to pick up the house, deep clean my oven, hang new frames in the hallway (highly needed since we just got his newborn pics back), plant my garden, and write this blog post.
For the first few weeks, I felt like I should always hold Eli, cuddle him and enjoy his "littleness" as so many people have told me to.
So I tried it.
And I got bored.
Don't get me wrong. The kid is CUTE. And the faces and sounds he makes are entertaining and downright HILARIOUS. But I'm pretty sure even the most kid-obsessed person wouldn't be able to just hold and stare and "enjoy" Eli all day long.
Well, maybe his grandmas. But that's it.
While I am trying to be intentional about enjoying and documenting this newborn phase Eli is in, I'm finding that it's also okay to give myself freedom to live life. To still be "me" and not feel guilty. It feels like a delicate balance, one day I don't give it a second thought, the next I'm insecure, feeling like I need to be singing him the ABC's, giving him a baby massage, and playing Mozart for at least an hour a day so that I'm being "proactive in his development."
I think I just had this vision of me coddling and playing with Eli all day while I was home, watching his faces, making sure his fohawk is in good order for when daddy comes home, and talking to him about this great big world in an itty-bitty baby voice.
The reality is that while I became a mom in a matter of minutes five weeks ago, I'm still the person I've been for 26 years - a person who thrives on productivity with physical results, is task-oriented and doesn't feel natural playing on the floor with a child.
I'm working on finding that happy medium because some days, I've found I can error on the "living life" side of things and I become selfish and greedy of "me" time. It's a work in progress and something I'm trying to learn not to be insecure about - especially around other people who seem to be more content than I am watching their baby sleep.
The thing is, I didn't need to miss Eli more or less that day, because the amount of thought I give my child while I'm away from him does not define my depth of love for him, neither does the way I treat his diaper rash, when I decide to call the doctor, and what parenting method I use. I can't question my love for Eli out of fear for how it would measure up to what others would do for their children. While I may not be a "kid-person," I am an "Eli-person," and I am the best mom he could have, simply because I'm his mom and I love him.