Lindsay Gill: Before it gets really messy

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Before it gets really messy

Last week, I had the heart-wrenching task of dropping off my little Luke at daycare for his first day.  We call it "school" because it feels better.  I decided that I would be strong for Luke so that he couldn't sense any of my anxiety.

I spent hours the night before preparing.  We cut his fingernails, cleaned his ears, and laid out his clothes for the next morning.  We packed his food, his bibs, and his toys.  I couldn't help but hope that the other kids like him, and that the teachers like him.  The next morning, we packed the car and headed to "school."

Needless to say, it was waterworks before I could even park the car in the parking space (for me, not him).  I was uncontrollably sobbing.  Luke was smiling and meeting babies when I told the woman that I was going to say goodbye and back away slowly "before it gets really messy."  Just as I was telling myself that it will get easier, I saw another mother sobbing as she left her almost school age son in the next room.  Okay, maybe it doesn't get easier.

I called my mom on my drive to work, explaining to her how I felt, as if she hadn't had these experiences of her own for me and my two brothers.  Ironically, my younger brother leaves for college tomorrow, leaving my own mother an "empty nester."  She comforted me on Luke's first day, and even offered to drive a full hour just to check on him for a minute.  I know that she has more experience being strong for her children than I do.  I know she wants to cry right along with me, but doesn't so that I can find some strength in her.

I think that being a parent for only these short seven months has given me such a new perspective on parents.  The anxious parents of my patients that used to seem over-bearing or over-dramatic, I now know that they would do anything to make their child's life a little easier, and anything to make their child feel a little less pain.  At the same time, I know that shielding them from ALL difficulty or pain is a disservice to them.  I guess the trick is to find a balance.  I'm aware that this is the first of many, many parent lessons that our perfect Luke will be teaching us.

This is a picture of my Luke at his first day of school.  They send us photos and videos throughout the day and a full report at the end of the day to my email (I know, how cool!!)  My husband and I both agree that after only two days, Luke definitely has a new "swag" about him!  He wants to get down and be more independent than before, we swear!  And there he is, happy as a clam!

My friend CB shared this on Facebook a while back and it touched me enough to search for it again tonight:

"We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?" 

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral. 

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations." 

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. 

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. 

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. 

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die. 

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her 
baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right. 

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming 
children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. 

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. 

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. 

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs. 

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. 

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. 

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. 

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic. 

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. 

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. 

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts. 

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. 
Please share this with a Mom that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Moms. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart."

-Author Unknown

One more thing for today, I thought this was helpful to know.  I've heard some stories about babies stacking up their bumpers and crawling out of their crib etc. so these are breathable mesh liners that seem cheaper than in the past.  I haven't tried them but something to consider.  Here is one at target:

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