Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog.
Being a new parent
can be is scary. Like, petrifying. Full of shake-you-to-the-core-bone-rattling fear. Every twitch that baby makes, every sound, every cry, every random eye-flick (“did you see that? See how her left eye moved and her right didn’t?! Why did she do that??! Did she have a seizure? Is it a brain tumour???! HONEY? LOOK! She’s doing it again!!! Call 911!!”)…it’s all unchartered territory, and even if you’ve read every book and website in the world on parenting, once that baby is here, it’s a whole new world of anxiety.
Welcome to Crazy Town.
As the Mama, you go from having the life of a care-free, sociable, world-traveling, sex-having, booze-consuming, late-night-dancing, vivacious, effervescent woman with great hair and a great body…to this:
Zombie Mom. Slave to the child. Tip-toeing on eggshells. Slinking around silently like a snake. But a petrified snake, who is afraid that at any moment your SCREAMING BABY WILL WAKE UP AND START SCREAMING AGAIN.
Gone are the days where your body belongs to you. Your boobs, once a hot commodity, perky and full and your husband’s favourite thing in the world, are now property of your teeny, tiny baby and look more like tube socks with a golf balls in the end *shudder*.
It’s very quickly that you feel the control you once had over everything slowly slipping away with the rest of your sanity, disappearing to the place where your skinny jeans, 8-inch stilettos and full-nights sleep have been banished, quite possibly forever.
You are a new Mama. And I’m sorry to say it, but honey, you’re not in Kansas anymore.
(Now, don’t get me wrong. My daughter? The one that screamed non-stop and terrified me for a good 6+ months, and still to this day can give me a good ol’ scare? I love her. Like, I need a new word to describe how deeply and emotionally I feel about her. There isn’t anything I would not do for that little baby. She is my light, my life, my everything. Not just my world, but my universe. So anything seemingly negative I say about new babies and how F***ING SCARY they are, please know that I actually LOVE babies. And I do take very good care of her, and now that she’s older we laugh and play and it’s all super good. Until she tries to crawl face-first down the stairs and tumbles and bashes her head against the hardwood, then it’s back to being F***ING SCARY again.)
So! Back to the title of this blog. I Am The Mama Mantra.
Although I found that everything about a new baby falls under one big umbrella of fear, there are day-to-day taxing events and little anxieties that need to be dealt with immediately. Changing a baby out of a onesie that has been saturated with explosive breast milk poop, for example. When it happens, especially mid-feed, you sit there thinking, “crap. Do I get up and change her NOW, or do I wait until she’s finished? I don’t want to disturb her otherwise she might not go back on. But if I don’t change her now will she break out in a rash???” As the Mama, you have to make an executive decision, whether it’s to wait it out, or break her off and do the change. Another example: you see your 10-month old, who has been playing quietly with her toys allowing you to peacefully sip away at your morning coffee, start crawling, slowly at first, towards the speaker next to the TV. The one thing in the living room she MUST know by now she’s not allowed to play with let alone touch. You lock eyes. She gives you a look that says, “yeah, mom. I’m going for it.” And like THAT, she’s off. Like a cheetah! In that split second you hear that voice say, “okay. I could lunge for her like I usually do and enforce my stern ‘NO’…or I could finish the last three gulps of this delicious coffee, let her *just touch* the speaker, then peel her away…” So what do you do? In that millisecond, which choice do you make? Thinking about it too long could lead to disasterous results (baby gets to speaker, baby pulls speaker on head, baby goes to hospital and requires a billion stitches leaving her horrible disfigured for life). But then again, jumping on your first instinct could make you feel guilty afterwards (“I should have just let her touch the speaker. I’m supposed to let her explore at this age. I say ‘no’ too much!”).
One such event occurred a month or two ago, and it was as simple as my daughter needing her nails clipped. My husband and I had put it off for so long that they had turned into long, glamorous old-lady nails. If we had painted them a deep red she could have been cast on Young & The Restless as Katherine Chancellor‘s sister. The problem is, as I’m sure is the case with any and every baby at that age, that she haaaaaaaaaates having her nails clipped. Hates it. Loathes it. You wrangle her hand away from her mouth, take one little piece and she looks at you like you’ve just snipped off her whole finger before throwing her head back and wailing to the Gods for mercy. That is, IF you can wrangle her hand. Good luck with that. But on this said day, I was at the end of my rope. Her beautiful face was scratched to high-heaven, my husbands nose looked like a turkey vulture had attacked it and my boobs resembled something that had come out of a meat grinder. It was clippin’ time. I sat her down on the living room floor, teeny tiny clippers in one hand, the other poised to grab her fingers as soon as she stopped trying to wiggle away, “any minute now….any second….she’ll calm down any…time…now…” Once she started to thrash and whine, I knew I had to take action. I had to just DO IT. “I AM THE MAMA, AND I AM GOING TO CUT YOUR DAMN NAILS, ” I heard that voice in my head declare! “I AM THE MAMAAAAAAAAA!!!”
I grasped one baby finger after another, snipping nail after nail in quick succession while she writhed about on the floor and screamed and screamed and screamed. All the while muttering calmly to myself, “I am the mama. I am the mama. I am the mama.” Sure, anyone walking into the room at that point would have thought I was a crazy person trying to steal the baby’s fingers for sale on the black market. But I couldn’t have cared less. I clipped those nails, dammit, and in record time. I felt proud of that, and it was all thanks to my new mantra.
Side bar: if you’re not a parent and don’t understand how it could be so difficult to cut a baby’s nails, read this hilarious and very accurate 22-step tutorial from one of my favourite blogs, Sweet Madeleine.
The point is, decisions have to be made. Whether it’s immediately, or shortly after immediately. And as the Mama, I am typically the one who has to make the call. I’m not knocking dads here. I could have called the blog “I Am The Parent Mantra”, but whatever. This is about my experiences, and my mantra. And hopefully, you’ll be able to take from these tales and come up with your own.
As a new parent though, it’s whatever works. And for me, “I Am The Mama” mantra is The Word.