My kid will be 5 months old next week. She’s adorable in pretty much every way, even though I have to routinely clean weird, mustardy poop out of her cloth diapers with a high pressure sprayer because that stuff is nigh impossible to eradicate. It’s like the pink from Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. I spray it, and its aerosolized particles cling in a ring to the toilet bowl. I scrub the bowl with a long-handled scrub brush, and it’s stuck in the bristles. I rinse the bristles under the faucet, and now the poo-tation is chilling in the sink, which is way worse than having it in the toilet. (I mean, come on. I wash my face in there!) It’s a never-ending cycle of poo transfer. I don’t even want to think about what must be happening inside my washing machine!
I try not to worry about it too much, though I have no idea why it’s the vivid yellow of turmeric paste, nor what happens inside her little body to make it look like she’s swallowed a handful of sesame seeds whole. My physician friend says her body is just “figuring out her bacteria,” but I also don’t know what that means.
The trend with new motherhood, you see, is not knowing anything.
How to get the kid to sleep? How to make her stay asleep? If I don’t entertain her, will she become a sociopath? But most of all, what am I supposed to do with her? I have no idea what I’m doing.
|The Eyebrows of Judgment|
Reaching and surpassing tangible goals is kinda my thang, but since motherhood has made it possible for me to fall short in more ways than I ever dreamed, my self-expectations have reached a new low. Daily Goal = “Keep Child Alive.” This means that my many mommy-fails (such as clipping her pacifier lanyard to flesh instead of clothing, or snipping off delicate fingertips rather than fingernails) don’t count against me.
Everything in parenting seems to be a gamble, but when my choices make my kid constipated or bleed or cry, I feel pretty dang guilty. Even worse than blood, tears, or popped-forehead veins: my daughter’s Eyebrows of Judgment. I usually get these after doing something selfish, like propping her up so she can watch me peruse the Internet for goat cheese recipes.
Okay, I am officially a C-Team mother.
Reading is the problem. I have too much information to do anything effectively! (Yes, this is how I choose to project my mommy-guilt.) One book says I absolutely must do A, while another book says that A is completely wrong, and pediatricians everywhere recommend B, but B makes me feel bad because it makes my baby cry a lot, so I try C from another book, which works one time and never again, though that doesn’t stop me from repeating it maniacally in frantic hopes of magical surprise effectiveness.
Once, in my exhausted mania and frustration at being unable to “fix” my child’s wild-eyed fight against sleep, I booed in a low voice until my breath expired. No self-respecting book written by experienced doctors will ever suggest, “Why not try booing your child’s unattractive behavior?” But guess what? She closed her eyes and went to sleep. What in the world? Even weirder, this continues to work, so obviously I keep booing her, calmly and gently, to sleep. One hopes she does not grow up with severe lack of self-esteem.
The thing is, we’re all C-Team parents. We’re imperfect and selfish with our time and we get tired of cleaning the questionable fluids that come from literally every orifice of baby’s body. We’re all winging it in the sphere of parenthood. So learn a little lesson from this Type A Perfectionist: just keep trying. Nobody knows anything until they stumble across it accidentally. And press on with the knowledge that when the C-Team is the best anyone can do, well, then that’s the A Team, isn’t it? Win.