You may find it helpful to (re)read my thoughts about becoming a stay at home mom and about my birthing experience. It’s been a little over 4 months of momming. This is a partial sum of my experience.
Listen to the audio version here!
How Do I Mom?
My experience with kids was occasionally taking care of my niece as a preteen, my other niece as a teen, a few jobs in a school setting with kids of various ages, a job working with teens, and taking care of my nieces as an adult. I had no idea if these experiences would be enough of a qualifier, but I had no choice but to find out.
I initially found being a mom strangely instinctive. I had lots of questions about certain things of course, but in general, there’s been this quiet, sure feeling within navigating my experience. It felt like all I had to do was be the mom I’d want. Of course, that concept came with feeling like I needed to be perfect, but I didn’t need perfect parents. If anything, it was good to see adults make mistakes and admit to them, showing dedication to growth.
After my partner went back to work a week after I gave birth, I wasn’t scared. I’m good at paying attention when I want to, so I felt comfortable knowing I’d be vigilant about anything being off. The minute anything marginally seemed to be array, I texted my midwife.
It helped that Zero slept a lot. I was told like all others I wouldn’t get sleep, but that first month was easygoing because he slept and rarely cried. He was (and is) the calmest baby I’ve ever met and I credit this to a pregnancy spent in the middle of the forest and a homebirth.
Even when his sleeping changed, naps were my saving grace. Please people, wish moms get sleep and tell them strategies on how to cope rather than fear-mongering about the lack thereof. You are not helpful.
This is the hardest part of mom life. I didn’t care about my needs or my partner’s too much for the first 2 months. This was okay initially, but after a while, the self and the partnership had to take back some of its precedences.
My partner had many more responsibilities as well. He took about 90% of my responsibilities while managing his because we had no family around to lean on. We discussed the changes and adjusted as we went, but it wasn’t always pretty. We both understood why relationships become so rocky in those first three months.
Balance is an open contract that needs to be renegotiated constantly, preferably before things get overwhelming.
There was always a lot of feelings. Feelings my body wouldn’t stop aching. Feeling I might not feel how I want to feel again. Feeling overwhelmed by the advice given because there was so much contrast between cultures and generations. Feeling I was failing my partner because of his additional responsibilities and not being able to prioritize him or us the way l used to. Feeling bored at home. Feeling like I’m unworthy of staying at home despite feeling it’s best if Z was around one of us at all times.
Surprisingly I didn’t have too many negative feelings about being a horrible mother anymore. His needs are easy to meet but damn they can be time consuming! So lots of feels about time: will I ever have enough time for me again?
Time spent on childcare becomes clearly… complicated. It’s easy to see the value of a job that results in money. It’s even easier to understand paying someone to watch your child, but staying at home and doing it yourself is somehow crazy. When asked when I’m going to start working again, I said, “I should work and give the entire paycheck to someone else to watch him? How does that make sense?” If not the entire check, most of it. Why do you think yah girl (aka me) is trying to make income from home with this blog?
Asking my partner to give me a break after he’s worked was tough because we value going out there to work as somehow harder and more worthy. Although again, we don’t see babysitters or teachers or even geriatricians as less valuable but stay at home moms are?
It’s easy to imagine moms having all the time in the world to do all the things, but if your kid prefers sleeping on you, for example – mine does, (which isn’t crazy considering he spent over 9 months in my body), you’re not getting anything outside your phone done.
Even when we do get a break, it’s used for basic self-care like showering or eating, both of which we tend to rush through. If we take time for a walk or something else that can help rejuvenate us, guilt dangles like a terribly placed mistletoe. Even when sleeping some part of us is still alert, listening for baby’s cues. It’s a 24/7 job.
You can still be grateful and want a break to yourself.
It’s demanding to feed, clean, entertain, and sooth to sleep all day.
I spent nearly 30 years doing what I thought was taking care of myself, but taking care of his needs reminded me how I easily neglect basic tasks like my nutrition and being in nature daily. His language is mostly crying but he at least knows he has a need to be met.
We’ve all gotten quite numb to an extent that we believe going to the movies, traveling, or getting a manicure is how we ought to take care of ourselves or show self-love. It can be a version of it, but it’s no cure for the root cause. If your house’s plumping is broken, you don’t paint the walls, take a vacation, or watch a movie and call it taking care of the real problem.
Speaking of problems, Zero is not a name that was received well. We are still being asked why, mostly as if we’re thoughtless hipster millennials who are just trying to go with the cool thing of the day. If kids can be cruel, who or where did they learn it from? Kids who have heard the name don’t see it as strange. One kid only asked, “isn’t that a number?” and moved on. He was more concerned that I was “missing a tooth” (my diastema).
Most of us, me included, have names that just “sounded nice” but with no initial thought out meaning. You may rest assured he wasn’t named thoughtlessly in case you were losing sleep about it (of course you’re not). I don’t mind answering why we named him Zero, but first ask yourself why you care or would you care if I went with something traditional.
I absolutely love mom life. I love changing diapers. I enjoy playing with him and finding out what makes him laugh. I love that he’s a chubby baby from a vegan mom. He enjoys playing with his feet and hands (while gurgle-speaking very loudly), the songs I’ve made up, breastfeeding, when his dad carries him near his chest, and recently sucking on the sweet nectar of fruits like strawberries and grapes. I’ve made mistakes (there was a diaper rash incident) and I’ve made strides (I know almost all his cues like it’s some kind of love language).
I do wonder things like if he’ll ever question if I’m really his mom because his physical traits appear overtly paternal. Overall I relish in knowing he will grow up knowing he can always come home, not just when things are bad. It’s the best job/role I never got money in exchange for and I’m grateful the universe and my partner makes it possible!