Notes to Self

July 9, 2012

Did she see what I see?

This morning I was on the treadmill (after 2 weeks off) and enjoying the expenditure of energy and the music. Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” came on and I started thinking of my daughter. I thought how one day some boy will sing this to her and someone will love her tremendously. This made me smile.

When I was pregnant I wondered what this little girl was going to be like, look like, sound like, walk like and be like. I couldn’t wait to meet her! I am now realizing that each day is a ‘new her’, as she develops and grows we see more and more of her personality come through.

Sometimes I just stare at her and see pure innocence and raw potential. I see joy, wonder and curiosity. I see beauty and peace. I see an amazing little girl of whom I am so proud and I truly enjoy each day with her (don’t get me wrong – I also sometimes wish I could just sit with my cat and a cup of coffee!).

So this all made me wonder what did my mother see when she looked at me? Did she beam with pride, love, adoration and amazement? Or did she not notice the first time I put my toes in my mouth or when I figured out how that toy worked? I am the youngest of several children so then I thought maybe she was too busy. So then I wondered what did she see when she looked at my eldest sibling?

My mother is not a very sensitive person and it was a hard childhood for all of us. She wasn’t terribly affectionate and I don’t think our feelings ever came first. Yes, she did the best that she could. That’s pretty much all that we can do and all that we can expect. (although sometimes this sounds like a cop out or excuse).

I guess I feel a little sad for her, and for all of us, that maybe she wasn’t able to notice or appreciate the beauty that encompasses, and is embodied by a child and, most especially by YOUR child. I feel sad for the little girls that weren’t adored by their mother.

Since becoming a mother I have found that my reaction to the treatment of children and the cries that I hear has changed tremendously. What used to make me angry now completely sickens me. Conversely, what used to make me simply smile now makes me beam ear to ear.

I used to say that you could judge a person’s character based on the way they treated animals. I haven’t figured out what it means about a person based on how they treat a child (well, their child), but I know that it takes an enormous amount of patience and selflessness. You must be able to step outside of yourself and evaluate each situation objectively.

Believe me I have had my moments of tears and utter frustration and I know there will be more to come. I will do the best that I can do and hope that when my daughter  has a child she never wonders if I looked at her with pride, love, adoration and amazement – she will know that I did (and then some).

Here’s to my brown-eyed girl. May you always know and feel how much I love you!

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June 29, 2012

Loss worth losing

As our children grow and mature, with every step taken, we lose a little.

Mothers no longer needed for nourishment: loss.

Babies no longer wanting to constantly be held: loss.

Toddlers walking without holding parents’ hands: loss.

Toddlers no longer needing to run to mommy’s arms when novelty appears: loss.

When children sleep through the night in their own bed, peel and hold the banana all by themselves and successfully use a fork or spoon for an entire meal: loss, loss and loss.

Ever since she stopped nursing my daughter has been sleeping better – rarely wakes up (vs waking every 2-3 hours), and sleeps in her crib (vs in the bed with us). We have begun trying to get her to fall asleep in her crib without us holding her.

However last night my daughter fell asleep in my arms. I thought: this may be the last time she cuddles me like this. I grew sad (and am tearing up now) and felt such a sense of loss.

But I know that it is loss worth losing. I know it means we have done a good job as parents – we have provided this little baby with what she needed and she is growing up well.

That is the fundamental purpose of parenting. To give and let them grow.

“With all of its glories and all of its faults, life is but a bittersweet waltz”

June 28, 2012

Passing the baton

Last night my husband put the baby to bed- well, sort of. We both started and I left the room and he finished.

I was tired and was growing more and more frustrated as time went on and she was not falling asleep.  I get upset that things don’t go smoothly because, in my mind, it means I have failed.

My family (both mine and my husband’s side) have put their 2 cents in since my daughter was born and all I hear is them saying you should do this; or you shouldn’t do that; I’m telling you from experience….; you’ll be sorry later on if you keep doing…..

Yes, I let her fall asleep at the breast. No, I never had a bedtime routine.Yes, I held her as much as I possibly could (I still do).

Is she attached to me? Most definitely. Does it sometimes cause me stress? Absolutely. Would I change it? Never.

Yet I cannot be at peace with what I have done, and chose to do. I feel criticized  and judged all the time. I hate family gatherings and wish we could move far away. As if that would matter – even during phone conversations I get judged and criticized.

My mother never really supported my choice to breastfeed and especially didn’t support me going past 6 months. My father wasn’t as vocal about it but he also kept saying I could stop anytime I wanted to.

So when I am not around for my daughter I feel guilty. I feel like she thinks I have abandoned her and no longer love her. This morning my husband took her outside to play while I got her food ready and then showered/got dressed. I found myself rushing (as I always do) because I had to get back to her. I have to be with her all the time (if I am not at work, etc).

Last night as I tried to rest in bed and wait for her to fall asleep I kept getting up and heading toward her door – thinking that she needed me, she needed to know I was there and would cuddle her and love her always. But I also know that she needs to feel that from her daddy as well. She needs to attach to him as well (if I am absent she will stay/play with him. If I am present it is only to me). And it is getting better – she is attaching more and more. But as it gets better I also feel a sense of loss and worry.

I never want her to feel the way I felt from my parents – unloved, un-liked and unsupported. Chances are she will never feel those things but instead may feel smothered – he he.  But the fear is still there.

Ah, so here is another thought that needs examination. Letting other people (i.e., her da-da/my husband) care for my daughter means I am not being a good enough mother and am abandoning her (or something like that). I’ll have to work on this one.

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