On the problem of problem-solving
I am in a new stage of becoming Bowie's Mom. It's so strange and empowering to look back over the pregnancy, birth, and first three months of her life and see how I survived what I never thought I would and learned and guided her in ways I was sure she'd never understand.
In the beginning, I had little to gush about and a myriad of complaints of caring for a newborn. I knew (in a place I had not yet accessed, but never doubted its existence) that I loved her, but I was not yet her Mom as much as a person in shock performing the hardest job of her life on the littlest sleep she's ever known. However, in the last three weeks, I found myself newly in love with baby girl Bowie. She's come alive to me, and not just because she is more alert, smiling, forming delicious rolls, sucking her thumb, and sleeping enough to get us both into good moods. No.
Candace has fallen for Bowie.
My friend Leif (in a luminescent moment of encouragement where most people sigh, roll their eyes, and say 'well, I hope you're ready for the "joys" of parenting.' Not that I judge them; we are not our most awesome selves when we do the hardest work ever known) told me that being a parent was like reliving that crush you had in college. You totally adore this human, and yet you are petrified of that kind of powerful love. You are terrified of the way it strips you bare and makes you vulnerable, for the wanting of it so badly. I want things for Bowie I've never DARED have the audacity to dream for myself. And I am both happy and relieved to say that where once I doubted my ability to feel this crush for my daughter, I am now completely and utterly normal. I adore her. I suffocate on my desire to see her daily. My heart threatens halt when I imagine her in pain.
Going back to work has no doubt fanned the flame of this spark. I have this bittersweet taste in my soul all day as I sift through copious and blinding amounts of tedious html. Where I used to be relieved to have another pair of hands to assist me, I now urgently rush home to have the chance to swoop her up and put on her adorable footed pajamas and snuggle her and sing to her as we rock back and forth in a quiet house. Where once that same quiet used to haunt my soul, it now feeds it. Where once I doubted that she knew me from any other person, I now know she finds comfort in her mother. I prolong her bedtime where once I counted down the moments. I have such a privileged and blessed life that I get to have this baby and have very little else to worry about - a stark and jarring contrast to the resentment I felt that she was all I had to think about during the day.
So now, I guess I might say that I love being Bowie's mother. That question used to confuse me, invalidate me. But now - I can say most assuredly that I do enjoy it.
But here's the thing. For all the things I like about being her mother, I seriously dislike how illogical motherhood makes me.
Typically, I see a problem, and I can massage it into understanding via wisdom, experience, and logic. In other words, I have mad problem-solving skills, yo. I always thought this would be an asset in parenthood, but something new is emerging from the underbelly of my ability to fix things.
Perhaps I can best explain what I mean via an example.
I spent the last 5 weeks sleep-training Bowie. She now has a predictable sleeping and eating schedule, and she and I are both happier for knowing what to expect from our days. I don't want to 'brag,' but I do want to say that because I trained her so, she now sleeps totally in her own bed, comforts herself to sleep, and sleeps long and hard through the night, not to mention that she wakes up happy. I go into her room at 6am every morning, and she is lying there - wide awake, sucking her thumb. She grins like a fool when I greet her, and seeing her so happy is my thrill! All of this work, all of the reading and doubting of myself as she cried in the other room even though I reassured her every 5, 10, or 15 minutes...all of this work has paid off and I feel not only proud of myself with fighting hard against myself for what would make her happiest, but also immensely proud of what SHE was able to accomplish with the slightest bit of nudging.
But now. Now! Where once I barely breathed for the anxiety of her waking up after sleeping only 45-minutes, NOW I feel panic that she is probably sleeping TOO MUCH. Does this mean she is coming down with something? No doubt this nameless 'something' has been contracted BECAUSE I abandoned her by going back to work, and most assuredly this nameless 'something' is a terminal illness.
It's akin to knowing that Mac'N'Cheese is a nutrient-deficient meal, but smugly preparing an organic version of it, full-well knowing it's still nutrient-deficient, but HEY! At least it's ORGANIC.
So it goes with Bowie and myself. The illogicality of seeing a problem, fixing it, feeling a bit of satisfaction and then a new strain of panic - ie. then MAKING UP A NEW PROBLEM in its stead - has me frustrated with the biology of mothering. So I think to myself that it may not be about that problem at all. My concern with making sure Bowie gets enough sleep isn't addressing the true core of what's happening. Yes, I saw that problem. Yes, I addressed it by implementing a new system.
But perhaps deeper than that is the hidden notion that I am not a good mother unless I am worrying about Bowie. Or that if I can anticipate her maybe being sick, it will be less traumatic to me. Or perhaps, worst of all, I am fearing a motherhood of sitting on my laurels, being too easily satisfied. I am not quite sure I know what it is yet.
But I can tell you this. As with life, motherhood presents roadblocks and extremely difficult-to-manage self-doubt. I do not commit to fixing all of Bowie's problems or addressing all of her unknown ailments. I commit only to the issue in front of me, to chewing on it, to ingesting it into my soul, and to finally letting it either resolve itself or make me into a more real and vulnerable version of myself.
Or (so say we all) both.
My favorite kind of human has always been the one that lets life evolve herself into something new. I see it happening with my progeny daily. I chose to follow her courageous example and morph into a more mature and capable me.
Baby girl, we will learn to walk together.