By Susie Cortright
Like many moms, I suffer from selective amnesia. Mostly, it revolves around things like pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and the isolating early days with a newborn, which, with the first baby, culminated in the night I emptied the Diaper Genie and my battered soul by howling something unintelligible and swinging a sausage roll of smelly nappies around my head.
Thank goodness for the sharp memory of my husband, who sometimes finds it wise to remind me about those things.
Callie is six-weeks old now, which means she has reached that magical age when the doctors okay her (and her mommy) to fully participate in life. But there are these struggles that keep popping up…struggles that I had somehow forgotten about in the two years between babies, and I have to rely on my husband's remarkable memory once again to let me know that these were the same issues that popped up after the first baby. Then they buried themselves deep in some dark hole somewhere only to re-emerge now that we are settling in with daughter number two.
I have become familiar enough with these problems that they now have a name. They are The Monsters. The Monsters emerge from this dark hole to crawl around my brain when I can't sleep at night, and they pop out of my mouth before I can stop them.
The say mean things about finances and the sharing of responsibilities. At bottom, they may just be a sign that I'm bored enough to want to pick a fight for the sheer drama of the experience. Because I now recall some of these struggles that you all report and I seem to have forgotten. It's the tedium of playing with the playdough and vacuuming up the playdough and finding playdough in my bedsheets.
It's the lack of control that pervades my days. It's the attempt to get up four hours before the rest of my family because in this warped world of early motherhood, work time counts as "me time," and hearing my toddler's footsteps on the landing as she makes the long climb to my office. I'm glad she takes the steps one-foot-at-a-time because it affords me the time to sweep away my initial reaction, which may involve the words, "Can't you give mommy a few moments of peace after all the sacrifices she makes…" and somehow dissolves into an empathetic smile, a long hug, and a tuck-in to the mattress I've moved into my office for this very scenario, which usually happens about half-past four.
It's times like these when I struggle to recall how I finally reclaimed the power and the control over my life after my first child. After a little searching, I remember. After a long while, I snatched at all the control I could, and I let the rest go.
I surrendered to it after realizing that, no matter how hard I try, I can't control when the little ones will wake or when they'll want to eat or when they'll poop (though I can be reasonably sure the latter two will happen right as we're heading into the car to go somewhere), but I can control the way I deal with it. I can control my energy level by controlling what I eat and how much I exercise I get. I can even control a few things in my work life.
After the first baby, I reclaimed my power by joining a gym with good childcare and started a home business. This time, I kickbox during naptime and write and write and write during the wee hours.
Through it all, I repeat to myself (as though it were a mantra) that these choices are mine. I chose the nursing pads by insisting on breastfeeding. I chose the crazy work hours by insisting on staying home with my girls. And if I get forget, my husband will remind me of that, too.
Happy Mother's Day to you all. May you clutch what's important this year and surrender what is not. And may God grant you the wisdom, as that familiar prayer pleads, to know the difference.
© Susie Michelle Cortright
Susie Cortright is the founder of momscape.com and Momscape's Scrapbooking Playground -
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