Motherhood inferiority complex.

More than once I’ve been told I’m a pretty laid-back first-time mom. I think when I got pregnant, I became so overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of what I was about to do and I kinda just let go of trying to even attempt to control the situation. I’ve just been able to take one day at a time, knowing that I’m in a powerful yet powerless position here.

And for the past ten months, I’ve been pretty much proven right. Being laid-back has been a great tool for dealing with new-mommy life.

I think, however, my metapelet may disagree. It could be all my own internalizing, but I can’t help but get the feeling she wonders where my head is at… Why am I not taking all of her advice? Why am I not rushing to the doctor every time he has a string of sleepless nights (every week, then?!)? Why am I not more upset that when I drop him off, he’s ecstatic to jump into her arms from mine?

On that last point… It really didn’t bother me until she started mentioning it every time. I’ve been happy with the way she is with him, pleased with the fact that I landed a  great daycare situation – a loving woman who genuinely cares for my kid. So what’s wrong with the fact that when we get to her house in the morning, he practically jumps out of my arms into hers?

But she’s mentioned it almost every day and somewhere it started grating on my nerves. How many times can you hear, That’s not nice, don’t you love your mama? before you start to shed your laid-backness and begin to get annoyed?

This week was different. I don’t know if Koala is just getting older, more aware, more contextual, or if Purim turned things upside down for real… But when I brought him in on Tuesday, he freaked out. He grasped on to me and the nail-digging in my skin was oozing with please don’t leave me. I laughed and tried again to pass him along to his metapelet and he burst out in tears. Finally, I kissed his head and just left.

It happened again the next day. When I came to pick him up in the afternoon, my metapelet said, “Well, finally, I was worried that he was leaving you too easily. This is a good thing,” with just the slightest hint of defensiveness. In my head, I rolled my mind’s eyes. Who’s this really about, anyway?

But I’m happy with myself. Another version of me would have been angry, jealous, emotional, put off, defensive about the whole thing.

Laid-back mommy me is just taking it one day at a time.

It's all about the boobjamins.

Long day. I returned to the office today after a two week (work-themed) hiatus. When I got home at 4:30pm, my husband was on the couch and Koala was on the floor next to him, eating a dreidal (standard fare, really).

I gave Koala a big hello to which he smiled, and, like a really slow bolt of lightening, he came crawling towards me. It was the  fastest I’ve seen him crawl so far. He was determined. It felt so good. My heart filled with squishy mommy-pride and I bent down and opened my arms for him.

When he arrived at his destination, I scooped him up and basked in the notion that he sorta kinda ‘hugs’ now… or more likely, holds on for dear life. I’m ok with that, though. All I knew was that my home right at that second was filled with puppies, rainbows, butterflies and cupcakes. Rainbow Brite may have made an appearance.

But, alas, I know the truth. Right on cue, Koala burst into tears and began clawing at my shirt.

I heard his cries loud and clear: Ma, I want boob!

Koala update: Seven months.

They grow up so fast. They grow up so fast. They grow up so fast.

Dammit, I’m surrounded by cliches. It’s getting kinda repetitive.

But I’ll take a cribful of cliches for all the milestones Koala has experienced in the last month.

He worked really hard to sit – every day, one leg under the tush, push ups… And then after a while, sit he did… Man, when he finally got it – what a look of satisfaction. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard to accomplish anything in my life (except maybe sitting). And all the while he worked on sitting, he worked on moving, too. And then a couple days ago, wah! He was one hand in front of the other, moving towards Papa. These last few days have held many surprises for newly-crawling Koala, as well as many surprises for various home furnishings. God help you, potted plants.

And all the while he’s been crawling, he’s been picking up a leg as if to stand. That’s the point where I’m like, whoa, cowboy. Not so fast. Mama hasn’t childproofed the kitchen yet.

But crawling has opened all new doors for Koala. Or should I say floors? Speaking of the kitchen, he has begun his licking the floor-under-the-fridge immunization program. We’re all very proud. All wonderful things, yes. But what about the teething front? Notes from the teething front:

It’s rough out here on the front lines… of the bottom gum. The parentals are hallucinating as they wake up every 2 hours to rub bottom gum with Orajel and then fall back asleep.

Just in from the teething front – Right bottom tooth has cracked through! Repeat, right bottom tooth has sprung!

Report: Right bottom tooth has sprung after an excruciating and sleepless and excruciatingly sleepless week.

That was the beginning of the month. On the eve of the seventh month, left bottom tooth has begun its trouble. Always on a weekend, folks. This kid cracks teeth on weekends. But the very best development this month: The first major syllable milestone. Out of nowhere, laying on his back, staring up at the ceiling, Koala burst out into a chorus of da da da da.

They were soft sounds, angelic, cherubic syllables I wanted to hug for a long time. Da da da. It just rolled off his tongue. It was probably as good as the first smile and the first laughter. Of course, he communicates in all sorts of ways, but this just feels like the beginning of a higher communication, a human communication.

Working motherhood.

It would be cliche and boring to say being a working mother is like a big juggling act. Or jigsaw puzzle. Would it be any more exciting to call it an Unscramble? I used to love those.

There are so many pieces involved to making a day go by successfully. Or, at the very least, passably. So many compromises… Milk over meetings? Conference calls over bath time? So many explanations that come out of my mouth sounding like lame excuses.

I did a decent job of enjoying maternity leave while keeping work in the back of my mind. Aside from the fact that being a stay-at-home-mom is one of the biggest luxuries I can think of, I have come to admit that I’m one of those women that has to have a global purpose during the day, even if by global I mean serving the world wide web for a medium-sized hi-tech company.

Then of course, there’s the Other Woman, the milking, the shlepping.

It’s so kinda definitely hectic. What happened, self? There was a time when I worked, went to school, socialized and planned a wedding at the same time.

But then again, I wasn’t being haunted in my light-sleep by evil tooth fairies (the kind that implant them in the cloud-like gums of cherubs at the price of your sanity).

If you ever need an exercise in humbling yourself, become a mom in the midst of working in a fast-paced industry while dropping off your new baby at another woman’s home every day, carrying glass jars of your own milk. All while being chased by the evil tooth fairy.

Question of the week.

Q: What’s it like being back at the office?

A: I feel like a freshman in high school.

Everything is new; it’s still school like middle school was, but it’s bigger and more complicated. And there’s more home-work.

And I’m tired all the time from waking up at 6 am to get everyone out the door in time to ride the traffic and get into my office.

Sometimes I wonder how the seniors will think of me. Did I miss drool on my shoulder? Did I get milk everywhere?

Were they better at it than me when they were freshmen?

How fast can I get lunch down my throat so I have time to catch up on overdue assignments?

I miss my baby; he’s having fun with another girl and I have to try not to think about it while reading stats or writing documents.

And it’s all so new and overwhelming; I know yawning during meetings isn’t nice; but it’s not you, teacher, it’s me.

And as weird as this sounds, expressing milk locked up in my office, with occasional door-knocking – I feel like an awkward teenager trying to work out a tampon in the bathroom stall while the cool girls are standing by the mirror putting on lipstick.

Did I forget to pack all my textbooks… milk… to take home? Nope, gotta turn back and get the rest of my stuff. Now I’m late and my ride won’t be pleased.

Not your momma's birthday.

Recently, my birthday passed but for years now I’ve just not been a birthday person at all.

Occasionally, growing up (as my ponderous tye-dye free-thinking self), I would consider – along with saving the manatees – the idea that perhaps birthdays should be about mothers, not kids. After all, the mother is the one who brought about the birth – the kid didn’t do much but exist. Shouldn’t the mom get to stuff herself with cake?

Once I went to the lengths of giving my mom a nice card on my birthday to see if my point came across. Surely it was appreciated; anything I wrote down on paper was (and still is) appreciated by my mother. And I assume every other mom would agree (especially with cake involved) but it just doesn’t happen that way.

So as my birthday passed a little while ago, I again considered this with introspection, only this time, I really did appreciate what my dear mother went through on that day nearly three decades ago. Dear, dear mother.

Sure, our childbirth experiences have been fairly different so far. And postnatal, we’re not doing everything exactly the same. But I thought about it longer and harder than I have in other years, and by god, did I make a painful mess for her the day I was born.

And then there was that day almost 5 months ago when I gave someone else their original birthday; I sure remember that day – word for word, detail for detail – better than my own.

So I’m still not a birthday person in September. But in April, I’ll forever be celebrating someone else’s.

Adapting to new life.

The Koala isn’t the only newbie around here. It’s hit me in the last week that I am a new person. It’s been a short process (36 hour labor) and a long process (it’s about a year since I found out I was pregnant).  But here I am, changed.

I’m a mother. I’m a food source. I’m a caregiver.

I’ve got, for better or worse, a forever-altered body.

I’m paying the bills while being challenged daily as a WAHM.

I have a new sixth sense that is always at work, whether I’m awake, on a different floor of the house, or asleep.

I have everything to lose, and if I did lose everything, I would never be the same.

I’m already not the same.

My relationships have altered. I don’t know if the other halves of these relationships realize it. Resent it. Care either way. I don’t know yet if I do.

I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m in love I can’t control.

I want to take my Koala and fly away but I want to take my Koala and hide right here.

I’m riding a rollercoaster that started when I was born, only now, I’m climbing up to the highest drop. I thought previously that the highest drop was childbirth – the physical transition from person to parent – but now I know that wasn’t it.

I’m at the top, peering down. The highest drop takes you to a place where you are making sure he isn’t choking on a grape; avoiding physique-altering car accidents; advising on keeping away from the bullies; working toward ‘enough to eat’; looking over your shoulder to make sure he’s still behind you; dodging diseases; checking for breathing…

It’s overwhelming.

But now it’s me.

Koala update: six weeks.

Imagine that six weeks ago yesterday my entire life was altered in a way I slowly come to fathom every day. Piece by piece. On so many levels I am amazed: at myself, for making it happen through a kind of energy and inner strength I wasn’t sure I had… At my husband, who was the ultimate partner throughout the experience… And at this creature which we not only created, but are forever charged with ensuring he survives and thrives…

And that, this little creature does. The days after he was born, I couldn’t believe what a little koala he was. Tiny! He’d curl up on my belly as if he was still on the other side. It was pretty fetal of him and I couldn’t imagine it ever ending.

But in the past couple weeks, I’ve had to come to the realization that he is not the tiny koala he was for the first month. Now when he curls up on my belly, it’s not fetal and it’s not as much curling, either. He’s… tall. His arms and legs are growing out of his preemie-sized outfits and into newborn outfits… and quickly leaving those behind, as well.

I know that’s a good thing and exactly what should be happening. But a part of me – in the same way when I was pregnant – can’t help but feel everything is just… safer when they are inside you, or so small they need you for everything. Need you to hold their heads up. Need you to rock them to sleep. Need you to explain life to them.

Is it too early for this? The pregnancy is slow and calm, and then – like that… It just happens so fast. You give birth and suddenly these little feet and miniature fingers and soft eyes… This baby koala is all yours. And just when you realize you’re going to be a great mom and it’s all doable… he grows. And grows. And you can’t stop it. Suddenly, taking life day by day won’t cut it… It’s gotta be minute by minute… Piece by piece. You might miss the little toes; soon they’ll be gone.

So this past Sunday – and every other since he was born – I’ve taken a look at his head, how much it’s grown, and think… Holy crap, thank god you weren’t six weeks late.