Crying with the Baby: Still a Good Mom

My husband went back to grad school/teaching this week. I have had a lot of help caring for Walter. My mother-in-law, step-mother-in-law, mother, sister, even Nathan’s aunts and cousins have all taken turns holding, feeding, loving my boy. And of course, he has the most amazing father. I haven’t been sleeping, because when Nathan is at school or teaching, he can’t come home at a moment’s notice. Now that holidays and visits are over, no one else is likely to be here when I want a break. And I want a break. Often.

Everything is going great, better than I had dared to hope it would. No postpartum disorder has appeared to rob me of enjoying my son’s first months. But it never occurred to me to worry about ordinary, everyday motherhood.

Nothing could have prepared me for the exhaustion that comes with being needed by a tiny, dependent being twenty-four hours a day. I sometimes feel guilty, as though I could have done some sort of endurance training to get ready for being needed this way. But the truth is that no matter what anyone said or did, I would still be feeling overwhelmed.

An online community of mothers is out there. I found them over time, as I began blogging and reaching out over social media, especially Twitter. When I send out a tweet expressing exhaustion or frustration, I get a comforting response, every time. Someone always understands. And that means that I’m not alone.

It’s ok that I’m not cheerful and eager every time my son needs something. That doesn’t mean we did anything wrong. The birth was beautiful. He is healthy. I am healthy, and my body has recovered nicely. Breastfeeding is going well.

Sometimes, I still don’t feel like holding him. I let him fuss while I grumble to myself before feeding him for the ten thousandth time in one evening.

It’s ok that I beg my son to stop crying, because I am tired and I don’t want to walk the floor another second.

I am a good mother. My son is an easygoing guy. I stare at him and it hurts, how much I love this baby. I feel such joy in having been so lucky: I have the wonderful baby I longed for.

All the same, motherhood is a job with no time off, ever, horrible hours, and no regular break time. I dread Wednesdays now, because Nathan teaches two classes and is gone for almost twelve hours. I am still a good mother, even if I dread the days when no one else is here to change a diaper.

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