Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The mommy gig at 5 months

You would think that it would have sunk in before now that I'm actually a mother. You're thinking that the whole 10 hours of labor, the constant breastfeeding, the diaper changing and the relentlessly cute small person who now shares almost every waking moment with me might be enough to clue me in, right? But here we are, 5 months into the mommygig and sometimes I have to remind myself that oh yeah, I'm someone's mother. In the hospital where Davis was born, a lullaby would play on the loudspeaker whenever a new baby was delivered. I remember very clearly watching them wrapping Davis (who was all purple and sticky) in a towel to hand to me, hearing the lullaby and saying "Oh, I guess another baby was just born" and having the midwife look at me as if I were jest a bit tetched and say, "Um, sweetie, that's your baby." Right, of course. I knew that.

I feel that moment of "seriously, me, a mom?" comes back so often. Like on certain days when we haven't had much to do, or when it's been so miserably hot (like the past week) and we have just been kind of laying around the apartment, I'll feel like I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing to mother this child. Do I sit and simply watch him as he insists on rolling himself over on his tummy and squalling because he--you guessed it--is now on his tummy? Am I allowed to check my email if he's just hanging out, slobbering on his favorite chew toy, SassyDog? Does is make me a bad mother if I want to call a friend and have a conversation while he's awake instead of waiting until he's asleep? I am not even kidding--I actually think these things, and what's worse is that I am SURE other mothers don't do this. They have the Mothering Instinct. They got the memo with the bulleted points laying out Better Parenting Skills. For pete's sake, they probably even have a Schedule.

I guess I just feel Andrea Buchanan put it most succintly in her wonderful book Mother Shock, in which she describes feeling like she's somehow not deserving of the title of mother--like she should have to take a preparatory course, apprentice to a Veteran Mom, or get officially certified or something. At the very least, they should make us wear nametags that say "I'm in training." That's how I feel most of the time. I do relish the moments when I know Just What to Do, and they are getting more and more frequent, but honestly, I think there should be a disclaimer on the whole mom title that this woman may appear to be more knowledgable than she really is.

But I'm trying not to overthink it.