You know what I did last month? In the throes of a severe depression unlike anything I’ve felt since I was 15 and missed Ani Difranco on her Little Plastic Castle tour, I forgot to book Lucy a 4 month visit at her pediatrician. Forgot! You’re supposed to take babies in once a month for things like vaccines and making sure they’re still healthy and okay, and I just forgot to do that. Then I beat myself up about it for two days before actually calling to make the appointment. Then the receptionist told me, “You know, it’s really important not to miss these visits.” Well thank you for letting me know.
There are so many small anxieties like these, and they happen all the time. I should really wash Lu’s pacifier more, especially since she throws it on the ground 400 times a day. Two times (okay, three) I forgot to buckle her into her car seat when I was driving (I had to tape a post-it to my steering wheel that says “IS LUCY BUCKLED IN??”). Pretty much every morning while she’s partying in her exersaucer I sneak in five games of candy crush when I should probably just be engaging with her and teaching her world geography. I love propping bottles instead of holding her when she eats, so I can use those 20 minutes to pick up the house or make dinner, but she will probably grow up to be a psychopath because she missed out on that mother-daughter bonding time where we shoot love beams into each others eyes while she drinks milk.
Please don’t let me be the only one who does this: constantly feels bad about my billions of perceived shortcomings as a mother.
In honor of the anniversary of Lucy’s 5th month on planet earth, which is today, I’m going to make a list of some things that I’m doing right. These are the things I need to be reminded of, and these are the things I need to remember the next time I want to shame-spiral because Lucy isn’t eating homemade baby food today because I slept 3 hours last night.
1. We go places. Everyday, rain or shine, I pack up Lu’s things and take her somewhere. Sometimes we go for a nature walk, and feel the sun shine and the wind blow on our faces. Yesterday, we drove all the way to Point Pleasant Beach so Lucy could take her first dip in a swimming pool and hang out with the huge ducks in my uncle’s backyard. Sometimes we go to the mall and people-watch. Whatever it is, I make sure she sees a little bit of the world each day.
2. I should probably include in this list that Lucy’s every need is met. I feed her, change her, play with her, love her, and make her smile all day every day. Does keeping her alive, healthy and happy count as an accomplishment? This is the thing I need to remember the next time I get mad at myself for giving her a bath 15 minutes early because I’m exhausted and just want to end the day already: she is getting a bath. Wow! I’m the best.
3. God, I’m really hard on myself. I should probably feel bad about that, too. Speaking of, when am I going to lose the rest of this baby weight?
I’m the type who’s always been unnecessarily tough on myself. I’ve never lived up to my own expectations, which are very unforgiving and impossible to meet. But you know what? This is not what I want Lucy to grow up with. I don’t want her to grow up pinching her hips in the mirror and complaining she’s too fat to wear a jumpsuit. I don’t want her to think the B she worked her ass off for isn’t as good as an easy A.
So, in honor of that, I hereby forgive myself in advance for the next time I forget a doctor’s appointment or use the five second rule on her pacifier. I forgive myself for giving up on breastfeeding when it got to be too hard. I forgive myself for not vacuuming everyday and the fact that sometimes she eats a handful of dog hair. And I’m going to start wearing jumpsuits every damn day I want, even if I’m 15 pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant.
The kind of mother I really want to be is one who drives far in a single day because I think she would like to hang out with backyard ducks. When she’s old enough, I want to take her outside in the dirt and let her get filthy making mud pies (I want to get muddy, too). I want to eat pixie sticks with her before dinner not even on her birthday. I want to teach her how to make costume jewelry out of (whole wheat) macaroni and then not feel bad after I leave the room for two seconds and come back and she’s feeding toxic Chinese paint to the dog.
Lucy, you are LOVED.
I need to work more on loving myself, too.