Becoming a parent is a frightening thing. No matter what age, or how parenthood comes about, nearly everyone I know is awed and scared of the responsibilities involved.
Now that Eleanor's 21 months old, it's hard to even remember what I was thinking when I was pregnant. Particularly because all of my preconceptions went out the window after, oh, maybe 24 hours of being a parent. Whatever I was thinking, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I do know that I was a little worried about how I would relate to a newborn. I've worked with school-aged children from 5 up to high school, so I knew that I would be okay once the child was reading and counting. But such a tiny baby? What do you do? What is required?
Eleanor's first 6 months were really, really rough. I didn't feel like a very good mom at all. I was tired, frustrated, and depressed all the time. I couldn't handle constantly being at her beck and call ... when even she didn't know what she needed! I felt like every time I learned how to do something, the situation would change. I was never getting ahead, always doing everything wrong.
I felt like a terrible mother, even though I was trying my best. And to be a terrible mother is the worst failure of all. Because this was the first time that I wouldn't just be disappointing myself, but also a small, helpless creature who was completely dependent on my abilities and compassion to keep her alive.
This sounds really depressing, doesn't it? Because it was, at the time. It was really difficult, because I felt like I was always going to be a terrible mother. I would constantly be doubting my abilities and whether Eleanor was getting all of the love and attention that she needed and deserved.
But things slowly changed. We'd had a really difficult time with breastfeeding, and we phased that out by 8 months. Eleanor was eating better, sleeping through the night, and developing her own personality. She started calling me "Mama," and actually seemed to be a relatively happy, well-adjusted baby.
Finally, as we get closer to Eleanor's 2nd birthday, I can accept that I'm really a very good mom. I'm not a very good mother of a newborn, and I'm okay with that. There's a lot about such a small baby that stresses me out, from the lack of sleep to the complete unpredictability of every day. With that obviously being the first experience as a parent, I was worried. Would it all be like this?
But it's not. I wasn't a particularly happy mother of a newborn, but I'm a kick-ass toddler mom. And just wait until she's reading! We're going to have so much fun.