It all started with a simple question, “Is she good?”
I can’t remember who was asking it or where I was, but I do remember thinking, “Does anyone say no to that question?”
The person was referring to Briar, our first daughter. The idea of saying, “No, as a matter of fact, I am so glad you asked because let me tell you, this kid does not sleep. Ever.” was just too horrifying to consider.
Briar slept in bed with us until she 14 months old. I won’t say that there weren’t times that I didn’t revel in the closeness, but honestly, 14 months is a really long time, longer still if it is by necessity, not choice.
Here’s the thing, I lie, or at least I bend the truth. It feels as if saying “No,” to the constant inquiries about if an infant is good would somehow be a criticism of my baby or an admission of my own failure. I don’t know where the middle ground between honesty and social appropriateness exists. When people ask me if Finley is good I say yes, because of course she is good. Of course we adore her, just like we do Briar and Avery, but there is more.
Many nights, beginning sometime between 4 and 7 and continuing until between 9 and 10:30, Finley is inconsolable. She scrunches her little face, digs her feet in and screeches into a multi-hour tantrum. There is no amount of nursing, burping, cooing, bouncing, walking, begging, bribing, weeping or praying that changes it. She is simply not done until she is done. To say that it is maddening or that it makes us feel like total failures doesn’t even begin to describe it. My god, I close the windows for fear the neighbors will think I am doing her harm.
We have had similar trials with Briar and Avery at different times in their lives, but really, who wants to say that? The truth is Briar barely slept for the first year and a half of life, Avery has a will so stubborn it could plug leaks in battleships and Finley, well Finley has a maddeningly intense fussy time.
There are other truths too–
Being a working mom is f*cking hard.
Marriage can be exhausting.
I feel like I am failing as a mom as many days as I feel I am succeeding.
Small town life can be a bit like a prison sentence.
For all the stronger body image talk, I’d love a tighter ass and different hair.
Despite all of those things, and forgetting that last night was another one of Fin’s bad nights, I do love being a working mom and wife in a small town. I wouldn’t trade it, nor am I ashamed by any of it, but I’ll be damned if I am going to open Pandora’s box of complaints every time someone coos at the girls and looks at me expectantly as they say, “Tell me, are they good kids?”
I may ask how tight that person’s ass is though, think that’s fair?
Excellent, honest post. By the time number four came along, my wife started answering that question with,
"NO! Would you please take him away from me for a day or two?!"
Hang in there. She'll be going to prom soon . . .
yeah, somewhere along the way, i decided that if i wanted to, i'd be all, "no, he's an SOB. i hate motherhood."
that felt good from time to time.
I do the same thing. We are trained to auto-respond "Fine" or "Great!" when someone asks how we are. And it extends to more specific questions as well. I am also trained to always say no when somebody offers me a bite of their food. Without even thinking about whether I'd actually like a bite. I don't know where that one comes from. Maybe a desire not to be seen as greedy?
Heck yeah. I usually answer that my son is a terror just to get people off my back. LOL!
I remember when Madeline was about 2 months old we took her over to our friend's house who didn't have any kids. There was a group of about 5 women (none with kids) and they asked how it was going. I said these exact words "I love her and she is amazing but this is really the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life and I don't love the really hard parts." The looks on their faces. I decided after that I would stick to "it's great… she is wonderful" after that. Although I am still a truth teller to those who are close to me and who want to have kids someday. I am not doing them any favors by only sharing the sunny side. Motherhood is too tough to think you are the only one that doesn't love every minute. That is way too much pressure on a hormone soaked first time mom.
Of course now there are all these mommy blogs and you get to hear the real stuff. Thank goodness.
I don't know why people ask that question ~ they'd likely be very uncomfortable to know the truth.
You are right… It's fucking hard to be a working mom. And a wife. Especially if you'd like to be a good one.
I know you weren't asking for advice so please pardon my unsolicted piece here… but I wonder if she might be lactose intolerant? It sounds like a tummy ache to me. G is and when he was a baby, he'd cry and cry, inconsolable and it never occurred to me that this could be the case. When he was 4.5 I figured it out and now he gets no more tummy aches because we switched him to lactose free milk. You could try it yourself for just a few days (with him, the results were immediate). It's not uncommon for babies to have a hard time digesting dairy ~ even filtered through breast milk. Might be worth a shot. And again, sorry if this was unwarranted ~ not trying to be offensive but wasn't sure if you'd tried it…
Oh, and I haven't seen your ass but I do like your hair 🙂
this may be my favorite post of yours, ever.
compellingly, unflinchingly honest.
but also so loving.
ps the stuff is on its way.
I love this post. So very honest. I dig me some honesty.
I like to say, "They're both a couple of hooligans. I'm expecting they'll choose to go into pole dancing."
Maybe this is why the Tuesday Group of Moms don't want me around?
No KIDDING about small town life. GOD.
We used to tell people "No, she's a horrible baby. She smokes and gives herself tattoos."
Sometimes I feel awful about the amount of time I spent complaining about Lillian. But, the thing is, she was just so hard. It was all me, all the time, for a good five months. By the end of it, I was done. Just done.
I just had to get it out. And you're right. It is hard. All of it. But Lord, when these kiddos of ours make it worth it, it's rather humbling.
Oh, I get this. I think most moms would. For me, it started in pregnancy. When people ask how you are, I think they really just want to show they are somewhat interested for politeness' sake. They only want to hear "Fine." They don't want to hear about your uterus or placenta. Same thing with kids. We let it slip to one neighbor that our son was a terrible sleeper, and suddenly the whole neighborhood knew — even the postal carrier. We still get people asking if he's sleeping better, which is annoying.
you seem good at finding balance. Always highlighting the beauties…that is what you will remember anyway.
This is a wonderfully honest post. Having some distance from it now, I wonder if we say "fine, great baby!" because we're afraid the things we want to complain about are somehow our fault.
She cries because we can't figure out what's wrong.
He won't sleep because I did something wrong.
They won't stop bickering because I'm a bad mother ..
..and it goes on and on.
The messages we repeat to ourselves! Especially on a rough day.
Unfortunately loving them like crazy doesn't make it easy. And I think it's great to say it out loud. 🙂
Oh, I feel you. Emma was colicky for 6 straight months. From 3pm to 9pm EVERY SINGLE DAY we endured her "witching hour". It got so that I came to expect it and often cried along with her. Then one day, it just stopped. As quickly as it started, it just stopped. And the silence was deafening….deliciously deafening. Hang in there mama. You know that newborns are hard work. And you are doing a great job. Keep it up and it will get easier…..but you already know that.
And incidentally, don't feel guilty or ashamed for admitting that your kids can be difficult sometime. Kids are great, but hard work too. There's nothing wrong with the rest of the world knowing that it's not all coos and dress-up all the time.
Wow — just found your blog and now I've decided to stay a while and check out more.
This was a great post. So true.
When I'm out and about and my son is being cute with strangers, I get a lot of "Oh, you're so lucky to have such a good baby!" Yes, I'm lucky, I know. He is good — but not when I put him in the car seat. Or try to change his diaper. Or say "no" to him. Or, or, or…
Thanks for the post.
You have probably heard this but just in case; sometimes Lukas would settle down if I ran the vacuum or blow dryer near him. I also bought the Sleep Sheep that makes whale noises and he seemed to like that also.
This post resonates with me so deeply that out of nowhere tears welled up in my eyes.
My baby, now five months, cries for hours every night. She's perfectly adorable in public and when my husband is home during the day, but from 4pm until ??? I want to kill myself to avoid rattling her brains out. We usually cry together.
Thanks for your honesty, I relate so much to this post, so much. I found your blog a bit intimidating recently, because it just all seemed so beautiful and perfect, and I know that adjusting to a new baby is beautiful, but far from perfect in my life. It's somehow reassuring to know that even an admirable woman like you who seems to have such a healthy appreciation for life can find this adjustment period hard too, sometimes. And holy heck I hear you on small town life, this is a big struggle that I'm going through personally right now, and because the small town peeps know about my blog I can't even write about it there, not the stuff that is really making our lives trying right now, because it would be horrible on so many levels if our locals all knew our business. And heaven forbid if our kid is different, or a bad sleeper or whatever, when everyone knows it because everyone knows everyone's stuff, well, we need to protect what privacy we can right?
Somehow we all get through this time, this raw time of holding an inconsolable baby who just needs to cry and be loved as they cry. Hahaha at the going to the prom soon, so true, but unbelievable, huh?!
When people asked me if Clara was a good baby I would say "No. She's a grumpy troll. But a cute one." And you are right, they didn't want to hear it. They kind of looked at me strange and I am sure they were making notes to never leave their children with me. Hee hee.
I loved this post. For all your gorgeous posts on motherhood it's nice to know you are just like the rest of us, at least every once and a while.
I completely and utterly know what you mean. I remember with colicky Middle I described my feelings with this: "I love him, but sometimes I don't like him."
My Anna had a "witching hour" for months. Between 5 and 8. Nothing made her happy. She'd just scream and cry and sob. Very, very upsetting for everybody.
When people meet her, they often comment, "Oh, what a happy baby! I can't imagine her crying!" Ha. Yeah. Okay.
Funny enough, my favorite picture of her is still the one taken when she was crying. Her face all scrunched up and angry. Glaring at the camera. Love it. She's my girl. My little spit-fire, firecracker.