In the past three days I have been upstreamed four times, cried because a cab wouldn’t pick me up, cried in that same cab after he saw me crying on the street and felt bad, cried at [WELL-KNOWN RETAIL STORE] because their customer service was god awful, gave a blonde couple the double finger because they they cut in front of me and the stroller and almost got hit by a van. Also, it’s freezing outside. You bitch of a city, you have a lot of making up to do.
I’ve now been a mom for over a year. I know everyone says this and everyone thinks everyone says it because it’s what you say, but it’s truly been the best year of my life. I love this kid and she makes every day better.
I’ve far from mastered this mom thing, but I have learned a lot of important gems along the way. Here goes:
1. I am smarter, faster, stronger and other Daft Punk lyrics
I now accomplish more in a day than I ever did as a non-mom. I’m baffled by what I did with my time before (although I think it had something to do with w-i-n-e). I get up earlier; I got to bed later. I deal with being tired. I don’t bitch about what I have to do or think about how hard it is, mostly because I don’t have time. I just get shit done. And I have be smart about how I get it done because I have a super demanding job both at work and home.
2. I don’t like people telling me how to be a parent
You can read more about it here, but I’d like to figure most of this out with Sam. I can look up what I need. I’ll ask you if I want your opinion.
3. Being a parent in NYC is hard
Really hard. We deal with stuff non-New Yorkers don’t deal with and we deal with it on foot. (Most of us) don’t have carseats strapped in our cars because we don’t have cars. Which means to get your kid anywhere, you have to carry them, push them or lug a carseat in a cab. Every time you go anywhere, it has to be carefully planned. You notice people’s assholeness more and it makes you angrier. Oh, and it’s ridiculously expensive.
4. But, being a parent in NYC can be easy
You can order anything ever at any moment and have it delivered to your fingertips. I’m talking breast pumps and diapers and dog food. Never have I appreciated this more than when I’ve been exhausted or the baby’s napping or the weather is terrible.
5. Babies don’t do what you want them to and every baby’s different
Charlie’s unlike any other person in the world. In the beginning, I would get worried if she wasn’t rolling over at the same age as another baby. I’ve stopped comparing her to other kids because she’s not comparable because in our eyes she’s the most amazing kid we’ve ever met. Because she’s ours. She’s already trying out words, but she hasn’t sprouted a single tooth. She’s not quite ready to take her first step, but girlfriend stopped using bottles entirely at eleven months because she’s a big girl with a big girl sippy cup. Who friggin’ cares? She’s amazing. Everyone’s kid is.
6. In other news, I’ve stopped comparing myself to other moms
No one else walks in my shoes. No one else has my kid and my job in my neighborhood in my city. How we choose to raise our kid is just great. We’re doing our best. I’ve stopped beating myself up if I don’t remember everything or I can’t make it to the school Halloween parade because it’s in the middle of the work day. I don’t get upset if another mom is in better shape than I am or seems more put together. It’s just. Not. Important.
7. I am ferociously protective of my baby
I know this seems obvious, but I didn’t realize just how protective until last week. See, Charlie’s teacher put all the kids’ pictures on the classroom door, dressed as construction paper pilgrims. When I picked her up, I noticed Charlie wasn’t up there. I was so angry, I left the classroom choking back tears. WHAT?! I WAS SWATTING AWAY TEARS ON THE STREET BECAUSE A PILGRIM VERSION OF MY KID WASN’T ON THE DOOR. After talking to several trusted sources, I calmed down enough to confront her teachers in a way that didn’t make me look like a clown. The next morning I marched in her classroom and… noticed that some of the kids were featured inside the classrooms as turkeys. Charlie was front and center. This silliness made me realize that there will be times when she’s left out or when the world treats her unfairly. I can’t cry about it every time and I can’t always protect her. She’s going to have to figure some challenges out for herself. But for the love of god, if you don’t include my daughter in your arts and crafts Thanksgiving celebration…
8. Every second gets better
Everyone says it, but it really does. When we first met our daughter, she could barely see us and now she laughs at our jokes (well, she laughs when we blow farts on her feet). She knows where her books are and hands them to us to read. She blows kisses and waves to dogs and hugs us tight around the neck. She’s a person. We can communicate with each other. It’s awesome.
9. It’s OK to be selfish-ish
We love all the people in our lives and these loves want to hang out with our special girl. In the beginning, we would pack in the activities and end up doing a million things over the weekend. We didn’t want to disappoint anyone and we wanted to see everyone. But we’ve learned to say no because some weekends need to be as simple as getting brunch at 10am (see below). It’s OK to say no. It’s also OK to say no because you’re tired or just don’t feel like loading a ton of gear into a Zip Car.
10. There is a different world that I knew nothing about
The first time we went to brunch at 10am (most New Yorkers eat brunch at 12 or 1), we were shocked to find that everyone in the restaurant had a baby. Every table had a high chair with a pile of food around it. Most of the parents had a beer. Around 11, most of the babies started losing it, so most of us packed up our gear and scooted out the door. Many of us made a stop at the playground down the street. We had entered a world we never knew about before or even noticed. It’s a world of early wake-ups and early brunches. One where you fit small moments of your old life into your new life-with-baby. It feels nice to share that restaurant with a bunch of families with piles of scrambled eggs at our feet. The Penn Lager feels nice, too.
Well, I did it. I made it through a year of breastfeeding + pumping. I have to tell you, I thought I’d feel elated, but I also feel kind of sad. It’s like a huge chapter has ended.
Things I loved:
Giving my child the most nutritious thing on the planet
Providing her with something only I could provide her with
Helping to protect her from illness and disease
My weight loss :)
Having my own getaway at work where I was forced to take 5 - 10 minutes of alone time and breathe
Things I didn’t love:
Pumping in strange, embarrassing places like planes, trains and cars (also at a wedding, kneeling in a conference room with giant windows that weren’t quite covered)
Not being able to eat or drink whatever I want
The inconvenience (to myself and others)
About a month before the year ended, I started introducing cow’s milk to Charlie (on our doctor’s recommendation). She hated it. I began to panic because this was what she was going to have to drink for the foreseeable future. We tried mixing it with the breast milk, but she knew and refused it. I tried giving it to her in different cups. Mixing it with formula. Warming it up. No. Way.
Then one day, things changed—almost in an instant. She started refusing the breast milk and her bottle entirely. She would hold her lips closed and shake her head. I thought she needed a bottle to go to sleep so I would try to get her to drink it. But she was not having it.
The day she chugged a sippy cup full of cow’s milk, I was so happy. She loved it. She craved it. It made me feel like we are all meant to reach certain milestones in our lives and we take the step when we’re ready. It was like something in her tiny body switched on and said, “OK, it’s time to drink this thing that’s good for me in my big girl cup.”
I continued to wean, pumping less each week until I was at two pumps a day. Then one. Ahh, the hours I got back. I did my final pump on a Saturday morning and toasted my husband with a glass of Rosé because I really deserved it.
I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience. I don’t take it for granted at all and every moment of inconvenience was worth it. I’m lucky that my transition into a milk-free mama was painless and easy. I’m lucky my kid drinks milk from the glorious cow and that I no longer feel like one. Cheers.
Our very close friends just had a baby. Because we love them, all Sam and I want to do is guide them through this special time. Help them. Give them advice. We’re almost a year ahead of them, after all.
Then I thought back to when I first had Charlie and every day since. Sure, I reached out to some friends, my mom, or our doctor ( OK, I called the doctor every other day) if I had a question, but mostly it was nice to figure a lot of it out on our own. It was why we didn’t want a bunch of relatives helping out when we got home (that and because we live in a NYC apartment). We wanted to try out being a family. On our own. We wanted to stumble through it together because it felt natural.
After we got used to being parents, I began to dislike getting advice, especially unsolicited. Now, I can’t think of anything worse. For me, it feels awful. It feels like I’m being told by someone else how to be a parent. If I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to know. Plus, and here’s something advice-givers simply don’t understand, there’s this thing called Google that I’m on every second of the day. It has all the information that ever existed and if Charlie even looks at something, I look it up. If she makes a weird snorty noise, I look it up. I look up every toy she might ever play with and every food and every behavior. And it’s my own guided tour of parenting articles, tips and tricks because I get to choose what I read and who I listen to.
So, I solemnly vow to not give advice to our new parent friends and I’ve made Sam vow, too. They need to cozy up to this whole parenting thing and get to know their little girl. Because it’s their little girl and they will know better than anyone what she needs. But, man, if they ask, I am ready. Only if they ask.