method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Eating my words

I recently read through my old blog posts, and with some chagrin I noticed this gem from my book review of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety:

But I will not sacrifice myself or my marriage for my child’s temporal needs. When the child is older, will he give a damn that he ate homemade babyfood? No way. But I will remember the years of his youth, and I want to look back on them fondly, not as a time when I was stretched beyond my limits.

I cringed at my use of the term “temporal needs”. I am not really sure what I meant when I threw out that phrase, but the mother in me now finds it to be a bit harsh. How have I changed so much since then? I am now very firm in my belief that a baby’s so-called temporal needs are exceedingly important to his development. News flash: babies are babies. They cry because they need you to hold them, love them, comfort them. When you hold your baby, you are not merely meeting a temporal need, you are demonstrating to him that he is not alone and that he is safe. You are teaching him that he can trust you and that you are there for him. Studies show that meeting your baby’s needs in this manner results in children who are more secure, have healthier relationships and are more empathetic to others. I do strive to meet all of my baby’s needs, and once they are met I generally find that it is easier to meet my own needs.

If I could send a message to the version of myself that existed two years ago, I would say:

You are absolutely right that you will give up many of life’s pleasures in order to be a mother. There will be plenty of moments when you wish you could put the baby back inside the womb. There will be nights when you cry because you don’t remember what it was like to stay out past 7 o’clock. Most of your waking and sleeping time will be spent with a baby in very close proximity. He will be demanding, and you will feel that you can never quite live up to his expectations. You will daydream about what it is like to have a whole day to yourself. But here’s the thing: this is just one small chapter in your life. The days are very, very long, but the years will be very short. Remember that this is just one season of your life, and relish the good things about it: a baby who wants you near him always (you know that won’t last forever), a baby who lets you hug and kiss him to your heart’s content, a baby who is discovering the world, a baby who is cute beyond measure.

Embracing motherhood with gusto doesn’t have to mean losing yourself. You do need to go on a date once in awhile, so ask someone to babysit. You need to get out by yourself every once in awhile, so leave the baby with the husband while you do your own thing. But don’t brush aside the baby’s needs in the process. His needs are exceedingly important as he is a developing little person. This does not mean embracing the Super Mom persona – it just means loving your baby.

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July 16, 2009 - Posted by | all things baby, motherhood

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