Before I had Cy, I used to make a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose myself in motherhood. I have been a part of the mommy blogger community long enough to know how easy it is for mothers to get so consumed by being a mother that they let all the other parts of their identity fall by the wayside. Then, as their kids slowly grew into independence, these mothers would be left without their sense of purpose–who they were before kids no longer fit, and as their primary function as mother no longer brought so many demands, they faced a crisis of identity.
Now that I’ve been a mother for two months, I can see more clearly how easy it is to let motherhood become one’s entire identity. I find myself giving over entirely to him. My previous interests fall into the background as I spend more time obsessing over his needs. Whatever time is left is dedicated to the basic requirements of survival and maintaining a functioning home. And I don’t really miss what came before.
Sometimes I do get impatient with the demands of raising an infant. Sometimes I long for him to grow more quickly so that I can catch a break. But when I try to formulate in my head what that “break” really means, what it is I’m longing for, the only things I find I really want is a decent cup of cappuccino, and for him to be able to play a little more independently for at least a few minutes at a stretch so I don’t have to be ON all. the. time.
I wonder if this state is a natural biological imperative, arising simply because his needs right now are so big and so much, and if as he grows in independence, I’ll start to want to reclaim mine. I wonder if I’ll be so attuned to him that, as he grows, I simply can’t let go, even if I might theoretically want to.
This week our mostly quiet, cheerful infant has suddenly become supremely fussy. I suspect it’s partly some minor gastrointestinal discomforts, which may or may not be related to a possible growth spurt. He’s suddenly growing a lot longer these days, so maybe there’s some growing pains thrown in the mix. Whatever it is, he’s been crying more often and longer, once or twice apparently inconsolably. I mean, he’s not colicky or anything. It’s just more crying than we’re used to, when before, I could probably count on one hand the number of full minutes he’d cry collectively in one day.
At first, I fought against this change in our son. Mentally and emotionally, I chafed against it, and the more upset he was, the less calm or patient I could be. Previously any crying was directly tied to a discoverable reason. Now sometimes there is no discernible reason. I fought it hard. But in the last few days, I’ve found myself surrendering to it. I just do my best and ride it out. Most times we figure it out. Sometimes we don’t. But either way it’s easier on me when I just go with it and stop expecting life to be different than what it is.
Yesterday had been a long, fussy day. In the early evening, however, he fell asleep while nursing on the first side, so I sat with him, not moving until he awoke, wanting to give him a chance to finally get a decent nap. He woke a half hour later, and I brought him to bed and lay down with him, nursing him down to sleep on the other side, allowing him to use me as a pacifier. I normally don’t do that, but he seemed to need it, and I needed the rest too. My friends, he slept for FIVE hours. It was amazing. And when he woke, all fussiness was gone. He giggled and cooed at us, making us smile and laugh for about an hour before signaling that he was ready to go back to sleep. We swaddled him up, and he slept again for another four hours.
In that time he was awake, I played with him, I wooed him with my songs. I snuggled right up to his face and he snuggled back. And that moment right there…it made up for the entire day.
(And today, he started to seem more like his usual self–gastrointestinally and behaviorally. Fingers crossed, we’re through the growth spurt–if that’s what’s to blame.)
Aside from growing longer, several other developmental changes have shown up this week. He found his fingers and has started sucking on his fist. He’ll catch your eye and hold a gaze for a long time. He’s starting to enjoy hanging out in his little activity gym; he likes the mirror best (little narcissist) and listening to the tinkle of little bells inside one of the toys that dangles from the bars. He’s not interested in the toys yet, but there’s a large orange circular piece that connects the bars, and he’ll stare at that, enrapt, for many long minutes. And his little vocalizations are getting louder and longer. I love his little voice. I can’t get enough of it. He’s hardly talking and already I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
And I tell him, “Hey, little man, you and me. We’re a good team, aren’t we? You and me.”
Thing I Love About Cy Today: That even when he has a rough day, like on Monday, when he had to get two immunization shots, he still has the wherewithal to smile at us and coo.