Ok, I'll admit it. I wasn't in love with my first newborn son.
I didn't stare at him in awe and wonder, nor did I gaze adoringly at him for hours on end. In fact, when we got home from the hospital, and all of our family, friends and visitors had gone, I stared at him in silence and thought, ''WTF has happened to me."
For the first few months, I couldn't get my teeth brushed before noon and I was crying on a daily (or hourly) basis. Each moment, I sat waiting for my baby's next unholy sh*t-fit. And I would have likely stayed that way forever, until one day, my husband, searching for a way to soothe my anxiety, changed my life forever with a few choice words: "I guarantee you, he's going to cry again, babies cry, that's what they do. Get over it.''
The words, ''GET OVER IT'' really stung. While my husband meant it in a supportive way, these words hit me like a bombshell as I sat nursing the baby in my painstakingly designed nursery. But in the end I needed those words, because it helped me realize that my own personal happiness lie not in whether my baby cried, but in how I handled it. So what did I do? Instead of feeling hurt and holding a grudge towards my husband, I took action. While didn't have any close mom friends, or even family I could turn to, with one call to a semi-friend, I unknowingly started forming my own ''village''. And in that one call, I formed the basis of a parenting strategy that has been unbelievably successful for not just my first son, but the two little crazies that came later.
So what did work for me?
1. Babies Cry, Let 'Em. We've heard it a million times but only you can make it happen. In a slightly edited version of what Stuart Smalley said on SNL many years ago, ''You are good enough, you are strong enough and doggone it, get yourself together.'' It's okay to let the baby cry and give yourself a time-out. Turn around, take a breath and leave him to wail it out in his crib while you do what you need to settle your nerves. Trust me, he won't be scarred for life. He won't even remember that you took a break, but trust me, you will.
2. Get The Monster Out of the House. When the baby won't stop crying, get outta dodge, no matter how whacked out you think you look. Just go and see new faces other than the one that is driving you crazy.
3. Create Your ''Village." Find girlfriends with babies who are the same age as yours with whom you can share your war stories. Your crying, your anxiety, and yes, your hatred and bitterness, are normal. You just need to find the right village to learn that. But know that even a 3-month age difference in your babies puts your best friend in a different land. You don't need your best friends, just others that are sharing the exact same experience. So be sure to surround yourself with grown-ups whose kids are the same age as yours and with those who share a similar parenting philosophy. The last thing you need at this time in your life is to butt heads on parenting strategies. So meet up regularly, vent about your crappy baby, crappy partner, and everything that's crap in your life. Do it before your baby does you in.
4. Remember the Mantra: ''It Will End''. You know that thing you just can't stand that your baby is doing? The thing that makes you want to run out of the house screaming? I guarantee he won't be doing it in six months. He most definitely won't be doing it in kindergarten either. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep reminding yourself that. Every. Single. Day.
5. In the end, it's YOU. Nobody is going to save you. There is no knight in shining armor. Stop waiting for your partner, your parents or your friends to do it for you. You are the solution. Yes, my husband shocked my system back into order, but at the end of the day, I turned my life around myself. I had to rise above and fix my sh*t and YOU CAN DO IT, TOO.
I am not special, I just decided to do it and stuck to it. You must find what works to steady yourself. Most importantly for you! Because being a mom doesn't mean you're not still a woman with your own needs. Don't wallow in misery even if you do have to drag the dumb heavy car seat and diaper bag with you everywhere because the great news is you won't be walking into kindergarten with it. Take care of yourself NOW, so you don't feel beaten down tomorrow!