I remember the first day that C left Carter and I and went back to work. It was after the hardest week of my life, daily hour-away doctor appointments and more tears and less sleep than I ever imagined possible. Thinking back, I don't know how I lived through it, except maybe on sheer adreneline. He was mine, all mine. The responsibility of changing all diapers, of soothing all cries, of holding him through every single nap. But, that's when I became a mother.
I don't find motherhood easy. I think keeping Carter by myself is exhausting work. C says it's "fun!" but I can count the hours he has had Carter by himself on one hand. Now that he's crawling (no, not walking yet- don't judge!), it's even worse. Just when I settle into my nest on the couch, it's back up to retrieve him from the kitchen or the dog bowl or the laundry room. It's keeping a watchful eye on his every move and knowing that if he's quiet.... he's up to something. It's spotting that mystery item he's just put in his mouth, it's closing doors so he can't go further, it's making sure there are no cords or plugs or other electrical things he can get to. It's hearing him scream when I take one of these forbidden treasures away. It's is he hungry or is he sleepy or did he just shit himself? Even after he goes to bed, I've got my ever-trusty monitor inches from my ear listening, even while trying to relax. A few days ago, while in the midst of double-ear-infection-hell, I didn't wake up all night. I woke with a full bladder at 6am startled that I hadn't heard him cry all night. Was that the case or did I SLEEP THROUGH IT? Oh the guilt.
That's another thing about becoming a mother. The guilt. I feel guilty for being ready to stop breastfeeding, shouldn't I want to nurse til he's ready to quit? I feel guilty for even THINKING about leaving him for a couple of hours to go do something for myself. A movie? A massage? THE GUILT. I feel guilty that he eats more snack food than real food. I feel guilty that I work an hour away from home and that we spend two hours a day in the car. I feel guilty though that he only gets a 45 minute nap on the way home most days. I feel guilty that he doesn't get a bath every night (THERE I SAID IT). I feel guilty that he's still drinking milk from a bottle and not transitioning to a cup. I feel guilty that he isn't walking yet because it's probably my fault for HOLDING HIM TOO MUCH.
No, I don't feel better for confessing. I feel guilty for complaining. And it pisses me off when I read about how mothers should "let go of the guilt". Frankly, I think that's a cop out. Going to get a massage won't make me a better mom, I'll just be sore because I couldn't relax over the GUILT.
Now that I've derailed my well-intentioned post straight into a brick wall of GUILT, I'm going to go take a breath. Don't get me wrong, being a mother is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me and I wouldn't change a single solitary second. I cannot imagine a life without Carter- does one even exist?