I’ve been driving myself crazy the past few days with these thoughts:
- Ike is just not a happy baby. Connor was my happy kid and now we’ve got an angst-y 1-month old. Ike already hates my uncool guts.
- I’m raising an insecure child because of my lack of a rigidly-structured routine. Ike hates me because I put him in the carseat at unexpected times of day, his crib is like a foreign country to him, and he never knows what’s coming next.
- Ike’s head is just going to loll off of his neck one of these days because those limp-noodle baby necks are just so damn inconvenient.
Are you catching the common theme in all of these thoughts? I’m projecting parental hate on a human whose vision has just started to focus enough to allow him to see me. Ike cries much more than Connor did (there I go again, comparing), at least from what I can remember of my romanticized maternity leave with ‘Rado. I’m trying to just let it go, but my just-let-it-go meter feels like it’s being overloaded every time Ike lets out one of his pterodactyl cries or when he grunts and struggles his way through the night. Why does he sound like he’s trying squirm out of handcuffs at 2 o’ clock in the morning? Why does he cry and yell when all I’m trying to do is love on and play with him? I’m not familiar with this version of kid and am having a hell of a time trying to figure him out. Five weeks into maternity leave and Ike still feels like a complete stranger to me.
I’m trying to figure out how much I’m willing to tailor my life to Ike. Of course, there is a huge level of adjustment happening here in for all of us. What I’m talking about is the should-I-just-go-to-the-store-or-wait-until-after-I’ve-fed-Ike-and-he’s-done-napping type of tailoring. Am I a bad parent for opting to just pack up the little tyke and go, come what may? The one great thing about being Ike’s cafeteria is that food is always available which makes our lives that much more portable, something that I’ve been taking advantage of. With that freedom comes that nagging and reoccurring issue of staying on a schedule and sticking to a routine, the current bane of my existence. Many aspects of parenting are intuitive, but there are those items that could be rationalized both ways; By taking Ike out based on my needs and schedule he will be more adaptable. Then again, by taking him out based on my needs and schedule, he will not gain any sense of repetition and will feel insecure and uncertain about his life. I take some comfort in knowing that I’m probably blowing this way out of proportion, but I remember suffering from the same syndrome with ‘Rado – every little thing becomes a huge, looming conflict and making the wrong decision could scar my child for life. Ok, Jojo, Just Let It Go. However, I welcome any discussion on this issue because, you know, I can’t really completely Just Let It Go.
The past month has gone quickly. I will be heading back to work next week, after which we will all fall into a natural routine of getting ready, heading to our day jobs, and rushing back together at the end of the day like sand spiraling through the funnel of an hour glass. I am looking forward to the restoration of the natural order of things. So much of my day with Ike feels forced; I’m shoving myself in his face to make sure he’s being exposed to all those things Babycenter.com and Parents.com and Don’tbeadeadbeatparent.com tell you to do so that your kid scores at least a 24 on the MCAT. Somehow, the acknowledged ridiculousness of all of this hasn’t been enough to stave me off of it. I’m forcing so much with him because I’m trying to raise Connor Jr.
I’m not sure what needs to happen for me to internalize the fact that Ike is Ike, Ike is not Connor. Ike will be smart and kind and fun and the love of my life in a way completely different from Connor but with the commonality that they are both my kids – sensitive pieces of my heart running exposed in a sharp world. Our hearts are such complex things, how could I expect Ike and Connor to be the same? Because that would just make things easy, that’s why. This isn’t easy, though, and that’s why it’s so worthwhile and fulfilling when that first smile gets cracked or when I can hear Connor galloping around the living room with a stuffed guitar telling me that he’s a rockstar. The beauty is in the struggle. The beauty is here, too: