Saturday, December 2, 2006

pretend mommy

Now that I'm a parent, my friends are divided into four categories:
1. Those who have not had children yet.
2. Those who have had first babies before me. They are still pretty clueless, but waaaay less clueless than I am.
3. The professional mommies. They have multiple children! (How do they do it?)
4. Those who have had first babies after me. Since Lucy is only 3 months old, this is a very select group. With one member.
I can feel smugly advanced/ahead-of-the-game only in comparison to categories 1 and 4. (Patting their head: "Oh, it gets better after the first few weeks! Trust me!" )
This is not very many people.

It helps that we're doing the super-crunchy EC thing. Then I have something to be an expert at--guaranteed. Unless I'm talking to Evelyn, my sister-in-law.

It's easy to joke about this, especially since my delusions of grandeur are so overblown. But comparisos are a real issue. Why is it so easy to feel 'less than' or 'more than' when talking about parenthood?
I love my friends in category 3. They are the ones keeping me sane. But sometimes, I want to feel less like an novice. And I find myself wondering, "Is this they way Sarah or Evelyn or Melissa or Jerusha would do this? They probably don't have this problem. Or--they probably solved this problem so much more smoothly. Or--they probably didn't even think this was a problem, because they're so much closer to God than I am. And they love their children more. And have whiter teeth." Etc, etc.
But then I don't really like feeling superior and 'older' than people either.
I find myself wanting a friend who had given birth _at the same time_ as Lucy (okay, give or take a day) so that we'd be unable to feel further ahead or further behind than the other. (Of course, since my child is so startlingly advanced, that would probably still be a problem).
A good friend of mine has an eight-month-old who doesn't sleep. A few weeks ago, she asked _me_ for advice. I was appalled and gratified all at once. Sort of like if I were a 2nd year med student and a third year resident asked for help on a diagnosis. Half feeling, "Are you crazy? How the heck should I know?" And half, "You finally recognized my genius!"

Sometimes I remind myself that I am the only expert mommy for my child (and other people for theirs). The only one that exists! They broke the mold! That only my instincts, my knowledge are right for my child!
This helps, except for when I want to lord it over other people.
What I'd really like is confidence. And peace. That I'm doing an okay job, and that the times when I'm ready to pull my hair out are normal, even though the situation (Lucy wants to nurse...again) wouldn't seem to merit it. That it is okay to feel like I'm doing everything I can just to have a few minutes away from my (lovely, sweet, amazing) daughter. And that when I don't get those few minutes, it's acceptable to end up crying in the closet. Among the shoes.
If I do get that confidence and peace, I don't want it to feel like someone patting my head, saying "there, there."
I want to know it, feel it, own it.
And then feel so much better than others who don't have that knowledge.


Melissa said...

The thing about confidence in parenting is that the kids keep growing and changing and presenting new joys and challenges. So you'll have zillions of opportunities to feel totally unequal to the job of discipling them, even if you were on top of it two weeks ago. Or, um, maybe that's just me. I'm also not the one with whiter teeth. Just sayin'.

Heather said...

You know you use Crest white Strips. You Brightsmile addict, you.
I hear you about the changing game, though. It's surprising how quickly their 'patterns' change. And even more surprising how quickly I learn how to change my dance steps in response.