Sunday, April 03, 2005

Motherhood Lesson #3,986

One of the most interesting things I have had to learn as a new parent is something I never thought would matter to me, but apparently does. That thing is worrying what people think about me, and by extension, my child. As you know, the bambina has only been home a short while and has met lots of new people in that short time. I’ve been trying to balance the need to get her into a rhythm with the need to be sensitive to not completely overwhelming her infant synapses with constant, ongoing new faces and places.

That being said, people want to meet her, and we don’t want to approach every situation with an overprotective “she’ll freak out” attitude. We make sure she is feeling secure and then we assume that she will be just fine, which she mostly is. But, babies being babies, sometimes things don’t go as swimmingly as planned, be it either because of ear infections or sniffles or nap time or just a plain old kiddie meltdown for no reason at all.

What I am learning—and fast—is that I have to let go of (as terrible as this sounds to say) wanting her to perform like a monkey whenever she meets someone. Do you know what I mean? You have this child whom you know to be funny and cute and sparkling and happy and giggly…and then she meets someone and spends the entire time wailing, cranking and just “not being herself.”

I think what I am realizing is that A) it’s not her job to make me look good by being a little Stepford Baby on command, and B) when she is cranky or tired or sick and not feeling up to visitors—that is, just as when she is smiley and cute, she is indeed also “being herself.” When I’m sick I don’t take leave of my personality; I just don’t want to hang out with people and be interactive. Doesn’t make me a cranky person, doesn’t make people think I must have a bad emotional constitution. It makes me normal. So I’m trying to remember that about her. That it’s not her job to validate my mothering skills by being a shiny happy baby 24-7. It’s her job to just be a baby. Even if it means I’m banned from the Perfect Mothers’ Club before I even get some punch and pie at the Open House.

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