66 & 67/365: O Christmas Tree

I know. It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. I don’t really care. I have been listening to Christmas music (and threatening to make a playlist of nothing but “Feliz Navidad” covers) all week. Since Iris has a panic attack whenever we leave her, Carl and I have been lacking in the quality time department, so we decided to have a tree decorating, holiday cookie baking night on our own after Iris was in bed last night.

We also had a long, much needed talk about life after baby. Totally worth doing, we said. We can’t believe how much we love her, we said. And yet… “It’s not as much fun as I thought it would be,” Carl admitted.

And fun, we agreed, is important. However noble and nurturing you believe life is supposed to be, it should also be fun.

….One thing that is NOT fun, however, is sitting with a bunch of young moms and attempting to be real about the craziness of life. The mom on my left just shook her head. “I wouldn’t know what to do with a BAD baby,” she said, snuggling her sugarplum princess. “It makes me scared to have another one.”

“It’s ok,” the mom on my right consoled her. “We thought the same thing—our first one was so easy. But our second is just the same. You’ll get another good one.”

Apparently fake is the new black.

Also, fyi jerkmoms, MY BABY IS NOT BAD. I am so sick of people labeling babies good and bad based on their convenience factor. My baby is super inconvenient, it’s true. She cries if I leave the room; she thinks babysitters are psychotic soulless wraiths sent from hell to torment her; I could count on one hand the church services where I’ve actually been sitting; she has never slept longer than 6 hours in a row (and that about twice); she hates sleeping in general, and she hates car rides with the passion I usually reserve for sexist pastors. Her behaviors are super inconvenient, and if she still has separation anxiety when she’s twenty, we’ll talk. But at 8 months, I think it’s a little early for labeling her immoral.

I wondered later if maybe their weird response was because I had somehow come across as one of those awful people whose story is ALWAYS worse than anything that ever happened to you. But I genuinely don’t feel that way, so I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. It’s so epically obvious that there are more challenging situations—my baby is healthy and I’m not a single parent for starters—that I have trouble believing that’s what was going on.

I think people just have a superstitious need to believe that if you’re stressed out or unhappy or your life feels like it’s falling apart, YOU must be doing something wrong. It’s certainly more appealing than the belief that normal implies a certain amount of struggle, that life is generally insane, and events are often outside of your control.

But anyway.

I’m pretty sure Iris didn’t come into the world to fulfill my roseate fantasies of parenthood or make me look like an awesome mom. My guess is she came to be her busy, curious, opinionated, clever, assertive, funny, driven, grape-obsessed, spit wad blowing self. And (on my good days, anyway) I’m ok with that.

This morning when we came down for breakfast we showed her the Christmas tree, all lit up and full of wonderfully grab-able ornaments. And you know what?

It was fun.



6 thoughts on “66 & 67/365: O Christmas Tree

  1. I like this post a lot. I like your resistance to the labels good/bad. That story makes me want to have a violent reaction on your behalf. I hate when people aren’t honest and real about the hard work of good things, like marriage, writing, parenting…etc. It seems to me as an aunt but an outsider that parenting is one of the most severely judged and judgmental spaces, particularly for women. I say bravo for frankness and authenticity.

    • Christine is so so so right. Ditto to all the things she said that I would love to have thought of first! 😉

      Love the ending of this post too. 🙂 Happy Yule to you all!

  2. Iris is a very busy, very bright, very healthy baby. That’s all great. Michael wouldn’t let me out of his site for 5 years…and now look at him. He’s about halfway around the world. Some babies truly are “easy,” but that doesn’t make them “good”, as you realize, and it doesn’t even make them “better,” it just makes them easier to take care of. A mother of an easy baby may think it’s something she’s doing right, but I truly believe each baby is a unique gift from God and comes fully personality-ized out of the box….leaving the parents’ role as just to appreciate and love the gift, helping her/him blossom into the fulness of all that God created the child to be…and that’s what you’re doing so well…even though it ain’t always easy!

  3. Bah. Seriously. First of all, eight-months is prime stranger anxiety time, so congratulations, your baby is normal. Second, all five of mine have cried when I left the room, hated their car seats, and not slept well unless I was there to snuggle them. Elijah still wakes up most nights after roughly five hours and wants to come in our bed. I’ve spent a full year carrying nearly every single one of my babies all day long. We don’t even try to leave our babies with sitters until they’re around eleven or twelve months old, and then we only leave them with people they know REALLY well, like their grandparents, and that is so rare that 98% of our “dates” are at home after the children are in bed. And when people ask me if my babies are “good,” I always say “yes.” Children are not accessories. They are human beings. They have interests, needs, struggles, pain, fears, preferences, and opinions right from the very start. I’m glad my children express their feelings. I’m glad I can help them make sense of life. I’m glad we have a relationship where they can trust me to at least try to understand them rather than cramming them into my ideal mold.

  4. My heart breaks when I think of babies being labeled bad or good, easy or difficult. Especially when I hear adults discuss such labels in their face. I’ve seen this done with a couple beloved little ones in my own life. Not to mention that the so called “easy” children sometimes end up being ultra compliant. Not a quality that I necessarily want to develop in a young girl.
    Iris is a beautiful, curious, inquisitive little lady and I cannot wait to see how those qualities serve her later in life.
    On another note, I so value your authenticity regarding the fun and not fun aspects of parenthood. It is hearing those types of things that help me feel like I could be a parent someday. All of the “everything is wonderful” “we have no problems” women make me want to run and hide, because I know it is a lie. Thank you so much for sharing your life story with us!

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