Calling All Judgey McJudgersons

I’m convinced that there’s nothing like having a baby to make you realize OH WOW, WAS I EVER A JUDGEY, UNREALISTIC WENCH PRE-BABY!

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but having a Willem in my life has taught me a few things:

1) Everything you said you would/would not EVER do re: baby raising will go completely out the window. Pacifiers? We were NEVER going to use a pacifier. EVER. Enter four-week-old, crying-for-no-reason Willem, and you’d better believe I tried every pacifier available. Turns out he hates pacifiers, but the point is I was suddenly all for it if it helped. Likewise, I’ve read every dang thing out there on getting your baby to do whatever it is you want him to do – say, for instance, sleep past 5 am. Go to bed early! Feed him before you go to bed! Don’t pick him up in the middle of the night! Pick him up immediately when he starts fussing in the middle of the night! Whatever. If it works, I’m going to keep doing it. If it doesn’t feel right (like patting my sobbing baby in his crib because some book told me WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T PICK HIM UP), well, I’m not going to do it. In short, I’ve learned that whatever works for one mom-baby combo is absolutely perfect for them. We’re all just struggling along, doing our best here… and we have no clue what we’re doing.

20140603. My garden buddy.

2) You will become really good at reading your baby… until he/she up and changes on you without any forewarning or notice. By extension, then, don’t gloat. Willem had two weeks of awesome sleep – bed at 8:30, woke up once between 3:30 and 5, and slept until 6:30 or 7. It was a glorious two weeks. And then he was back to waking a few times each night, cooing and talking away happily at 4:45 am, waking up crying an hour after going to bed… you get the picture.

Morning garden visits.

3) You will also get really good at prioritizing. I kid you not, one morning while getting ready, I had this inner dialogue: “First I need to put clothes on. Clothes are non-negotiable. Is the baby still happy? Check. Okay, I’m good for another two minutes. Should I take a dump, pluck my eyebrows, or comb my hair?” You also get really good at doing everything with one arm and at lightning speed. Chris found a one-handed bottle opener the other day, and I was like, BITCH PLEASE. I’ve been opening bottles one-handed for months now!

Tummy time.

4) You will become a tired, pissy wench unless you realize you just need to go with the flow and accept (and even be glad for) exactly what is in front of you in that instant. Note that what is in front of you may be an exhausted baby who woke up at 5 am but has decided his morning nap should be 30 minutes rather than his usual 1.5 hours. Note also that you will need to remind yourself over and over and over again of this point, particularly if you have a million other things you need to get done. Truly, you are just along for the ride here, and the sooner and more completely you embrace that, the better.

Thanks, Circle City Rain Barrels!

5) You will find yourself extremely annoyed when, after expressing that you’re just TIRED, you are told to not worry about folding the laundry or the dirty dishes in the sink. Believe me, I’m not stressed because the dishes are piling up. I’m stressed because the baby has decided to nap only in my arms (and my arms get TIRED, dangit!) or I haven’t shaved my legs in a week or I have an ever-growing list of work-related tasks that need to be done or I would just really like to be able to spend an uninterrupted 30 minutes tending the garden and cleaning the (absolutely disgusting) chicken coop. Or I’d just like 10 minutes during which I’m doing something as decadent as reading a magazine while not holding a baby – and not feel guilty about that. By comparison, laundry and dirty dishes are a piece of cake; it’s all the other LIFE stuff that gets you.

My dudes.

6) And after writing #5, I must revisit #4. Because, ultimately, this is exactly what I signed up for – a sweet, smiley, funny, thoughtful, crazy little ball of baby who, every moment, is becoming more and more his own tiny human self. And I get to see it happen. How cool is that? I’m the one who gets the giant smiles first thing in the morning, the adorable coos all day long, the funny little facial expressions and gestures and rocking chair snuggles. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Sumo baby.

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8 thoughts on “Calling All Judgey McJudgersons

  1. I had had a long week at work and very little sleep at night when my first son was about the age that your kid is now. My wife needed me to get groceries with him, so I took him along and got the groceries and paid for them. Inside the store he was getting restless and kind of starting to make a scene, so I was very happy to be done shopping. I needed to hurry home to either get him a bottle or change him, I don’t remember which, but I had forgotten those supplies and it would be a 10 minute drive before he was happy. I pushed the cart full of groceries and my son’s car seat outside and saw that it had been snowing heavy sleety snow the entire time I was shopping. It had also grown windy and very cold. I put my son into the back seat first, so he didn’t have to stay out in the wind while I loaded all the grocery bags into the vehicle. I then put the groceries in the car and realized something.

    The cart return was like 100 feet away.

    It was still bitterly cold and blowing sleety snowy crap at 20 MPH. I could have gotten my grumpy son back out of the car, put him back into the cart and pushed it back to the cart return, but that seemed like a way to torture him. I wasn’t about to leave him unattended in a cold car at his age. I made the frazzled decision to leave my cart next to the car in the parking lot, even though that is ‘wrong’. Seeing me make this choice, some very nosy old lady rolled down her car window and chastised me for what I was about to do before I could even get in my car. I’m still not entirely sure if she knew about my child or not. You have no idea how much she pissed me off that day.

    Sometimes there are reasons!

    • OMG, yes! It has really made me feel a lot more empathy for people. You never know what’s going on for that person. Why not approach them with kindness rather than judgment and anger? They may have a crying, dirty-diapered, snowy baby in their backseat who just NEEDS. HOME. NOW.

      On this same note, I’ve totally started parking right next to the cart return in the parking lot. Because I always swore I wouldn’t be that mommy who leaves the cart at the parking space… But I’ve definitely done it. Because REASONS.

  2. Agree with all, especially the “tired, pissy wench” part. Trying to uphold my “pre-baby” house cleaning, yard cleaning, chicken/garden tending standards has been exhausting, and makes me angry and resentful at times (at who, I’m not really sure because Will is working just as hard as I am, but still, someone should pay for it).

    And the prioritizing thing? I’ve lost ten pounds because whenever the baby would go down for a nap during the day, I’d go crazy on other tasks, get them finished, and then sit down to eat . . . just as he’d wake up crying. I now EAT FIRST!

    • Oh, Jamie, yes! When we first brought Willem home, I had a little box of snacks on the coffee table that I could just eat any time of the day or night. I stopped doing that, and I’ve been dropping weight, too. Lugging around an 18-pound boy, breastfeeding, paying attention to my own needs last… these all amount to weight loss and burnout in the normal human being. BUT NOT US! Because we are SUPER MOMS, right?

      Riiiiight. Isn’t it funny to think we were ALL raised by a bunch of exhausted, hungry zombies who had no clue what they were doing? I guess we turned out all right.

      • Zombie is the right word for it. Our foster baby has been with us for almost three months now, and I can hardly remember any of it (he’s six and a half months old, and weighs 16 pounds. My arms have never looked better, lugging that around all day).

        I keep thinking about the pioneers and homesteaders and how the bloody hell they did it. Broke land, farmed, grew their food, made everything from scratch, looked after livestock, raised babies, and all without the many appliances that I rely on every day. I think I would’ve died.

    • Forget the pioneers – I have no idea how YOU are doing it! I’m working about 10 hours a week for an organization here, and that’s about my max… AND my garden has been languishing already.

      Re: homesteaders – I also think there were older kids looking after younger kids and probably a bit more neglect maybe? Not NEGLECT-neglect, but I bet kids were allowed to fend for themselves at a younger age than these days. And lots of baby wearing!!

      • We are in survival mode. We are keeping up, but that’s about it.

        Thankfully, Will only has one job at the moment instead of two, but unfortunately, he’s in rehearsals AND producing an entire summer Shakespeare festival, so he’s working six days a week. I have a part-time nanny that looks after D about 15-20 hours a week so that I can get out and farm(social services pays for childcare if you have a job outside of the home), and I do the rest in the evenings when Will gets home.

        I get up at 6:30 a.m. and just go, go, go until I drop at about 10:30 p.m. And then start again the next morning. I’ve never know exhaustion like this. What would I do without a dishwasher, or washing machine? We’d be living in filth. We’re really looking forward to winter, and a trip to Cuba.

        Despite the exhaustion, I’m enjoying the urban farming, and I’m really excited by the positive feedback I’ve been getting. I’m already brainstorming ideas on how to grow the business next season. At the moment, we’re just breaking even, which isn’t horrible for the first year of running a new business. Most new businesses run a deficit their first year. But I’d like to actually make some money at it next year πŸ™‚ I like the feeling that at least I’m pouring my time and effort into something worthy, and something that I can build and grow. Something that’s mine.

        I miss having my blog. I may start writing again, and stop leaving novels in your comments section πŸ™‚

    • I don’t know why WordPress won’t let me reply to more than two comments in a thread. Annoying! I’ll just keep replying to the initial message because, dammit, this is important stuff we need to talk about!

      I am incredibly impressed by you. Seriously, it is an overwhelming prospect, just starting your own business, particularly one as potentially fickle as growing things can be. There is so much out of your control – hail storms and cabbage moths and heat and drought and and and… well, that on its own would be enough to cause sleepless nights. Add in a baby, and crap. You are Wonder Woman in my book. It’s all I can do to take care of our little guy and maybe manage to pick some mulberries or trellis the (completely overgrown already) tomatoes on any given day.

      I know this is so cliche to say, but take care of yourself, too. HA! Ah HAHAHAHA!!! I’m laughing at myself, because OHMYGOD, WHEN IS THERE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?! I was talking to Willem this morning, and I was like, “Okay, first we’ll feed you, then we’ll feed the doggie. Oh, then mommy has to eat something. AH HAHAHA! Mommy’s always last!” And it’s true. It’s a fine balance – taking care of everyone else, but also taking care of yourself just enough to, like, not get sick or come down with scurvy or something.

      It’ll get easier, right? Right? Add in the inherent loneliness of being a new mom and the constant nagging feeling like YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH (or is that just me?), and, man, things are pretty exhausting. Luckily, we’ve both got a lot of rewarding moments and rainbows and baby smiles mixed into the exhaustion and bleary-eyed middle of the night feedings and the explosive diaper changes and the cabbage moths and the hail. πŸ™‚

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