Now, it’s time to reminisce. When she was born, I had a mountaintop experience. I became a mother, but I had (have) a whole journey to become a mama. This beautiful vernix-coated baby would wreck me, in all the good ways.
I found my identity in attachment parenting. And then I dabbled in crying it out, when I was at the end of my rope. I made only homemade baby food, and disgusted my Instagram followers with tales of sardines for lunch, while secretly dreaming of stuffing her with rice cereal to see if she would sleep through the night.
Shocking, I know.
Someone forgot to tell me (or I opted not to listen) that motherhood is a glorious shit-show. Especially if you’re cloth diapering, but that too is another post. I have followed the temptation to find my worth in doing all of the right things: if baby girl falls asleep happily, I’m an awesome mom. If she fights nap time, my afternoon is put on hold while I wallow in doubt and self-pity. When did my self-confidence and purpose in life hinge on a squirmy, albeit adorable, tot? When did figuring out parenthood become so hard?
When I missed the bigger picture, that’s when.
The diapers, the solid foods flung every which way, the ever-present sweet potato-infused hairdo — they make the day-to-day tasks seem more important (or urgent) than what is really happening. A little girl is learning who she is, who her parents are, why she is here and who can be trusted. She’s learning that there’s an ever-loving, all-powerful God who cares about a minor fever, or she’s learning that a fever is an indicator of impending doom, and the world is a scary place that needs to be navigated by equal parts control and cowering.
I can’t get too far into my mama control zone before my baby knocks me back into reality. We have this game, where she lifts off my shirt and sticks her finger into my belly button. Then we find her belly button. It’s great fun. Note: waitresses don’t usually know the game, and they don’t enjoy a baby searching for the button. Not recommended in public.
When she finds my belly button, I exclaim, “Pupusa!” That’s the term I lovingly coined for the baby belly surrounding the belly button. It’s technically a Salvadoran dish like a Latino hot pocket, which is a beautiful thing in and of itself. But when she finds my pudgy little tummy, a reminder of where she came from, I can’t keep my grasp on control and a task-minded approach to mommydom. I’m knocked back down to knowing nothing but my inadequacy and my love for this little nugget.
The pudge isn’t a call to sit-ups. It isn’t a prescription for watching my carbs and doing crunches. My pupusa is a reminder of where my baby came from. If I think back fondly to my apartment during my single season of life, how much more fondly will I think of the little cocoon that grew this wobbly baby in front of me? It’s a miracle and so are the stinky-diaper, sleepless days.
I’m figuring this out one step at a time. Her daddy and I are ever changed from her entrance into our family. But it doesn’t stop there. We learn daily how to love and care for her with the big picture in mind. Sometimes that means crying in the corner of a coffee shop, pinot noir in one hand while the other cradles my pupusa, thinking of how it got there and what it means.
That’s also not recommended in public, just for the record.