Friday, April 3, 2015

In which I am, again, not typical

My daughter is three months old today, which feels like some sort of milestone but not really a milestone at all.  She's doing great, and she seems ahead of the curve on some things.  She can sit up in a Bumbo chair already, though you have to prop her up with blankets in the chair because she's still got a skinny little butt and the seat is a bit big for her.  She has a jumper toy at my parents house that she seems to enjoy bouncing in.  She is getting chatty and coos a lot.  She recognizes people, from what we can tell, and she reaches for and grabs at toys all the time.  She really enjoys shaking the crap out of the toys on her play mat.  She's no longer a lump of snuggly newborn.  She's becoming a person, and it's pretty great.

As part of these milestones there's a reality we have to face.  She's growing up.  It's happening fast, but it's supposed to happen.  This week I officially packed away her newborn clothes.  Some things were just outright ridiculously small, and some things were just on that edge of being ok and being too small for her.  Pants are the big problem there, since she's got really long legs, so pants are too short, and anything with feet in it was small enough that she couldn't straighten her legs anymore.  So, I made the decision to box up all of her old newborn clothes and send them off to my sister, who is having a little girl in June, and break out my box of 0-3 month and 3 month clothes.  It seemed right.  Most kids don't stay in newborn clothes until they're nearly three months old.  Most kids don't stay in newborn clothes more than a couple of weeks.  My nephew is nearly a month old and already working his way into 0-3 month clothes.  It was time.  I didn't think much of it as I was boxing everything up.  We kept a few sentimental outfits, the preemie sleeper we had from when she was born because her newborn clothes didn't fit yet, the outfit she came home from the hospital in, the first sleeper we ever bought her, and the outfit our foster daughter bought her.  Four outfits still seems like a lot to keep, but some day we may be sad if we didn't have them, so I'll put them into storage somewhere and look back on them and remember a time when she was tiny and sweet.  It'll be nice when she's a teenager and I will want to kill her.

The thing is, I did this all in an evening while my husband was at school, and I didn't think much of it.  I put the old things in a box, I hung up the new things and my night went on just fine.  Then someone said something about how I handled it so much better than she did when it was her daughter, because she cried a lot as she put away all of her daughter's newborn items.  She said she was so sad and couldn't help but cry over it.  When she said that, I remember my sisters crying over their kids outgrowing newborn items, and I suddenly started to feel like there was something wrong with me.  Should I have cried?  Should I have been emotional over putting away her first three months and moving on to the next three?  What's wrong with me that I don't seem to think much of putting her newborn stage to rest?  I started getting upset over the fact that I didn't get upset.  I actually cried this morning because I felt like there was something wrong with me.  Like, I didn't love her enough as a newborn, so that's why this wasn't sad for me.  Or maybe it was because it took me so long to actually connect with her and feel like "Yes, I can be your mom, and I can be good at it".  That falling in love slowly thing really is how it happened with me.  I loved her, I wanted her to be cared for and safe, but I wasn't totally crazy about her at first.  I wanted to be, but I wasn't.  I kept waiting for that sudden rush of awe and love that other women talk about feeling as soon as their kid is born and it never came.  I wanted it.  I really did.  But the fact is, my experience was what it was, and I can't change it.  That said, I will probably always wonder if it somehow speaks of me as a mother and if it means that I will never be as good as other people because I didn't have those moments.  And now I wonder if I'm not as good as other people because I didn't cry when she outgrew her damn clothes.

Maybe it is some sort of indication that I didn't love her enough at the beginning or something.  I don't know.  I like to think it's just as symptom of the sort of person I am.  I don't see any point in mourning what I've lost as she's outgrown her newborn stage and letting that subtract from my enjoyment of who she is growing into.  Her newborn stage was nice, but I like this one a little better.  She's interactive.  She enjoys things.  She smiles.  She is developing preferences and becoming a tiny person, and I like that.  I'm a practical person.  I know that she has to grow up.  That's basically her only job right now.  If I'm always bracing for impact every time she outgrows a diaper or clothing size, I'm never going to be able to be present in what she's doing right now.  They're just clothes.  I want to celebrate her milestones, not dread them.  I know she'll only be my little baby for a short time, but I'm going to be her mom forever, so I don't really feel like I'm losing anything as she gets older.

Maybe that makes me weird.


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