A very good friend of mine from college used to say in a very prophetic manner, “Ah, Car…the old dreams were good dreams. I’m sad they didn’t work out, but I’m glad I had them.” In order to get the full affect, you must imagine (btw…what is the audio version of visualize? Audiolize? Anyone? anyway) – you must imagine a man with a raspy voice, smoking a cigarette drinking a really cheap beer, saying this to me on a beat-up old porch in Ithaca, New York. He would say it every time I got all sad that it didn’t work out with whats-his-name, or that I didn’t get the job at wherever, and he even said it when I traded in the white picket fence for a perfect little girl.
Ahhhh…yes…those old dreams are simply wonderful just because you had them. And they aren’t confined to unrequited love, or the romantic notion of how our lives would turn out.
Oh no, no, no, my friend…those old, overly hopeful dreams are also present in the months leading up to new motherhood. Now that Ellie is almost a year-and-a-half old, I realize (with the help of a close friend and colleague) that I convinced myself of some downright crazy sh*t before I had my daughter, and some of that crazy was maintained during those first few weeks postpartum when you should not be allowed to make any sort of minor or major decision about your life.
As my friend pointed out the other day, “You now realize that everyone that had become a parent before you, was just nodding their head and being polite when you said some of those things.”
”YES!!!!” You were all lying to ME!
Well maybe not lying, you were just smiling and not telling me the whole truth, because we all know if you tried to tell me the truth at the time I would have been incredibly insulted at the fact that you were underestimating me. But regardless, there are some crazy things I convinced myself of.
I seriously told myself, and many friends, that I was going to run a half marathon the April after Ellie was born (she was born in December). I remember telling my friend/colleague this and she said, “Oh, great!”
But what she was really thinking was, “You are out of your mind woman! You are going to give birth via c-section, and breastfeed exclusively, as a single mom, working full time – and you think you are going to hit the ground running – IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORST WINTER ON RECORD – with your little one gleefully enjoying the ride in the jogging stroller? BTW…you aren’t supposed to even jog with them in that stroller until they are six months old.“
Instead she just said, “Oh, Great!”
I did not run the half-marathon that year, or the following for that matter. I plan to run one again. I am not sure when. Because now I have beaten into being sensible. At the mention of this notion now, my friend and I seriously laugh so hard that we are brought to tears.
I recalled the next mindblowingly crazy thing I not only told myself, but preached, and adhered to when I saw this story on pacifiers and whether or not they are evil.
Okay, that wasnt the title of the article.
But this story on Everyday Health looked into whether or not binkies are bad for breastfeeding. I was told they were by the in my lactation class. Basically I was led to believe that if my child even SAW a pacifier, all hopes of breastfeeding would be over and I would need to give her that poison we were all raised on called formula. I was militant about my anti-pacifier rule.
In fact, now that I think about it, I vaguely remember screaming at my mother when they gave Ellie a pacifier to try to stop her from using my bleeding nipples as one. Screaming. As if she tried to feed her scalding hot milk.
When my sister (a pediatric nurse) suggested that perhaps Ellie needed some extra sucking to help her learn how to self soothe, I rolled my eyes and thought, “You can be one of those dysfunctional mothers that gives their baby a binkie, but I am much more sophisticated, and therefore my child’s breastfeeding will not be hindered by a stupid pacifier. Even if it means that I go nights without sleep. And then send tearful emails to my friends about how terrible it is to not sleep.”
Listen to me very carefully. My next child is getting a pacifier stuck in their little mouth as soon as they are…born. I was going to be more graphic as I was when I shared this thought with a friend today. But you understand what I am saying. BINKIES FOR EVERYONE!
Another thing I told myself, or actually just assumed, is that I would brush my teeth every day after having a child. This was in fact, not true, especially in those first few weeks. Now it is.
Okay – I may have forgotten to brush my teeth this past Saturday before taking Ellie to music class because she simply refused to get dressed and once I got her dressed, I strapped her in the stroller and made a run for it. I was halfway down the block and I realized that my teeth were, well, not minty fresh. We were already late for class so I told myself that I was not a total degenerate because I did remember to put deodorant on.
I felt better about this when we were walking out of the class and a mom said to me, “I consider this morning successful because my son did not try to headbutt or push anyone else’s child.” She smiled as she walked away. Perhaps she was able to tell we had a tough time getting out of the house. Or perhaps she smelled my morning breath. I hope it’s not the latter.
Someone once told me that denial, in moderation, is actually a very healthy coping mechanism that our minds use until we are able to accept reality. That person must have been talking about a new parent, because I know I am not the only mom or dad to be so incredibly idealistic about certain things pertaining to your post baby life.
Please – share with me the crazy you lived on until your were able to come to terms with reality.