I’ve been thinking a lot about resentment lately. I suppose that’s normal when your entry into motherhood is a crying-filled, sleepless smackdown and you subsequently have a second baby who offers you the sort of experience you expected to have when you became a mom. At least it’s normal for me.
“This isn’t the experience with motherhood I wanted you to have,” I remember my mom saying to me one day while I cried on the phone to her when Connor was a baby.
It wasn’t the experience I wanted to have either. It’s not that I thought having a baby should be lullaby perfect, but I didn’t want it to be filled with quite so much despair.
The moment my mom said that to me is a milestone in my motherhood journey. From where I stand now I see that moment like a marker stabbed into the sand on my path, noting what came before and what would follow after. This is how the beginning will always be for you, says the sign next to it. You can’t relive those earlier months and your motherhood picture will always be shaped by this experience. You don’t get to do it again and have it be easier, more fulfilling, more fun.
No, I don’t.
But do I resent Connor?
No, I don’t.
I danced with Ethan this morning.
He was full of smiles when I went to get him out of bed to start the day. I fed him and then he played happily in his high chair while I had breakfast. He splashed in the bath, experimenting with what happens when he kicks his feet.
We’ve been working on sleep lately and this morning, not for the first time, he had a nice, long nap. He woke up, pink-cheeked and laughing. I fed him and then thought he might like some play time on the floor, but he didn’t. So we danced.
“Say what you need to say,” sang John Mayer, as I held Ethan around the waist and placed my hand in his small chubby one. He put his nose in the crook of my neck and leaned his cheek against mine. He let me sing and he stuck to me as I swayed, breathing him in.
If Ethan had been my first baby, I wouldn’t have spent so much time bouncing a screaming baby. I wouldn’t have logged hours in his room trying to get him to sleep and wondering at what point my sanity would actually break. I wouldn’t have been anxious about doing errands or shopping for groceries in case he had a colossal meltdown in public.
I would have been able to go to play dates without dreading having to go home and deal with him by myself. I would have had more hot meals. I would have had more meals, period. I would have cherished the time and his laugh and those slobbery, open-mouthed kisses without wondering why the lovely baby stuff had to be overshadowed by so very much hard stuff.
That sign in the sand is right. I don’t get a motherhood do-over, though my experience with Ethan has given me a glimpse of what might have been.
With a different baby, my early days of motherhood might have been more peaceful. They might have been more fun. They might even have been diaper-commercial sweet. With a second, very different baby, I can see it now.
Do I resent Connor?
No, I don’t.
I don’t resent him, neither the baby he was nor the boy he is now. But do I resent my introduction to motherhood and wish it had been different?
Sometimes. A little bit. I do.
Say what you need to say.