Before I had Daphne, and long before I was trying to conceive, I used to refer to most of the moms I knew as mommy zombies.
These were the moms who posted photo, after photo, after freaking photo, of their newborn just laying their, staring bug eyed at the camera, an alien in a human world. Yes, I used to think that newborn babies resembled aliens. I still kind of do, to be honest, except that now they, all of them, make my heart swoon in their not-of-this-world newness, in their perfect innocence.
These were the moms with whom I once discussed world events and workouts, now cutting our conversations short because of crying, so much ANNOYING crying in the background, interfering with whatever important stuff I had to stay about my latest barre workout.
I’d be like, “And then the teacher had us go into pretzel and -”
“Waaaaah,” a baby would cry, stifling what was sure to be a ground breaking discussion about the benefits of barre on my back fat.
“Sorry, gotta go,” my friend would say, and I’d think total mommy zombie.
These were the moms with the greasy hair, the diaper bag as their purse, and the worn in ballet flats.
These were the moms with the un-manicured nails and the dark circles under their eyes.
These were the moms I swore I’d never become, back before I could commit to anything beyond getting out of bed for work in the morning and maybe a workout class after.
Even after my battle with infertility humbled me, I still had all these pretty little ideas about motherhood, about what kind of parent I would be, and about what kind of household I would run. There was no way I was going to let myself go, stop working out regularly, or let my kid eat gluten. There was no way that I was going to be a mommy zombie either. Right.
Here are some of the misconceptions I had about myself, and what life would be like after I gave birth to my own little alien. I sometimes can’t believe how out of touch I was with what life would life be like after baby, and also how judgmental I was about those who blazed a trail toward parenthood before I did.
Mommy Zombie Misconception #1: My baby would NEVER sleep in bed with me.
I had already made the mistake of letting my dogs share the bed with my husband and I, certainly I would NEVER allow my child to further interrupt our marital bliss after making that tragic mistake. I would sleep train the %^&T out of my baby. Crying, bah. I would have that baby sleeping in her crib by three months old for definite. And I would never co-sleep. Sure I was crunchy, but not that crunchy. Children belonged in cribs.
14-months later I get kicked in the head nightly by a toddler foot, and growled at by a dog who wants more room at least three times a week. The stench of four types of farts – from my husband, a sick dog, an overweight one who eats everything, and a baby who loves beans – make for quite the olfactory experience. (Notice how I said four types of farts, not five? Me – the fifth bed sharer – never farts. I am perfect.)
For me, co-sleeping isn’t about what I think is best for babies or development or the future of our species – because let’s be honest, no one really knows. For me, co-sleeping is about sanity and survival. It’s about the fact that my daughter has puked the two times I’ve tried sleep training. It’s about how much easier breastfeeding is to have her close. It’s about how much better I sleep when she’s next to me, despite the nightly face checks, and bean smells. I miss her when she hasn’t made it into our bed yet, I really do.
But mothers who did and do sleep train – more power to you. Just because I couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Some of the happiest kids I know never once shared a bed with their parents. Some of the happiest kids I know did until age 5.
Misconception #2: Gluten-free, organic, local, and paleo brainwashing by age 0.
Okay, so I’m a weirdo who gets excited about nutrition science and theories. I’m also the kind of person who believes food plays a big part in how we feel and the diseases that manifest. At one point in time, I was desperate to find relief from my endo symptoms, so when a doctor told me to read Wheat Belly, and go gluten-free, I jumped off the bread truck with passionate abandon. Same goes with the organic, farm to table movement. I believe.
I also believe that the occasional french fry won’t kill you.
And croissants. Every kid (and adult) should get to sometimes eat croissants.
Then there was that time Daphne got a fever for a few days and lost a few pounds. I spent the next two weeks after that trying to get her to eat EVERYTHING. I made baby size cheesecake bites. I shoveled pasta, with extra gluten, into her mouth by the fork full. I even bought some of those terrifying cheese doodle things that come in a can that you get from Walmart. (She wouldn’t eat them and the dogs wouldn’t either).
My point: I used to judge families I’d see feeding their babies chicken nuggets. Until, of course, I had a baby of my own, and realized sometimes that’s all a kid will eat. Sometimes you just don’t have time to prepare anything real, whole, organic, and amazing. Sometimes a can of soup is quick and convenient and makes it so that you have a little more time for loving that baby of yours. Food is important to me, and yes, I believe it should be to everyone. But the small glimpse I get of your grocery cart in line at Walmart, isn’t a window into your soul. We’re all mamas (those of us with kids anyway haha), and for the most part, we’re all just doing the best we can with the parenting circumstances we’ve been given. Kraft Mac and Cheese and all. There are always better choices, but sometimes we don’t know about them or can’t make them.
Misconception #3: No TV, phones, or computers for baby EVER. Because Brain Development.
Even after Daphne was born, I clung onto this one tightly, swooping the cell phone out of her 8-month old hands like she was holding a bomb about to detonate. And then something happened. She became a toddler. An alien with wants, lots of them. The chap stick on the desk? She must have it. The keyboard I’m typing on? That too. There are just so many dishwasher unloading battles you can have before you need a little help from Big Bird and his friends. (My daughter is no longer content to help take the forks from the silver ware holster, she wants to be one with the dishwasher. She wants to live in there.)
Surely a little Sesame Street and Nature Channel won’t stop a brain from growing. So, yes, we sometimes turn the TV on with our child in the room. We sometimes even sit her down right in front of it and walk way. Gasp. In between reading a billion books a day of course.
SUV passing on the freeway with DVD of Disney lighting up the inside, I owe you an apology. Pre-motherhood I may have judged you, mumbling something about literature, about books, about all the road trip games we would play when we were kids, to my husband, as we whirred past, ignorant and childless. All of our talk about the rotten state of the brains these days, because iPads and Androids? Never again shall I condemn you electronic devices, or SUV driver, or parent with the Angry Birds savvy 3-year old. Road trips, doctors visits, and even grocery store outings with young sick/cranky/teething/tantrumy children sans light up, make noise devices might be my idea of hell now that I am a parent who must endure them.
Misconception #4: No zombie under eye circles for this mommy.
This one makes me laugh the most, because my vanity started it’s slow painful death in pregnancy and I didn’t even realize it was happening. Morning sickness made me abandon my fitness blog and in person fitness endeavors until the second trimester, but by then I was getting too big to comfortably waddle my way to a workout class. Then there was my hair and nails. I was too freaked out about the fumes to continue my regular mani/pedis and highlights. Thank God I was growing a baby around the time the ombre look was solidifying itself as a thing.
My fitness routine resurfaced during some of D’s first year, but it was more like a baby turtle poking it’s little snout out for air then it was a dolphin leaping up and out of the water. I’d fit in the occasional video or stationary bike ride, I’d wear make-up if I’d leave the house, sometimes, but there wasn’t much house leaving after I quit my job as a private investigator. Not until recently. For me the first year was about nesting, and nurturing, not which under eye treatment could make me look well rested, or which boutique fitness class I could squeeze in before Sunday brunch.
And fashion? Forget about it. My body was changing shape and slowly. My old clothes didn’t fit until recently, and even some of them still don’t, which meant I wasn’t going to invest in anything beyond an elastic waist band. And while I’ve had some events over the past year that have required heels, I now actually prefer my flat sandals and ballet slippers. Even wedges don’t make sense when you’re chasing after a walk/running mini person who just wants to get to it all as fast as she can.
Before Daphne, I judged people’s parenting choices and I shouldn’t have.
Mom’s who came before me, tired looking, and with unwashed hair, now I understand. I’m sorry I scoffed at our abrupt conversations. I’m sorry I called you mommy zombies. Now if I ever use that term again, it will because I’m describing myself. 14-months later I’m getting my body and my beauty back one day at a time, but I still have a long way to go.
Am I alone here? Did anyone else have things they swore you’d never do before having kids, but now do them?