Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dear Baby, I'm not Perfect

photo here

Before you read this: if you do not have a baby, feel free to sub in anyone you love desperately and want to do right for. Then sub in your own neuroses and ways you feel you aren't enough. It's not a feeling I, for one, have only had with my baby. Though I dare say it was the scariest with her.....

Dear Baby,
I love you madly. more every time you open your eyes and every time you smile or grunt in your sleep or kick your legs around trying to get out of that swaddle. More every time you make that face you make. I love you more than I knew I could love anything.

I was a really imperfect mama today.

And I know. I'm supposed to feel imperfect. Perfection doesn't EXIST. And that should be OK. but it isn't when I worry that I've damaged you for life because I multitasked instead of focused only on you for those 15 minutes that I sat with you and returned some emails. That I don't know whether to wear you--and can't figure out how to make you like the sling when you're awake-- or put you in your chair where you observe what you want to observe. Do I Attach you to me or let you hang out with yourself? Are you bored when you look off into the distance like that or are you meditating?

I don't know what you want all the time and I don't know how to fix it all the time, and when you cry to the point that your voice shakes and your whole body is red, I feel like my heart is being shredded by a pack of tigers and the sky is turning in on itself and swallowing me up and will spit me out where I belong: in a universe where there are no parents because clearly I shouldn't be one.

Sometimes when I try to make you feel better I make it worse. I will probably do this as long as you live. I'm sorry.

I'm scared that since there is success I still want to have, you'll think that if I get excited about your successes you'll think it's me living vicariously through you--that I'm making it about me and my unfulfilled dreams that I want you to carry out; that you'll resent me for this and start therapy when you're nine. Yes, I just went down that rabbit hole and you're 26 days old.

You scream bloody murder when I put you on your tummy for Tummy Time. Do I "respect you" by picking you up or do I play the Mommy that knows what's best for you and let you like there in a pathetic face plant because this will make your neck and shoulders strong and help you roll over but hopefully not off the bed? And will you dream about that tonight and is that wiggling you're doing while you sleep you running away from me, swaddle and all, like a mushroom, in infant dreamland? Tummy Time is so not fun for either of us. So much so that I signed us up for a class about it in hopes we will heal.

I want to respond to your cries right away. And I do. Then I read this could be teaching you helplessness. Help!

You hate the bath. Is that my fault?

I am really really really trying to eat well for you, so is that writhing around on my boob you playing as you work a poop down or did someone sneak garlic into my steamed greens and goat milk yogurt and we're going to be up all night? I bought you baby probiotics. Just so you know.

Dear baby, I have to believe, in these moments of despair, that there is hope for us. Because now you like your changing table, and you do seem happy lying on your back looking at those silly plastic objects dangling from the bars of the playmat. Because my heart swelled a good 3 sizes when you were inconsolable til you were in my arms. Because we look each other in the eye and little smiles play across your mouth. Because now you let me massage you and two weeks ago you were having none. Because I successfully took you to breastfeeding support group, transferred you to car to stroller to room to stroller to car. Because you almost melted down but I changed you in a public bathroom totally hygenically and knew what you needed to keep you happy and at peace. I've never wanted anything more than to take wonderful care of you, and neither one of us has ever done this before. When you sleep and I lie next to you I want to bury my nose in your hair. If I weren't your mother it would probably be creepy how close I want to be to you. So baby, my love, I am writing to you from Planet Imperfect Mama. I'll write from here again. Sending you sweetest dreams as you nap behind me, and trusting all the love I feel for you is getting through, sling or no sling.

Love, Mama


  1. gosh, just when i think i've read the most incredible post with your birth story...then you come out with this?! seriously. i can't wait to be a mom! it sounds o-so empowering. i hope you're saving all of these posts for your lovely daughter to read one day. it is utterly inspirational. please keep posting into motherhood!

  2. Melanie, I don't know you at all but I'm sure...absolutely positive...that you are the perfect mama. Cut yourself a little slack, ok?? :) Look at that beautiful little girl... look what you made! Only a wonderful mama (ok, ok... and daddy) could make a baby smile like that.

    Love all your post. I don't have children yet but you are making me really look forward to that moment.

  3. Most days, I feel as though I'm the sole inhabitant of "Planet Imperfect Mama." So glad to know I have company. You're doing a great job, Melanie. Beautiful post.