Monday, November 14, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Rad-a-Dude

I wonder if I'll ever reach a point where I don't feel the need to check on 'Rad while he's sleeping.  Just to make sure I can hear him breathing.  Just to make sure he didn't undo this swaddle and pull the blanket up over his head.  Just to make sure he's ok.  Those aren't the only reasons I peek in on him while he's napping.  Sometimes I do it to calm myself because nothing makes everything else disappear than seeing him all burrito-ed up, dreaming his baby dreams, safe and sound in the nursery.  I've been popping in on him napping a lot lately.  Maybe it's because I need to settle myself down often.

But putting him down for naps isn't what it used to be.  Well, I should say nap.  Since both Z and I are working, we put him down for one nap before we put him to bed for the night.  I feel like he's fighting that one nap because we don't get to see each other as often as we used to when I was on maternity leave.  I'm in his face when we get him home because of mom guilt and because I missed him during the day.  He's fighting his early evening nap because he hasn't seen mom and dad since the morning.  At least that's the story I'm putting to it.

I think my second week back to work is going to be harder than the first.  Things at work are slow, so I have plenty of time to think about my Rad-a-dude.  I'm proud to say that I feel like I'm still me but just with a baby.  It was a big goal of mine to maintain an independent identity apart from my kiddo.  Z and I even made a pact to call each other out if we were letting ourselves get swallowed up by babydom.  But 'Rad and I have that mother-child bond, which means that I'll never truly be separated from him mentally or emotionally.  At least that's what I'm guessing with my 11 weeks of experience.  As if I'm some expert.  Then again, when it comes to 'Rad I'm as close as you can get to being an expert.

Today I was invited to a parents' group at work.  It was such a surreal feeling.  Sure, it was just an e-mail asking if I wanted to join this newly-formed group, but what was strange was that I met the only credential: I had a kid.  I have a kid.  This kid:

My fingers are pinching his cheeks in this picture right now

Remember when you got engaged (for you married gals out there) and all of those bridal magazines were finally relevant, so you went crazy buying all of them before they no longer applied to you?  That's what this felt like.  Except this will apply for the rest of my life.  Sure I want to join your exclusive had-a-kid group!  I'm a grown up now!  If this isn't proof, what is?

Needless to say, my e-mail response was a bounty of exclamation points.  If e-mails could convey dog-like excitement (think panting, a dog "smile," and crazy eyes), mine would have arrived with its tail wagging.  After feeling that new-mom isolation and still dealing with the "fourth trimester," being able to talk about all of my concerns in person with a group of experienced parents and hear about those that I have to look forward to would be welcomed.

Through this whole motherhood experience talking about things, writing about things, and giving myself time to think about things has really saved my sanity and helped lighten the burden of feeling the need to be perfect.  Thank dog there's no perfect way to parent.  That's one thing I like about it - the way you parent is completely up to you and is a reflection of you.  You really call all of the shots, and that's one of the scariest (I probably write mostly about the parts that scare me) and most exhilarating parts of the entire thing.

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