My dear friend Susan wrote me a poem before my son's birth. At the time I first read it I just thought it was a beautiful poem. Now, I read it over and over again like a set of instructions.
The first line is:
"Babies want only one thing from you: total surrender."
It's true. My husband and I were blown away, that first night home with our boy, at how we quickly became the befuddled and inadequate pages to this powerful Prince who screamed his demands (I try not to resent the creator for giving such an unnecessarily loud voice to such a small creature!) for hours on end and could be quieted only by vigorous swinging and, eventually, the breast--when the milk came in.
Now that he is no longer a newborn and seems at times more boy than baby, it's easy to interpret "total surrender"" to mean the way an empire wants to conquer smaller countries. So I try to marshall understanding for what it's like to be a six month old baby. While he can sit up by himself for short periods of time, he is completely dependent on us for his mobility. And since he speaks a language that nobody but he understands, there's a lot of room for misinterpretation of his needs. I imagine it's like being put in jail in a foreign country--you're dependent on your captors.
Still, I must repeat Susan's line a lot to myself lately: since his morning waking time has moved from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30a.m.; when, after being clung to all night, he doesn't want to sit and play alone during the day, but only to be in my lap; when he pitches a fit at having to be in the car seat or stroller; when he will play for hours with his daddy but cry after a short time with me...when a short blog post takes three separate sittings to write...I know these are small things...but when they're your world, they add up.
It would be so much "easier" to be a bad parent...(wasn't there a time when it was common to put a little gin in the baby's bottle?) but it's just not an option.